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Mac OS X Disk Organization

Like most other computer operating systems, Mac OS X uses a hierarchical filing system (HFS) to organize and store files, including system files, applications, and documents.

The top level of the filing system is the computer level, which corresponds to the top section of the Sidebar ( Figure 1 ). This level shows the computer's internal hard disk, any other disks the computer has access to (including iDisk, if you are a .Mac member), and the Network icon.


Figure 1 The top level of your computer shows all mounted disks and a Network icon.

The next level down is the computer's hard disk level. You can view this level by clicking the name of your hard disk in the Sidebar ( Figure 1 ) or on the desktop. While the contents of your hard disk may differ from what's shown in Figure 2 , some elements should be the same:

  • Applications contains Mac OS X applications.
  • System and Library contain the Mac OS X system files.
  • Users (Figure 3) contains individual folders for each of the computer's users, as well as a Shared folder.

Figure 2 A typical hard disk window might look like this.


Figure 3 The Users folder contains a home folder for each user, as well as a Shared folder.

The following folders may also appear if you upgraded to Mac OS X from Mac OS 9.x or if you installed Mac OS 9.x on your computer after installing Mac OS X:

  • Applications (Mac OS 9) contains applications that run under the Classic environment.
  • System Folder contains the Mac OS 9.x system files for running the Classic environment.
  • Documents contains documents you saved on your hard disk before upgrading to Mac OS X.
  • Desktop (Mac OS 9) contains items that appear on the desktop when you start your computer with Mac OS 9.x.

By default, a Mac OS X hard disk is organized for multiple users. Each user has his or her own "home" folder, which is stored in the Users folder ( Figure 3 ). You can view the items inside your home folder by opening the house icon with your name on it on the Sidebar or inside the Users folder ( Figure 3 ). Your home folder is preconfigured with folders for all kinds of items you may want to store on disk ( Figure 4 ).


Figure 4 Your home folder is preconfigured with folders for storing a variety of item types.

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