Sunday, December 22, 2013


App Store products have stringent ‘sandbox’ requirements that are reflected in locations used for their support and preference flies. The main point of entry is through ~/Library/

Containers; each installed app there has its own folder, containing a miniature home folder constructed largely of links to your own folders, and traditional items such as Application Support and Preferences.

Your home folder also includes sub-folders intended for specific types of media, including Movies, Music and Pictures. These are the default locations for iMovie, iTunes and iPhoto libraries, but each app lets you change library or content location, which is helpful if you want to keep large libraries on a separate or networked drive. Unless you have good reason to be different, it’s simplest to use these as Apple intends, to keep some order within your Home folder.

If you wish, you can relocate the iTunes Media folder to a location outside your Music folder using the Advanced tool in its Preferences

Curiously some find it harder to move or share files between different users on the same Mac than between different Macs. The simplest solution is to place documents in the /Users/Shared folder, which all user accounts can access. This can have its own Library folder, which is useful for sharing fonts between some but not all users. An AirDrop virtual drive appears in Finder windows when activated.

FILE AND FOLDER STRUCTURE  -  True to its name, the system library contains components essential to OS X, hardware and everything that works at low level. A typical example is /System/Library/Extensions, which contains code that extends the OS X kernel to address hardware such as graphics cards and Thunderbolt ports. Third-party products can install their own kernel extensions (.kext files) there, but an errant .kext can readily cause kernel panics and other serious issues. The system Fonts folder must contain those fonts required by OS X, currently around 43 files, but shouldn’t contain others.

The main library houses support files that are common to all users. In its sub-folders, you’ll find the great bulk of the fonts that you have installed, third-party System Preferences panes and extensions, and in Application Support all manner of files required to make Apple and other apps work properly. In contrast to the system library, it’s tailored by apps and other tools to make your Mac what it is. The Library in your home folder is more personal still, containing your personal preference settings and all other support material specific to you. Although usually hidden from the Finder, it’s easily revealed by pressing Alt when you open the Finder’s Go menu.
You don’t have to install apps in the top-level Applications folder, and can run them temporarily from within most other folders, including the Documents folder in your Home folder (~/Documents) if you wish. However, most users find it best to segregate apps into the Applications folder; you can use the folder of the same name in your Home folder if you want to limit use of that app to just yourself, but updaters may not notice them there. Indeed, nesting apps inside custom folders inside your Applications folder can sometimes confuddle updaters, so you’re best installing each in the default location in /Applications.

If your Mac is sharing files or more over a network, then you should see a top-level Network folder offering you those shared facilities. Sometimes routers and other devices appear there even if they’re not offering any shared resources, though.

Sticking to this standard form of folder layout ensures OS X can find the right files at the right time, and you’re never upset by reports of missing fonts or other resources. However, you can be more creative within your home folder, which is what it’s intended for.

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