Special Folders

There are two interpretations of the root directory on Mac OS X: one that’s displayed for Finder views, and a Unix one that is mainly accessible from the Terminal. For more information on accessing the Unix root directory from the Finder, see "Exploring root" later in this chapter.

When you click on the icon of the boot hard drive in the Sidebar, you will see the folders listed in Table 9-2. These folders contain essential system files, applications, and the directories for all the system’s users.

Table 9-2. Special folders in the root directory




a This folder exists in both the local and system domains. Most of its content belongs to the admin group, but some applications, such as Printer Setup Utility, can’t be modified by even admin-group users.


Local, System a

Holds applications available to all users of this machine.



Contains resources available to all users of this machine, such as fonts, plug-ins, and documentation.



This is the system folder for Mac OS X.



Contains user home directories

System Folder


This is the system folder for Mac OS 9. Present only if Mac OS 9 is also installed on this volume.



Miscellaneous files from a Mac OS 9 installation.

Applications (Mac OS 9)


Applications from a Mac OS 9 installation.

User directories

Once created, each user is provided with a series of subdirectories in the home directory (/Users/ username ...

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