Working with the Home Folder in Mac OS X Lion

By Bob LeVitus

From the Users folder in your Mac OS X Lion Finder, you can drill down into the Home folder to see what’s inside. When the user logs on to this Mac, his Home folder appears whenever he clicks the Mac OS X Lion Home icon in the Sidebar, chooses Go→Home, or uses the keyboard shortcut Shift+Command+H.

Your Home folder is the most important folder to you as a user — or at least the one where you stash most of your files. You can store all the files you create in a subfolder within your Home folder — preferably, in a subfolder in your Home/Documents folder. The advantage of doing so is that your Home/Documents folder is easy to find, and many programs use it as the default folder for opening or saving a file.

When you open your Home folder, you see a Finder window with a little house icon and your short username in the title bar. Seeing your short username in the title bar tells you that you’re in your Home folder. Every user has a Home folder named after his or her short username (as specified in the Accounts System Preferences pane).


If your Mac has more than one user, you can see the other users’ Home folders in your Users folder, but Mac OS X prevents you from opening files from or saving files to them.

By default, your Home folder has several folders inside it created by Mac OS X Lion. The following four are the most important:

  • Desktop: If you put items (files, folders, applications, or aliases) on the Desktop, they’re actually stored in the Desktop folder.

  • Documents: This is the place to put all the documents (letters, spreadsheets, recipes, and novels) that you create.

  • Library: Preferences (files containing the settings you create in System Preferences and other places) are stored in the Library folder, along with fonts that are available only to you.

  • Public: If others on your local area network use file sharing to connect with your Mac, they can’t see or use the files or folders in your Home folder, but they can share files you’ve stored in your Home folder’s Public folder.

You can create more folders, if you like. In fact, every folder that you ever create (at least every one you create on this particular hard drive or volume) should be within your Home folder.