13 March, 2014

Beginner's Guide to Mac OS X - Part 2 - Understanding Mac OS X Folder Structure

       To get acquainted with Mac OS X folder structure, start by looking at the folder structure of a typical Mac OS X installation. Open the Finder window, and click the icon for your hard drive (which is typically called Machintosh HD) in the sidebar. If it does not display the hard disk icon, follow the below steps:

·         Launch Finder from the Dock

·         Using the Menu bar, click on Finder then click on Preferences…

·         Under General tab, you can select the checkbox beside Hard disks to display it on Desktop.
Go to Sidebar tab, select the Hard disks checkbox under Devices. Now you will see Machintosh HD in the sidebar when you open Finder.

In the hard drive, you will see at least four folders: Applications, Library, System, and Users.
From the command line, you will see even more if you type: ls /
Open Terminal and type above command, you will see something similar to this:

Explained in no particular order:
Self explanatory, this is where your Mac’s applications are kept
Shared libraries, files necessary for the operating system to function properly, including settings, preferences, and other necessities (note: you also have a Libraries folder in your home directory, which holds files specific to that user).
largely self explanatory, network related devices, servers, libraries, etc
System related files, libraries, preferences, critical for the proper function of Mac OS X
All user accounts on the machine and their accompanying unique files, settings, etc. Much like /home in Linux
Mounted devices and volumes, either virtual or real, such as hard disks, CD’s, DVD’s, DMG mounts, etc
Root directory, present on virtually all UNIX based file systems. Parent directory of all other files
Essential common binaries, holds files and programs needed to boot the operating system and run properly
Machine local system configuration, holds administrative, configuration, and other system files
Device files, all files that represent peripheral devices including keyboards, mice, trackpads, etc
Second major hierarchy, includes subdirectories that contain information, configuration files, and other essentials used by the operating system
Essential system binaries, contains utilities for system administration
Temporary files, caches, etc
Variable data, contains files whose contents change as the operating system runs


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