macOS, there are some standard directories, which can be
in one of the user, local, system, or network domains.
There are also some standard unix/posix directories.
article will start by explaining what is the user, local,
system, and network domain. After that, it will
explain the standard
directories, that belongs to these domains.
Next it will explain
the unix/posix directories. Finally
elucidate, the other macos directories.
macOs, there are some standard folders,
these standard folders can be in one or
multiple domains. The domains that a folder can be
in are the:
is the user directory,
it contains files and applications
which are related to a given user.
This folder is located under the
and it contains multiple folders, such as
the Applications folder, the
the Movies folder.
A user can make changes to his files.
The user directory can also be placed on the network.
is the domain which is related to
the current computer,
as such it contains applications,
files, and resources, related to to the current
and shared among the users.
contains multiple folders,
and an administrator, can make changes to
# examples of folders in
# the local domain.
contains resource files, and
applications, which are related to the system ,
and which are installed by apple.
directory, placed under
the root directory
is part of the system domain.
are the applications, files and resources,
which are located
on a network, and shared by the users of a network.
folders, and they
can be located under multiple domains.
TheApplications folder that belongs to the
is placed under the root directory
It contains the applications that will be used by all
the users. These applications can be installed by
using apple store, or by dragging and dropping an
application into the application folder.
Applications under the
folder, will appear under the launchpad.
An example of an application in the local domain is:
folder, that belong to the
is placed under
and it contains applications related to the user .
that belong to the
is placed under
/System/Applications, and it contains applications
installed by Apple. Applications under the
folder, will appear under the launchpad. Examples
of such applications, are the App Store,
# Applications under the /System/Applications folder
App Store.app Image Capture.app Preview.app
Automator.app Launchpad.app QuickTime Player.app
Books.app Mail.app Reminders.app
Calculator.app Maps.app Siri.app
Calendar.app Messages.app Stickies.app
Chess.app Mission Control.app Stocks.app
Contacts.app Music.app System Preferences.app
Dictionary.app News.app TV.app
FaceTime.app Notes.app TextEdit.app
FindMy.app Photo Booth.app Time Machine.app
Font Book.app Photos.app Utilities
Home.app Podcasts.app VoiceMemos.app
library is a collection of information,
which is kept to be used. In macOs there are
multiple library folders, and each of them belong
to a different domain.
folder can contain cache files,
resources, configurations, preferences…
related to an application.
the user domain, the
folder is used to store informations, about
the applications related to the current user.
It is located under the user directory:
# Library folder in the user domain
Application Scripts LaunchAgents
Application Support Logs
the local domain,
folder is located under
the root directory
and it contains informations related to an
application(s), and shared by all the users of
# Library folder in the local domain
ColorPickers Java Ruby
Components Keychains Fonts
Frameworks Preferences Python
folder is used by macOS, and it will contains
files and resources, related to system applications.
macBook:/System$ ls Library/
# Library folder under the system domain
AWD Filesystems PreferencePanes
Accessibility Filters Preferences
folder, contains some subfolders, that can be used by
all the installed applications, and they are:
folder, contains files to
support the application.
Applications can place inside this
folder, their data and configuration
files, in multiple domains.
folder, is located under the
local domain/Library/Application Support,
it will contain files related
to all the users.
If it is within the
user domain /Users/username/Library/Application Support,
it will only contain files related to the current user.
For example, the App Store application, contains support
files in the local domain ,
and in the user domain .
macBook:/Library/Application Support/App Store$ ls
# /Library/Application Support/App Store
# files in the local domain,
macBook:/Users/username/Library/Application Support/App Store$ ls
# /Users/username/Library/Application Support/App Store
# files in the user domain.
for caching by an application.
An application can recreate the content
which is stored inside this folder,
and this folder can belong to multiple domains.
For example, an application can use the
folder, to download its update files.
# ~ stands for the user home directory
# # /Users/username/Library/Caches/com.apple.iTunes
# files under user domain.
framework, is the frame under
which an application can work.
As such the
contains the libraries that are
used, or needed, to create an application.
directory, can belong to
multiple domain. Under the
the Frameworks directory contains the
frameworks, needed to create an application.
# Frameworks folder under the system
local domain ,
directory, contains frameworks
needed to interact with a
# Frameworks folder under the local
the application preferences,
it can belong to multiple domains.
If it is in the
it is the preferences of the application for all users.
If it is in the
is the user preferences for a given
application. If it is in the
it contains preferences for applications in the system
# Preferences folder in the local
# Preferences folder in the system
Calendar Logging ProtectedCloudStorage
files and resources, which belong to the
As such it can contain a list of computers,
that are on the local network,
and which files and ressources can
belongs to the
as such it contains user
related applications, files and
Each user has
its own user folder, which is located
/Users/username, and the user
user folder, is formed of many standard
subfolders, which are:
contains user installed applications.
A user can install applications under the
user domain~/Applications folder,
or under the
local domain/Applications folder.
Those that are installed under the
are shared between the users,
and those that are installed in the
user directory ~/Applications folder,
are user related
contains items located on the user's
Desktop. The desktop is the first
screen that the user sees,
when he logs into his computer.
contains files created by the user.
contains user files, that are downloaded from the internet.
The Library folder contains information to
be used by an application, such as its
data files, its configurations,
its ressources and preferences.
A Library folder can be in the
or in the system domain.
If it is in the
it contains application information
related to the current user,
if it is in the
contains application information
related to all users.
contains video files, related to the current user.
contains music files, related to the current user.
contains user picture files .
contains files and folders, that a user wants to share,
with other users on the same machine, or on the network.
also has some unix directories, these directories are:
This directory contains unix like user commands or utilities,
which is used to get the list of files and directories.
# The /bin directory contains user commands
[ date hostname ls rm tcsh
bash dd kill mkdir rmdir test
cat df ksh mv sh unlink
chmod echo launchctl pax sleep wait4path
cp ed link ps stty zsh
csh expr ln pwd sync
contains some unix like device files, which allow
a user, to interact with a device, like he is interacting with a file.
This is where all the volumes are mounted, for example
the hard drive is found in here.
macBook:/Volumes$ tree -dlL 2
# print directories tree in Volumes
# -d : show only the directories
# l : follow symbolic links
# L 2 : show only level one and
# level two directories
|-- Macintosh\ HD -> /
|-- etc -> private/etc
|-- tmp -> private/tmp
|-- var -> private/var
contains core dumps, as in when an application has
this is a folder which contains the
folders, described earlier.
are symbolic links to folders inside this directory.