Permanently Unhide Library

May 15th, 2012

When Apple shipped Mac OS X Lion 10.7, the “Library” folder located within every user’s home folder, which had previously been visible to users in the Finder, was made invisible. To access the Library folder, users must now hold down the option key while selecting the “Go” menu in the Finder.

This is probably a good move for the vast majority of Mac users, but for folks with even a small amount of interest in tinkering with the configuration files and caches of various applications, it’s an outright nuisance.

The nuisance is exacerbated by Apple’s decision to build in the “make invisible” action into every single dot-update to the OS. So if you’ve taken the trouble to undo Apple’s work and make the folder visible again, you’ll notice that when you updated from 10.7.3 to 10.7.4, poof!, it’s gone again.

I solved this very early on for my own needs by adding the command-line instructions for re-showing the Library folder to my Terminal configuration script. Every time I open a new Terminal window, the Library folder is aggressively set to visible again. In practice, this has meant that since 10.7 shipped, I’ve never been bothered once by Apple’s disappearing act.

For less Terminal-intensive Mac users, this solution might not be sufficient. If you, or somebody you love, truly wants the Library folder to be forever visible in the Finder, a good trick is to add a script Login item to do the deed. Here are detailed instructions for achieving this:

  1. Download UnhideLibrary. Make sure it unzips to a script application file after downloading. You’ll need to keep this file around, so I recommend storing it somewhere in your home folder.
  2. Open System Preferences.
  3. Click the Users & Groups icon.
  4. Select the Login Items tab for appropriate user.
  5. Click the + icon and select the downloaded UnhideLibrary script item.
  6. Log out and log back in again.
  7. Never curse Apple’s Library folder policy again.

The script file is just a few lines of AppleScript code to invoke the appropriate shell script. I originally used a plain shell script file but Thomas Borowski noticed it sometimes opens as a regular document at login time. He also wrote his own post essentially stating all the things I’m now repeating here!

So long Library folder, see you again, automatically, on 10.7.5.

10 Responses to “Permanently Unhide Library”

  1. Marcin Says:

    Worked like a charm – thanks a lot! :)

  2. Marc Says:

    So awesome. Thank you. I didn’t know the command to change it. I use Path Finder so I get extended attributes in the Info panel and used that but it was such a hassle. Now I just open a Terminal window.

  3. Ian Beck Says:

    For those who use bash and want to try the Terminal-method, add this to your ~/.bash_profile file:

    /usr/bin/chflags nohidden ~/Library

    If you use a different shell, you’ll need to edit (or create) a different file, but the basic command should be the same.

  4. Jon Says:

    Or you could just drag the folder into the “FAVORITES” panel on the left side of the Finder window. (or make an alias on the Desktop.)

  5. Doug Adams Says:

    Aye. I used chflags and dragged the Library folder into FAVORITES and it’s been there for every update.

  6. Stephen Magladry Says:

    How about unhiding it once, then make an alias of the folder With this method, it wouldn’t matter if the folder got hidden.

  7. Wagner Matos Says:

    Man, you’re legend! This is so convenient!

  8. Charles Ross Says:

    I haven’t downloaded your script, so I don’t know what method you’re using to show it, but the chflags method mentioned by Ian is what I used when Lion first came out, and it’s never re-hidden itself.

    Alternatively, I also use TinkerTool to show all hidden files and folders, and that may be why the Library is always visible for me. Folders like .vim and .Xcode are visible in him home folder.

  9. xiligroup Says:

    Very good idea – for the step 5: instead click+…. Just drag and drop the app icon in the list !

  10. Roger J Gagnon Says:

    Perfect! Thank you very much.

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