How to Use Your MacBook’s Home Folder with Mavericks

By Mark L. Chambers

Each user account you create in Mavericks is actually a self-contained universe on your MacBook. For example, each user has a number of unique characteristics and folders devoted to just that person, and Mavericks keeps track of everything that user changes or creates.

This unique universe includes a different system of folders for each user account on your system. The top-level folder uses the short username Mavericks assigns when that user account is created. Naturally, the actual folder name is different for each person. Mac techno types typically call this folder your Home folder. (On the sidebar, look for the teeny house icon under the Favorites heading, marked with your account name.)

When you’re on the hunt for your Home folder, don’t look for a folder that’s actually named Home. Instead, look for the short username that was assigned when you created the user account.

Each account’s Home folder contains a set of subfolders, including

  • Movies

  • Music

  • Pictures

  • Downloads (for files you download by using Safari or through Apple Mail attachments)

  • Public (for files you want to share with others on your network)

  • Sites (for web pages created by the user)

  • Documents (for files created by the user)

Although you can store your stuff at the root (top level) of your drive — or even on your Desktop — that gaggle of files, folders, and aliases can get crowded and confusing quickly. Here’s a Mark’s Maxim to live by:

Your Home folder is where you hang out and where you store your stuff. Use it to make your computing life much easier!

Create subfolders within your Documents folder to organize your files and folders even further.

Your Home folder is really convenient to reach, because it appears in the Finder window sidebar. One click of your Home folder, and all your stuff is within easy reach. (If your Home folder doesn’t appear in the sidebar, that’s easy to fix: Choose Finder→ Preferences, click the Sidebar tab, and then select the check box to display your Home folder.)

In addition to using the Finder window sidebar, you can reach your Home folder in other convenient ways:

  • From the Go menu: Choose Go→Home to display your Home folder immediately from the Finder window. Alternatively, you can press cmd+Shift+H to accomplish the same thing.

  • From the Open dialog: The Mavericks standard File Open dialog also includes the same Home folder (and subfolder) icons as the Finder window sidebar.

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  • In any new Finder window you open: If you like, you can set every Finder window you open to automatically display your Home folder:

    1. Choose Finder→Preferences and click the General tab to display the dialog.

    2. Click the arrow button at the right side of the New Finder Windows Show pop-up menu.

      A menu pops up (hence the name).

    3. Click the Home entry (with the house icon and your short username) in the menu.

    4. Click the Close button at the upper-left corner of the dialog.

      You’re set to go. From now on, every Finder window you open displays your Home folder as the starting location!

Here’s another reason to use your Home folder to store your stuff: default locations! Mavericks expects your stuff to be there when you migrate your files from an older Mac to a new Mac, and all iLife and iWork applications look to your Home folder when loading and saving projects.

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