Why does OSX have so many Library Folders?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Richard1028, Jun 8, 2009.

  1. Richard1028 macrumors 68000

    Jan 8, 2009
    I have one in the root of my hard drive, One in the system folder and another in my user folder.

    Coming from Windows recently, I'm assuming this library scheme is OSX's version of the registry?

    Oh and btw... can I delete some of those Printer folders for those I don't use? I can gain 1 gb by doing so.
  2. Guiyon macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2008
    North Shore, MA
    Far from it! Each Library is (ideally) for a specific use. IIRC, the "/System/Library" folder contains items requires for the core system (critical frameworks, extensions, etc). "/Library" is used for system-wide preferences, third-party additions and other items. Finally, each user has a "Library" folder in their home folder for their personal settings along with any extras they need to install.
  3. jccbin macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2001
    OS X has roots in Unix, and the Library folders relate to that.

    Because both Unix and Mac OS X are MULTI-User operating systems, certain things are specific to individual users. Things like desktop backgrounds, email account settings, preferences for specific apps. These live in your Users' folder (~/Library is the shorthand for saying /Users/<your username>/Library).

    There are a set of global library items that apply to EVERY User of the system. These are things like global serial numbers for Apps (so that Photoshop, for instance, can be used by every user on the system). There are other settings and things that apply globally too. These are in the /Library folder. It is here that all third-parties are expected to put their library-type settings.

    The /System/Library/ folder is where Apple stores all their library-type information. It is essentially restricted for their use and contains most of their "secret sauce" frameworks and private programming that they do NOT document for developers.

    The reality is that all these libraries are editable by you, the end-user Administrator, but that messing with the content of Library folders other than your own ~/Library folder (and even that is to be taken on with caution) is not wise for a non-Unix-geek.

    The Mac OS X does not have a central repository for its information like the Windows Registry. Prefs are generally kept in separate files and referenced directly by the entity or app that needs them. This is different from the unified database in Windows in that there is no "database" to become corrupted or which requires an app to edit or modify per se.

    The subject is deep, and I am just skimming the surface. I hope this helps.
  4. larkost macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2007
    There is actually one Library that is missing here:


    That is used when you have settings/plugins/frameworks/etc that you want to apply to a whole network of computers. This is sperate from Apple's WorkgroupManager/MCX system (the analog of Workgroup Policies).

    And all of this does not come from Unix, but rather from NeXT (which is also MacOS X's source of its Unix roots). You will not find an analog in linux or the BSD's (don't know about Solaris).
  5. Richard1028 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 8, 2009
    Ok, thanks for the library answers...

    But can I delete those printer folders I don't use?
  6. tiga2001 macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2008
    Yeah, it is safe to delete the printers you don't use. The next time you use those printers, they will pop back into existence and take up space again.
  7. sammich macrumors 601


    Sep 26, 2006
    He means the printer drivers, once you delete those you need to get the OS X install disc to install be able to use that printer again.
  8. celticpride678

    Feb 15, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Or you can get it from the manufacturers website/DVD that came with the printer.
  9. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    Not so quick. Some manufacturers do not make bundled drivers available online. Epson is notorious for this. The Epson print drivers provided by Apple are not available on Epson's website. If you delete them from your hard drive, then you must reinstall them from your System Restore or MacOS X distribution disc. You cannot download them from Epson's website.

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