Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My question is as title stated.

Why mac osx user directory located at /Users, but not /home?
Because /home is the default directory of user's home of Unix and Linux.

share|improve this question
Is your question just out of interest, or do you have a particular problem with how the home directories are laid out? – Gerry May 7 '12 at 8:51
Just out of my interest. – Magic May 7 '12 at 10:45
/home is really just a Linux thing, not Unix. – Paul R Jun 18 '12 at 10:54
@guys said about "Linux thing". Not only Linux but BSD and Minix too. Thus all major Unices use /home dir. – user2422869 Jul 1 '14 at 11:24

While we can only guess on Apple's motivations for certain decisions, the most obvious explanation would be that a "Users" folder has existed since Mac OS 9, before it was a Unix system, and Apple chose to stick with something familiar to their users. The same goes for other already familiar folders like "Applications".

This effectively translates in two different parts of the filesystem, where the not-so-user-friendly Unix hierarchy is hidden from the GUI, and a more friendly folder hierarchy is added on top of that and is exposed in the GUI.

There also is a clear difference in the style of directory names between the visible and invisible part. The invisible part uses all lowercase words as per convention in *nix filesystems, while the exposed part of the filesystem will uppercase the first letter of each word in a folder name.

share|improve this answer
And it honestly doesn't matter because ~user expands to $HOME irregardless of the physical directory structure. And any software relying on /home isn't portable anyway... – patrix May 7 '12 at 8:52

No /home/ is the default on Linux but this is not a standard. See for a list of default home directories.

share|improve this answer

/Users originated in NeXTSTEP/OpenStep, the ancestor of Mac OS X. /home is really just a Unix tradition and in no way necessary. You don't even need to have all home directories in the same containing directory. If you used Unix when HDDs were much smaller you might have seen something like /u0/user1, /u0/user2, /u1/user3….

share|improve this answer
/home is not a Unix tradition. It's Linux. – Matteo May 30 '13 at 20:23
Unix tradition is /usr more than /home – Mark May 30 '13 at 20:28
If you used Unix with NFS you used the automounter to make everybody appear to be under /home. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen May 30 '13 at 22:04

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.