How to Get Your Library Folder Back in Mac OS X Lion

by Matt

Now that Apple has released Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, you may have noticed that some of your folders are missing. Above all, the Library folder in your user account seems to have vanished. This folder holds nearly all the data that applications save without asking you, from your mail messages to calendars, preferences to virtual disks. It’s a pretty important folder. So how can you see this folder and start using it again? Well, there are a couple of ways.

First, if you simply want to access the folder on an occasional basis, it’s easy:

  1. From the Finder, hold down the Option key on your keyboard and click the Go menu. You should see that the menu has a “Library” option.
  2. Click the “Library” option, and a new Finder window will appear with your Library folder.
The problem with the above approach is that you need to go to the Go menu every single time you want to see your Library folder, and that’s not practical. Worse, if you need to access the Library folder from within an application, you can’t, since it still appears invisible from within the Finder. Luckily, there is a way you can make the folder visible. Unluckily, you need to use the Terminal.
To make your Library folder permanently visible, follow these steps:
  1. Launch Terminal from the /Applications/Utilities folder.
  2. Type this single line and press return to make the Finder visible again. This assumes you are logged into the account in which you want the Library to become visible:
chflags nohidden ~/Library

Now you should be able to see the Library folder from within your user folder. I would highly suggest you drag the folder to the Favorites section of the Finder Sidebar so that you can quickly access the folder. Even if it becomes invisible in the future (say, through a Mac OS X system update), you’ll still be able to access it from the Sidebar.

P.S. Based on my observations, if you are upgrading from Snow Leopard, and you had placed the Library folder in your Sidebar, the Library will remain there even after the upgrade. For you lucky people, this tip may be unnecessary.

Did this tip work for you? Have you found an even easier way to access the user Library? Let others know in the comments.

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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jan July 21, 2011 at 5:40 am

It worked! yeah and thanks

2 brendan mitchell July 21, 2011 at 8:52 am

I thought I was going crazy, I couldn’t find the library folder anywhere!
thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

3 Chris July 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm

THANK YOU! My husband was FREAKING out about this, haha.

4 Kev July 22, 2011 at 3:38 am

Hi, this method shows the Library as described but i still can’t see the iTunes folders containing tv, films, music etc?
Am i missing something??


5 Kev July 22, 2011 at 3:40 am

Oops, My Bad!!

Found it in another location!!!

cheers for the library tip though.

6 @jpdesigntheory July 22, 2011 at 5:38 am

Thanks for posting this! +1

7 gj July 22, 2011 at 9:53 am

be blessed! finding – and posting this within 24 hrs after lion’s out – be blessed! did ‘find’ it in terminal (didn’t think to chflag – duh); but love the option-go tip in finder:way cool.

8 Jan July 22, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Excellent tip! :) Thanks!

9 paige July 22, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Works for local drives. Still having trouble seeing Library folder on time capsule parse bundle backup. Any ideas?

10 Joseph July 23, 2011 at 5:42 am


11 Kelvinkino July 23, 2011 at 5:46 am

Thanks for the great support~!

It help me a lot due to Library is really important for mac user~! Great Job

12 darkside July 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I can’t find quicktime folder in Library folder. I want to add extra codec component to quicktime.

13 frodriguezm67 July 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Thanks for the tip. It restored my Library folder permanently in a blink!!!

14 Richard July 26, 2011 at 4:48 am

Thanks! This did the trick.

15 Ian July 26, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Thanks – that had me baffled for a while. Your tip worked.

16 LaBeffa July 27, 2011 at 12:35 am

thx MATT super trick.

I still have a problem though. In the old snow leopard I had put a folder created from me (“bricks” folder) in the Library folder. I had put the folder created from me (the “bricks” folder) in the Library folder because I thought it was more difficult to find.

That folder disappeared.

Do you know if that folder (“bricks” folder) still exist or it has been deleted with the installation of Lion?

Thx again for your tip.

17 jack July 28, 2011 at 3:45 am

holley smokey….

thanks a zillion times….

18 Hassen July 31, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Great! Thank you.

19 Guillan August 1, 2011 at 7:35 am

You’re the man!!! Thanks. God Bless You.

20 Marc Haefliger August 1, 2011 at 8:20 am

Thumbs up, thanks!

21 Jovan August 4, 2011 at 6:31 am

Thank you!

22 Keith I. August 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Kudos Matt. Thank you for the correction of Apple’s retarded decision to hide.
How extremely frustrating that Apple would hide the library and prevent it from being searched. Give me back control and stop catering to the stupid by trying to protect them from themselves.

23 online calculator August 9, 2011 at 2:22 am

That is great post. It’s very nice. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

24 Charlie N. August 10, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Thanks a ton. You just answered much more than my single “Where’s the Library?” question. Liking these Mac controls on Lion even more now.

25 David August 13, 2011 at 10:21 am

No hassle well explained problem solver. Many thanks.

26 Muki August 15, 2011 at 8:25 am

Hi Matt, Wonderfully articulated and it was so useful. Thank you so muchhhhh. Our company moved the emails to gmail server and i lost mails in the sent and trash. Your article saved me. Wish you all success. Muki

27 Andrew August 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm

This has been the most helpful Lion related tutorial yet. Thanks a ton! Now hopefully I can get all my outbox messages back into mail so I can search them for business purposes.

28 Hannah August 20, 2011 at 2:52 am

Thanks. It helps hips. I also have problem to get my old website files back to iWEB in my new mac with Lion OS after my old mac died. Any idea how to copy the file back to the iWeb? I have used the some tips provided online. So far no luck.

Thanks again. Hannah

29 Marcia August 22, 2011 at 7:48 am

OK I’m a total newbie at this. found your directions, went to user, then apps, then utilities and found terminal.
found this:
Last login: Mon Aug 22 08:43:33 on ttys000
Intel-Computer-2:~ Marcia$

How do I put the line in this thingy?

30 Hannah August 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Hi Marcia,
You simple put the cursor next to Marcia$ and type in the text as required.
Good luck!

31 Barry T August 29, 2011 at 6:09 am

A related issue: I regularly make a copy of my home folder and transfer the mail folder to my other computer. I have been able to reveal the Library folder on both computers, but whenever I make a copy of the home folder, the Library once again is concealed and I can’t figure out a way to reveal it. Using the terminal command above doesn’t help. Any ideas?

32 Anil September 2, 2011 at 4:05 am

This tip was really helpful. I’m still stumbling around in Lion. Great resource, thanks!

33 Ken C September 6, 2011 at 8:22 pm

I need access to my Mail folder so that I can upload the contents to DropBox for syncing. This works perfectly. Thank you.

34 Noel September 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm

So you can avoid using Terminal, I found an easier way to put the Library folder in the finder favorites sidebar. If you go to finder and do a search for the Library folder you can drag the folder to the finder favorites sidebar. The Library folder has a picture of the pantheon on it. Only type the 1st 2 letters “li” or it won’t show up. Sometimes it won’t work and the folders disappears, but just keep trying until it stays there so you can have time to drag the folder to the sidebar.

35 Bill September 24, 2011 at 11:41 am

Thanks for the fix. It seems that we are unable to perform spotlight searches within the user/library folder as well. Any ideas?

36 Bill September 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Tried re-indexing with spotlight to make users/name/Library visible in search.
Spotlight is unable to find the Library folder in a complete hard drive search. If you change the search scope in finder preferences to only the current folder, and if you begin your search in the Library directory, then you can search the contents of Library.

37 Noel September 27, 2011 at 11:41 am

Ok cool! I don’t have any other ideas.

38 Gary October 1, 2011 at 11:42 am

I agree with Keith. Many thanks for the tip which worked without a problem. Looks the the government has been working with Apple to protect me from myself…again.

39 Kathy October 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Thank you! Was setting up my new mac and it drove me nuts that Library was no where to be found.

40 Anton Stocker October 4, 2011 at 3:24 am

Brilliant! I was going crazy trying to locate my Kindle content!

41 Ken October 9, 2011 at 12:07 am

Thanks! Got my Library view back in Finder using: chflags nohidden ~/Library

42 Filip October 22, 2011 at 2:58 am

Thank you so much!

43 MaxR. December 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Thank you so much ! I was finding it very odd not to be able to access my Library folder…..!!

44 Kimberly December 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm

You are a saint. I’ve been trying to figure this out for three days. Thank you.

45 Ben December 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm

How do I use terminal? I typed the code in and pressed enter but it gives me another account line…and no Library!

46 Naomi January 5, 2012 at 2:31 am

thanks so much, this worked a treat!

47 LizCo February 12, 2012 at 3:32 am

Many thanks for this tip. Now I can enjoy my Sunday :-)

48 CGBCOMS February 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Excellent tip! I was stuck not being able to “Print to Video” from my FCP 7.0.3 as my Sony M15U was not being recognized after I upgraded to Lion from Snow Leopard. I was going to uninstall Lion when I thought of “trashing my preferences” and thanks to your article, I found where the Library folder was now hiding, trashed my FCP 7 preferences and voilà! It’s working again. Thank you!

49 Diane Challenor February 15, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Fantastic assistance. Thank you very much. All I wanted to do was delete a template for Office Word and I couldn’t find the Library folder. I followed your instructions and I’ve located and unhidden the library folder.

50 Lourdes February 20, 2012 at 3:54 am

It worked, thanks! Now I can see the Library folder permanently, which is a relief! Cheers.

51 Marit Sneve Rikardso May 11, 2012 at 7:51 am

This tip saved me today!! :-) )
How to Get Your Library Folder Back in Mac OS X Lion via @sharethis

52 Mr. Man August 9, 2012 at 6:00 pm

it didn’t work I typed the code in and it did nothing

53 Bob Evans December 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm

RT @TopsyRT: How to Get Your Library Folder Back in Mac OS X Lion

54 Maxious January 24, 2013 at 8:12 am

The Keyboard has an option Key? i did have a problem trying to find the any key before but just could not find this one. But that being said YaY this works… thank you sooo much

55 Tiffani March 31, 2013 at 1:08 pm

It worked! Thank you!!

56 scott June 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm

LIFESAVER thank you

57 darren August 31, 2013 at 6:59 am

I found a way to make it so you don’t have to use go menu all the time. all you have to do is when you get to the library menu you click and hold the folder picture at the top and drag it were you want it to be.

58 Linda September 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Thanks, worked great!

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