Why do OS X have three libraries???

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Logicman91, Jun 13, 2010.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2010
    I have used mac for some years now, and know the OS well, but there is something that always has confused me: There are three different libraries in OS X. the first is: Macintosh HD>Library - the second: Macintosh HD>User>Library - and i recently noticed a third: Macintosh HD>System>Library.

    The reason this annoys me is because, as everyone know, there's often programs asking you to delete files from the library etc. I know i could just search for the right directory but still... kind of annoying, and a bit confusing at times.

    So why do Mac OS X have three different libraries and what are the difference between them?
  2. macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Dec 13, 2007
    Macintosh HD > Library is for software installed for all users.

    Macintosh HD > User > Library for software only installed for that specific user.

    Macintosh HD > System > Library is your essential OS X system whatnot that you needn't bother yourself with.
  3. macrumors 68040


    Aug 28, 2009
    Software isn't the right way to put it. While that can be the case with things like preference panes, that really isn't an accurate way to define the Library folders.

    They are in essence resource folders. Each provides it's resources from the least specific to most specific level of the OS.


    This hierarchy also has a override structure. Such that fonts, preferences, etc take precedence over one another depending on where they are. So if I have a font in my Library folder and the same in the Local Library, the one in my Fonts folder will be used.

    This is why a common troubleshooting technique is to create a new user, as this can help rule out or confirm that the problem in the User's Library folder.

    It may pain you to know there is another Library folder, /Network/Library. It isn't very common for most users as it is an automount share defined on a server for shared network resources.
  4. macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Dec 13, 2007
    Yes I wasn't sure software was quite the right word.

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