How to Permanently Restore the Visibility of Lion’s User Library Folder

| TMO Quick Tip

In OS X Lion Apple continued its quest to simplify the user experience and minimize user access to non-essential areas of the OS. As discussed in Mac Geek Gab 343, one such example of this is the apparent disappearance of the user Library folder. It’s still there, but some inconvenient tricks must now be used to access it (i.e., holding down Option while clicking the Finder’s “Go” menu).

Hidden Library in OS X Lion
Before: The User Library folder is nowhere to be found inside the user’s home folder.

In Apple’s defense, it’s likely that 90%+ of Mac users will never have to go into their Library folder and, if they do, they may end up causing more harm than good. But for the remaining 10%, Mac Geek Gab listener Bruce offers a tip to bring the Library folder back for good.

Enter the terminal, type the following, and press Return: 

chflags nohidden /users/[username]/library 

Your user Library will immediately appear in the Finder and you can beginning trashing preference files and defying Cupertino to your heart’s content.

Lion Library Folder Restored
After: The User’s Library folder now visible and accessible in the Finder.

Of course, if you find that Apple was correct and you really don’t need to see your Library folder, simply enter the command below to restore default behavior.

chflags hidden /users/[username]/library 

Thanks, Bruce, for this great and useful tip!

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13 Comments Leave Your Own

Lee Dronick

Thanks Bruce and Jim

ilikeimac

Keep up the good work MGG Jim; these “Answers” columns are becoming a fantastic resource.

Not that there’s anything wrong with this solution, but the world “permanently” in the headline lead me to believe this article would document a method that goes “deeper” than the “chflags” command. How effective is this change? Does it

1. Survive “repair permissions”?
2. Survive OS updates?
3. Affect new user accounts?

computerbandgeek

Ilikeimac:
1) yes
2) no
3) no

Which brings me to my next point, the title of this article got me really excited since it said this is a permanent method, but that’s not the case. Every single OS update so far has re-hidden the Library folder.

Lee Dronick

Every single OS update so far has re-hidden the Library folder.

How many Lion updates have we had? Am I missing them?

computerbandgeek

Well, there were a few beta updates, but yes, I guess there’s only been 2 wink

Lee Dronick

Well, there were a few beta updates, but yes, I guess there?s only been 2

Whew! Your post prompted me to do a Software Update and I was told that mine is up to date. I am at 10.7.1

Kirk

I get Permission denied in the Terminal. Repaired permissions. Same problem. Yes I am admin. Thanks

webjprgm

I get Permission denied in the Terminal. Repaired permissions. Same problem. Yes I am admin. Thanks

Do you have write permissions to the Library? Owner and group on it? What is the output of:

ls -lO /Users/[username]

You should be the owner of Library and have read and write permissions.  You can always try throwing “sudo” in front of the chflags command, since you’re an admin.  (It should work already though. It seems to be working fine for me.)

exAppl088

I suspect the owner and group are probably different, depending on if the user did a “clean install” of Lion or an update over an existing Snow Leopard installation.

aardman

Or, so you don’t have to remember all these unix commands, you can just install Onyx.  It’s free.

Thanks

sudo fixed it. Thanks

JulieG7

Another idea is to open your library by using the option key and then drag it up to the right of the Perform Action Menu, the one that looks like a gear and then you can click on it anytime you need to see your library.

PorthosJon

How many Lion updates have we had? Am I missing them?

After 4 beta updates that re-hid the Library folder, I got frustrated.  I had to come up with a workaround:

1.  Open Automator
2.  New->Application
3.  Library->Utilities->Run Shell Script
4.  Select “/bin/bash” and pass input “to stdin”, also options check “ignore this action’s input.
5.  Remove anything in the window and type (replacing [USERFOLD] with your User Folder Name; Caps matter!):
chflags nohidden Users/[USERFOLD]/Library
6.  Save the Application to your desktop
7.  Move the Application to a specific folder in your user directory, or add it to your Applications folder (authenticating)
8.  Open System Preferences->Users & Groups->Your User->Login Items
9.  Either drag your automator App into the window, or use the + button to add it manually.

Every time you reboot & log in (an action that is 99.9% synonymous with installing an OS update that re-hides the folder), your little automator action will unhide your Library folder.

Extra Hint:  If you want to unhide multiple users’ Library folders, you can repeat the same command in multiple lines in your automator app, and you can add it to multiple users’ login items.  Or as a universal startup item, you can copy it to:  /System/Library/StartupItems

That is a permanent solution (at least for now).

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