How to unhide your /Users directory in 10.9.3

The new Mavericks update, 10.9.3, has taken away some people's ability to see their /Users directory. Here's how to fix it

Mavericks has been updated to 10.9.3, and a peculiar thing has happened to some people who have applied the update: Their /Users directory has gone missing. More specifically, it's been hidden. Unhiding it isn't a big deal, though it does require you to use a utility that many Mac users never go near: Terminal, the command line interface for OS X.

This isn't the first time Apple's hidden essential directories from users. When OS X Lion was released in 2011, Apple began to hide the Library folder. The files in there are ordinarily meant to be left alone, so it makes a certain amount of sense to keep it hidden from view to help prevent accidents. What's more, you're still able to access it by holding down the option key while selecting the Go menu in the Finder.

Hiding the Users directory is a little more strange. If you use your Mac exclusively and haven't set up any additional user accounts, this may not be a big deal. But if you're working on a shared Mac and occasionally need to access the other user directories on your computer (say, to copy files between users), this can create a real problem.

The other curious thing about this new issue is that it isn't universal. Many people report that their /Users directory is still visible. But many others have noticed that it's no longer readily available. I'm still scratching my head on that one — it's unclear which state the /Users directory in 10.9.3 should be in, hidden or visible.

In the interim, if you have this problem, it's easy to correct. At least temporarily.

To unhide your /Users directory

  1. Open the Utilities folder (inside the Applications folder)
  2. Double-click on Terminal.
  3. Type sudo chflags nohidden /Users then return. (If you're doing it while reading these instructions, you can copy and paste that too.)
  4. You will be prompted to enter your system password. Type it in and then return.
  5. Click on the Terminal menu and select Quit Terminal.

Your /Users directory will now be visible. Temporarily, anyway. /Users will disappear when you restart.

Update: Reader Yadiel Sotomayor notes that the Go To Folder... command in the in the Finder will also bring you to the /Users directory, even if it's hidden. To do so:

  1. Go to the Finder.
  2. Hold down the shift and command keys and type G.
  3. In the text entry field, type /Users then click the Go button.

Update 2: Apple has released iTunes 11.2.1, available for download through Software Update, which corrects the problem — looks like it may have bean a bug after all. In the interest of continuity I'm leaving my bloviation about Apple's track record with hiding essential folders from users below.

I felt that Apple was nannyish when they obscured user access to the /Library folder in Lion. Assuming that Mac users are going to create more trouble for themselves by playing with the /Library folder is like hearing "children shouldn't play with matches:" Condescending at best.

I'm giving Apple the benefit of the doubt here by assuming that this is a bug that got through at the last minute and not another attempt to restrict user access to the file system. And if there is an intentional restriction to user access, I hope to understand why soon. Hopefully Apple will give us some guidance on why the /Users directory is hidden, or will release a patch to fix it. Until then, this'll help, at least until you restart.

Did you notice your /Users directory went bye-bye with the 10.9.3 update? Is it a problem for you? Let me know in the comments.

Peter Cohen
  • Yup, mine's gone. But the little house icon with my custom name is still in my sidebar and I'm the only one using my Mac, so no big deal, I guess.
  • Disappeared for me, as well. You are being a little generous giving Apple the benefit of the doubt, as they have a well-worn history of focusing on simplicity to the detriment of those users who need a feature, and almost as long of a history of not announcing those changes before they happen or in an official changelist.
  • I give Apple the benefit of the doubt because I don't understand their motivation. And in the absence of evidence or explanation, it's inappropriate to speculate on why it was done.
  • Hanlon's razor is ordinarily a good idea, but if you grant this is a big that slipped through, you still have to presume there was code targeting hiding the Users directory that should not have been released, in which case they still had the intent, just released it prematurely, *or* that Apple's level of competence is so low that they were not aware of a change to one of the most critical areas of the file system. Possible, say, if this is shared iOS/OSX code, and they accidentally introduced iOS behavior into OSX and never caught it. I don't think Apple is that incompetent, and I don't think you do either. The only remaining alternatives are that Apple meant to do it, or that they mean to do it later, but accidentally left it in this update. Sent from the iMore App
  • Apple is trying to kill File Access all together imho. I think that's why they took your homefolder out of Finder by default. I know I'm speculating, but I wouldn't be surprised.
  • I don't believe that the users folder has been hidden on purpose. I noticed some permissions issues after the update: and I was actually able to make the change permanent by simply repairing permissions after running the terminal command. Try it out and see if it works for you. Side note: I updated via the App Store, noticed the issue, then tried installing the Combo Update, which changed nothing.
  • This isn't about that problem, but a different one. Peter, have you heard of the sound dropping out on Mac's and Apply TV's? It drops out for a few seconds then comes back in ever 5-10 minutes. It's extremely annoying, was wondering if anyone at iMore has been experiencing it.
  • I’m on a shared Mac with the hidden /Users folder issue. Another workaround from Dave Mark at The Loop is to simply make an alias of the /Users folder and drag it to the Finder sidebar Favorites. In addition to the hidden /Users folder, I also have an issue with the /Users/Shared folder being hidden as well; otherwise, I can see the home folders under /Users. (I created a “Shared” folder alias and placed it in my Finder Favorites, too.)
  • The Following was taken from an article by Chris Breen at: Dave Hamilton at the Mac Observer seems to have sniffed out the root issue. As it turns out, this isn’t a problem caused by OS X 10.9.3, but rather some kind of interaction between iTunes 11.2 and Find My Mac. If you have the latest version of iTunes installed and, within the iCloud system preference, have Find My Mac enabled (even if you’re running 10.9.2), the Users folder will be hidden. Switch off Find My Mac, use the Terminal trick above to unhide the folder, and the Users folder will remain visible even after you restart.
    However, if you reenable Find My Mac, the Users folder will disappear the instant you switch on the option. Therefore, if you want both a visible Users folder and an enabled Find My Mac, use the AppleScript trick listed here or take the suggestion of a couple of commenters and create an alias of the folder and place it in an easily accessible location. (Check out Chris' article for Unhiding the User's Folder).
  • Did you try repairing permissions after running chflags? It's worked on my personal Macs and several of my customer's.
  • Hi Mike, Thanks for your reply. Yes I did repair permissions, but that didn't correct the problem. After having made the User folder viewable, I turned off Find My Mac and rebooted. After reboot, the User folder was still visible. I keep a finder window open and then turned back on Find My Mac. The User folder disappeared from the finder window just as described by Dave Hamilton in Chris Breen's article.
  • I never would have known about this issue had I never began reading the headlines across several websites. I'm so used to getting to my home folder via a keyboard shortcut (using Alfred).
    The User folder is indeed hidden when I go up the file directory.
  • You can create an alias and it will stay even after a reboot
  • Looks like it was a bug after all — Apple fixed it in iTunes 11.2.1, which was made available late yesterday.
  • I used to yell at my honey when she didn't install updates right away like i did.
    Now, I yell at her for updating without waiting to see how bad it's going to be.
    When the last update became available I told the installer I wanted to "wait before installing." The installer started up automatically after about an hour without checking with me again.
    I've set both machines to stop looking for updates. A Google search for "mavericks" is now my preferred method of getting update alerts.
  • I updated to 10.9.3 and installed the iTunes 11.2.1 update on May 16. I usually just put my Mac to sleep at night. Today was the first re-start since the updates. My folder "Documents" in the "Favorites" section in the Finder window--which held all of my files--disappeared. Is the above fix for this bug?