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Here you will find a brief overview of these directories, as well as an explanation of each system level directory as found in Mac OS X and macOS system software.Directory Structures of Mac OS X, Examined and Explained
By default, if you glance in the root of your Mac’s hard disk from Finder, you’ll see some unfamiliar sounding directories. The underlying directory structures of Mac OS are best revealed by visiting the root directory of the Mac, which many Mac users may encounter when they visit their own “Macintosh HD”.
Going further from the command line, you will see even more root level directories if you type the following:
Here you will find directories with names like; cores, dev, etc, System, private, sbin, tmp, usr, var, etc, opt, net, home, Users, Applications, Volumes, bin, network, etc.
Rather than wonder at the mystery of what all these folders, directories, and items mean, let’s examine and detail what these directories are, and what they contain, as they are relevant to the Mac operating system.
In no particular order, here is a table to help with this effort of exploring the base system directory structure of Mac OS:
/Applications Self explanatory, this is where your Mac’s applications are kept
/Developer The Developer directory appears only if you have installed Apple’s Developer Tools, and no surprise, contains developer related tools, documentation, and files.
/Library Shared libraries, files necessary for the operating system to function properly, including settings, preferences, and other necessities (note: you also have a Libraries folder in your home directory, which holds files specific to that user).
/Network largely self explanatory, network related devices, servers, libraries, etc
/System System related files, libraries, preferences, critical for the proper function of Mac OS X
/Users All user accounts on the machine and their accompanying unique files, settings, etc. Much like /home in Linux
/Volumes Mounted devices and volumes, either virtual or real, such as hard disks, CD’s, DVD’s, DMG mounts, etc
/ Root directory, present on virtually all UNIX based file systems. Parent directory of all other files
/bin Essential common binaries, holds files and programs needed to boot the operating system and run properly
/etc Machine local system configuration, holds administrative, configuration, and other system files
/usr Second major hierarchy, includes subdirectories that contain information, configuration files, and other essentials used by the operating system
/sbin Essential system binaries, contains utilities for system administration
/tmp Temporary files, caches, etc
/var Variable data, contains files whose contents change as the operating system runs
You may very well find other directories as well, depending on the version of Mac OS X you have, and depending on what apps and system adjustments you have made.
Nonetheless you can be sure that if any directory is at the root of Mac OS X, it is important, and shouldn’t be messed with at least without detailed knowledge of what you’re doing. Never delete, modify, or otherwise alter system files and directories on a Mac (at least without knowing exactly what you’re doing and why) because doing so can disrupt the operating system and prevent it from working as expected. Always back up a Mac before exploring and modifying system level directories.
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The following improvements apply to both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs unless otherwise noted:
Improves automatic iDisk syncing for customers whose .Mac username contains a period (.).
Improves overall .Mac Sync performance.
Addresses an issue with automatic and periodic syncing as set in the .Mac System Preferences panel.
Reduces .Mac Sync timeouts when syncing large data sets.
Prevents large amounts of Address Book data from being changed without authorization.
Addresses an issue which could result in properly unregistering a computer.
Addresses issues related to syncing a large number of changes to .Mac
Prevents third-party syncing applications from presenting an extraneous initial sync alert.
Addresses a wake-from-sleep issue for Kensington PilotMouse Mini Bluetooth devices when used with a MacBook.
Resolves issues in which Bluetooth-based devices might not respond after sleep on some computers.
iChat, iCal, and iSync
Resolves an issue in which iCal reminders may appear off to the side of the screen.
Resolves an issues in which some events added to particular dates may not display correctly.
Event notes are now synced between iCal and Nokia N70 phones.
Adds iSync support for more devices.
Includes iChat support for USB Video Class webcams.
Networking and modem
Addresses a permissions issue when copying a file with extended attributes from an AFP share of an Xsan volume, via the Finder.
Resolves an issue when using kerberos authentication with Active Directory if the user is a member of many groups.
Resolves performance issues with Intel-based iMacs that could occur when determining high-speed network switches.
Improves reliability when faxing in France or Belgium via an external Apple USB Modem.
Adds support for WPA2 encryption in Network Diagnostics.
Addresses an issue with automatic AirPort connections that use different authentication methods.
Addresses an issue in which Network Preferences may unexpectedly quit after disconnecting a network-aware USB device while Network Preferences is open.
Addresses an issue with iMac’s maintaining manual duplex settings.
Internal Apple modem drivers now offer the same robustness as external Apple modem drivers.
External USB modems now report DLE-d for busy tone detection.
Adds modem support for Russia.
Fax receiving now works when the country code is set to France.
Resolves an issue in the Open dialog when browsing AFP volumes within applications using Rosetta.
Resolves a printing issue that could occur with applications using Rosetta, while logged in as Active Directory User that has an SMB home directory.
Resolves a printing issue with applications using Rosetta while logged in as an Active Directory User with SMB home directory.
Resolves an issue in which temporary files might use excessive disk space when printing to some third-party printers.
For information on the benefits this update includes for Aperture, see this article.
Resolves issues for these third-party applications that use Rosetta: LEGO StarWars, Adobe InDesign, H&R Block TaxCut, Big Business’ Big Business 5.1.0.
Resolves an issue in which Adobe Arno Pro Italics fonts might not install in Font Book.
Resolves an issue for Microsoft Word in which OpenType Fonts may not display correctly; this update also addresses OpenType font issues using Word 2004.
Improves the reliability of OpenGL-accelerated graphics in Blizzard’s World of Warcraft.
Improves the reliability of OpenGL-based applications on Mac Pro computer with Nvidia graphics cards.
Includes updated security certificates.
Includes the Daylight Savings Time Update (released February 15, 2007) which contains the latest worldwide time zone and Daylight Saving Time (DST) rules as of January 8, 2007.
Resolves a toggling issue when zooming using the Command-Alt-8 key combination (Universal Access).
Resolves an issue in which some USB printers may stop printing in Classic.
Addresses an issue in Classic in which an iMac G5’s built-in iSight camera might stop responding.
Improves validation of disk images.
Includes improved support for USB devices in Classic.
Improves support for files with “.ac3”, “.m2v”, and “.m4v” filename extensions.
Improves performance when transferring from a P2 USB reader in the Finder.
Resolves an issue in which DVD player might not play a track that’s longer than 3 hours.
Addresses a display issue that could occur in chúng tôi running in 256-color mode on an Intel-based Mac.
Addresses EAP-FAST in PAC mode issue in a TLS session.
Addresses an issue in which incorrect encoding could be used for the files created by the “New Text File” Automator action on Intel-based Macs.
Includes recent Apple security updates.
Important: Information about products not manufactured by Apple is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute Apple’s recommendation or endorsement. Please contact the vendor for additional information.
Source: Apple: About the Mac OS X 10.4.9 update
When you first attach a hard drive to your Mac, it should automatically mount and be ready to use; however before relying on it, you should consider taking a couple of precautionary steps to ensure that the drive continues to work as expected.
Note: This guide is for those whose drive isn’t really working with their Mac, or those who want to set up their drive to work specifically work on OS X. By default, most drives should work with both Windows and OS X unless specified otherwise.)
By default, if you got a new external hard disk and you have not done anything to it, it will probably in the FAT32 format. This format will work fine on Mac, but it does have some limitations. For starters, FAT32 lacks journaling support which would help prevent data corruption, and lack of support for various filesystem permission. In addition, FAT32 drives usually come with the Master Boot Record partition scheme, which does not work with Apple’s CoreStorage routines, and therefore will not allow OS-supported encryption of the drive (among other customizations).
If your external hard drive is not working as expected, or you need it to be in Mac-specific format, here’s how to set up your hard drive for use with Mac OS X:
To begin, be sure to format your drive. To format the drive, attach the external hard drive to your system and open Disk Utility, and then perform the following steps:
1. Select your drive device in the list of devices in the left-hand pane, which is the item above any storage volumes on the drive, and which may show the manufacturer name, media size, and so on.
2. Choose the “Partition” tab the appears.
3. Select “1 Partition” from the drop-down menu (or more, if you have specific need for more than one volume). When you select a new partition layout from the drop-down menu, each new partition will automatically be formatted to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) by default, but be sure to double-check this by selecting each in the partition diagram and then choosing the format for it.
Once you have completed all the above steps, the drive should unmount and remount with the new formatting settings, and should now be ready for use. Generally a format of the drive in this manner is all that is needed; however, some people may wish to test drives further to make sure the media does not contain any bad blocks or other errors beyond the scope of the drive’s formatting.Testing out the newly formatted hard drive
Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier’s resident Mac tutorial writer. He’s currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube
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Mac users who have multiple user accounts on a single machine may sometimes wish to hide a specific user account from appearing on the login screens of OS X. This is fairly common for systems administrators who want to hide an admin account that can be used for direct or remote troubleshooting, but it can also be applicable to other users for a variety of reasons. By hiding an account this way, the account login still exists if it’s known and it can still be accessed from remote login and screen shares, but does not appear at the boot screens as a login option.
Note this method is geared towards hiding a specific user account from the login screen, applicable to Macs with multiple user accounts. If you simply want to not show all avatar icons at the boot login of OS X, you can hide all usernames from the login window with an OS X Preference setting, which will display a simple login form rather than any hint at what user accounts are on the Mac.
Targeting a specified user account to hide requires you to know the users account short name, and having some comfort with using the command line. To get started, launch the Terminal in OS X and have the account short name handy. The short name is almost always the same as the users home directory, the latter is what we’re actually using to hide and unhide the accounts.Hide a User Account from the Login Screen of Mac OS X
This works in OS X Yosemite (10.10 and newer). The general syntax to use to hide an account is as follows, replacing ACCOUNTNAME with the user home directory of the account to no longer display:
sudo dscl . create /Users/ACCOUNTNAME IsHidden 1
For example, to hide the user account “osxdaily” on a Mac with the given user directory being /Users/osxdaily, the syntax would be:
sudo dscl . create /Users/osxdaily IsHidden 1
On reboot you will notice the target account is no longer visible in the avatar list. The account will also become invisible to Fast User Switching menu and the general login and logout menu of OS X. Nonetheless, users who are aware of the account can continue to access it through SSH, screen sharing, remote login, or even the GUI login panels, assuming they know it exists.
Upon boot, this is the login screen that specified account would no longer appear at:
Note that you can actually go further and hide the entire user directory from being visible as well as the login name, which basically makes the entire user account invisible (yet still usable) to the Mac except by someone who either knows how to find it, or that it exists to begin with. We’ll cover that separately.Unhide the User Account from Login of OS X
Revealing the user account and going back to the default setting of displaying the specified user at login screens, windows, and the Fast User Account switching menu, is also quite simple. Simply replace the 1 with 0 and run the same command, again targeted at the user account short name / directory name.
sudo dscl . create /Users/ACCOUNTNAME IsHidden 0
As before, rebooting the Mac will reveal the specified account again at the login screen of OS X.
Aside from the obvious uses for a systems administrator, there are other practical uses for this too. Perhaps you want to avoid user confusion on a multi-user Mac, hide an admin account so that it’s not used, not show an infrequently used new user account that is for a particular purpose, maintain some privacy by not revealing a unique personal account, or maybe just not show a general guest account that remains active but not visible as it’s rarely needed. Whatever the desired intention or reason, this works quite well and can be reversed quickly if necessary.
There are a lot of features in OS X, so many in fact that some don’t get used that often, which is a shame because some of them are really very useful … if you know where to find them.
In this article, we will be going over some of the best productivity hacks with hidden, or at least not very obvious, features of OS X.1. Make custom keyboard shortcuts
We all know that the key to high productivity on the Mac is an awareness of the keyboard shortcuts for features we use often. It’s much harder and slower to hunt and peck with the mouse than it is to just bash a couple of keys.2. Full screen mode for focus
Since Mountain Lion, in many apps you have been able to go to full screen mode to fill your screen with the current app. This helps you to focus on the job at hand without being distracted by things on your desktop.
Simply press “Command-Control-F” to enter full screen mode. Press “ESC” to return to normal mode.3. Screen recording for tutorials 4. Purge memory
Have you ever wanted to reclaim memory which might be taking up space on your hard drive but you don’t want to restart? It happens that sometimes apps don’t release the RAM they were allocated when they don’t need it anymore, which is why your machine sometimes slows down after being logged in for a few weeks. (Do you reboot often? Most people don’t.) To fix this, you can close all your apps and use the following:
Open a terminal and type:purge
and any loose memory will be purged or returned to the main pool. Don’t worry this operation is very safe and will not kill anything.5. Finder labels for getting organised
A good way to give smart folders something to search for is to use Finder labels. Not only can you assign a colour code to folders or files, you can also name the categories and even search for them using smart folders. You can even add your own categories.6. Use the Option key to go to the Library
Bonus points: Explore using Automator to batch process files, rename, resize, and convert multiple files with a single action. We’ll be going into details about Automator in a forthcoming article, but for now try it out and see what it can do. You can find it hiding in plain sight in your Applications folder.
Phil South has been writing about tech subjects for over 30 years. Starting out with Your Sinclair magazine in the 80s, and then MacUser and Computer Shopper. He’s designed user interfaces for groundbreaking music software, been the technical editor on film making and visual effects books for Elsevier, and helped create the MTE YouTube Channel. He lives and works in South Wales, UK.
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Disk Utility is good at resolving minor errors that occur on Macintosh HD or other partitions. It is sad to admit if the Mac encounters ‘Invalid Node Structure’ error then DU won’t be of any help. This error itself is serious and will surely cause the hard drive to behave abruptly if not repaired timely. In short the corruption of Mac hard drive directory structure is called as Invalid Node Error.
You turn on your Mac only to find that it gets stuck on the Apple logo and won’t go any further. When you restart the system, you have problems with your Dashboard and a few applications start behaving oddly. If you find yourself bumped into a similar situation, you would certainly head for a repair using Disk Utility. It is no surprise that Disk Utility is the application of choice for most Mac users, as it can remedy disk corruption issues quite easily. However, it may not fix all errors in your directory structure. It can only make repairs that it has been programmed for.How to Fix “Invalid Node Structure” Error on Mac
You can use Disk Utility or any of the free tools out there in the market for the cloning job. The following procedure will guide you how to get your system back up and running after facing the ‘invalid node structure’ error:
Step #1. Download any of the free cloning software available on the web to perform reliable and risk-free cloning.
Step #2. Take a FireWire drive and connect it to your Mac. Use Disk Utility to create two partitions on this disk, and then zero out all data stored on it. You can create a bigger partition ‘A’ of size greater than that of your internal hard drive and a smaller partition ‘B’ (approx. 8 GB to accommodate a basic OS X package.)
Step #3. Perform basic OS X installation on partition ‘B’ and make sure you do not install any additional programs like iPhoto, iTunes, etc. You should try booting from your FireWire drive and make sure it works fine. Boot your Mac using the internal drive and run ‘Verify Disk’ function of Disk Utility to check the FireWire drive for errors. If it works as expected, proceed to the next step.
Step #4. Boot from the internal hard drive and use the free cloning program you downloaded to clone partition ‘B’ to partition ‘A’. You can boot from this partition and verify that it works fine. This is to be on a safe side and ensure that you have a working copy of OS X.
Step #5. Next, boot your Mac using partition ‘A’ and import every piece of useful information and programs from the internal Mac hard drive to this partition. This can be easily accomplished via Migration Assistant. The FireWire drive will show two users as administrators. You can use the user id that was on the internal drive. Migration Assistant may report some errors and state that some programs need to be reinstalled. You can skip them for now and perform these actions later. Once the Migration Assistant has finished importing, you will find all the migrated programs in a folder on your desktop. It is better off moving all these programs to the Applications folder created by the OS X installation because a few applications may throw errors when started from a location other than the Applications folder.
Step #6. Before proceeding further, you need to make sure all the programs you have migrated using Migration Assistant are working fine. To do so, you will have to invest some time running these programs one by one and checking if no errors are encountered. You might require installing updates to some applications. At the same time, you might receive errors stating that you cannot install updates on external disk. To do away with this, you simply run updates to OS X during the night hours.
Step #7. Next, you should ensure that you have everything backed up on the FireWire drive. Now, boot from partition ‘A’ and wipe your internal hard drive using Disk Utility. This would erase all data on your internal hard drive beyond the scope of recovery. For convenience, partition your internal hard drive as per your space requirements.
Step #8. Restart your Mac using partition ‘B’ and use the cloning tool to clone partition ‘A’ onto a bigger partition on your internal hard drive.
Now, you have prepared your internal hard drive with all the data and programs installed earlier. You can boot from this drive and check if problems persists. In case you encounter errors again, use commercial tools to perform data recovery on your Mac.
Mehak has a master’s degree in communication and over ten years of writing experience. Her passion for technology and Apple products led her to iGeeksBlog, where she specializes in writing product roundups and app recommendations for fellow Apple users. When not typing away on her MacBook Pro, she loves being lost in a book or out exploring the world.
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