How to access the Library folder on a Mac?

For most people, not having access to the Library is not a problem. Most of us don't need this level of access. But for some, it’s useful — even essential — so not having access can cause a problem. Not only that, but for those who've suffered any kind of malware, ransomware, adware or other infection, gaining access to the Library is the most effective way of forever eradicating a serious problem that has infected your Mac.

In this article, we cover how you can gain access to your Library folder.

How to access the Mac Library folder?

Although this skill isn’t essential for everyone, some power users need to know how to find Library on a Mac. If you want, you can even show the Library folder in a Mac permanently, so that you never need to wonder where it is and why you can’t access it.

The Library folder, also known as a directory, has long-since been a go-to location for Mac users when an application is misbehaving. It is often easier to go to the source of a problem and fix it directly than attempt to troubleshoot an issue. Before you do that, you need to access this hidden directory.

There are a couple of ways to make this visible, whether or not you want this to be permanent or only visible as needed.

To make this change permanent, follow these instructions:

Finding Library via Terminal

  1. Launch Terminal, which you can find in /Applications/Utilities
  2. Enter the following command in Terminal: chflags nohidden ~/Library. What this does is change the flag visibility to on, thereby making Library a visible folder instead of one that is hidden.
  3. Click Return
  4. Quit Terminal
  5. Now Library should be visible in Finder and should sit alongside other folders and files.
  6. If you ever want to undo this change, use Terminal to input this command: chflags hidden ~/Library - to hide the Library again.

The path Apple recommends

Another way to make Library visible, although not permanently visible, is to follow another set of instructions that Apple recommends.

Apple prefers people not make regular use of Terminal. There is too much of a risk that something unexpected and fairly catastrophic could go wrong. Plus, making the Library permanently visible could have the same impact. So taking the “Apple recommended” approach means that Library will only appear as long as you keep the Finder window for the Library folder open.

Here is how you can temporarily view files in the Mac Library:

  1. Either within Desktop or with a Finder window open, hold down the Option key and select the Go menu;
  2. The Library will be listed as one of the items in the Go menu;
  3. Double-click on Library, which will open a Finder window containing the contents of the Library folder;
  4. Once you close that window, the Library folder will be hidden again. This method is only temporary, designed to give you immediate access.

Another similar method, for anyone using macOS Mavericks or later, is to follow these steps to view the Library:

  1. Open a Finder window
  2. Click View > Show View Options
  3. Place a checkmark in a box to Show Library Folder

Now you should be able to access and open the Library folder on a Mac with ease and to do this whenever you need. 

How to reveal hidden folders

Use Shift + Command + Period key shortcut to see hidden folders in your Documents. They will appear grayed out compared to the regular folders.


How to peek underneath your macOS

Some system folders and apps are deliberately hidden from view. Besides Finder and Terminal there is an easier way to look under the hood of your Mac. Apps like CleanMyMac X will show you the entire storage structure of your computer. What for? Because this way you can find your forgotten folders and find what's wasting the most space. 

Here is an interactive storage map I made for my Mac using the Space Lens tool in CleanMyMac X.

You can download this app for free — and make your own storage map.
Once you install the app, click Space Lens in the sidebar.

Those bubbles have different sizes — depending on the folder size. You can click these folders and explore them deeper. Using this method you can find folders that "slipped through the cracks", for example, old backups or documents. Cool way to learn more about your Mac and free up space at the same time!

Look at the screenshot, the Library folder is also there:


Okay. Hope you found your Library folder and learned something new about your Mac. Stay tuned for more Mac tips.

CleanMyMac X
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.