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I am used to Windows because I simply go to computer and can click my partition and see my entire file structure right there. I can go to users, and then view my documents, and I also have the handy address bar in an explorer window. I just got OS X and I can't figure out how to navigate the file system, and I never know where I am in the file system. Can anyone give me tips on these two problems?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can drag the home and root folders to the sidebar. They used to be there by default, but they were removed in 10.7.

I have also removed all of the default locations, so the root folder of column view windows is always ~/ or /.

⇧⌘G opens a Go to Folder sheet. It can also be opened by pressing ~ or / in file dialogs.

You can show the path at the bottom by checking View > Show Path Bar:

There is also a hidden preference for showing the path on the title bar:

defaults write com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool true
killall Finder
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View->Show Path is probably the best to enable to not getting lost in the filesystem. – patrix Dec 15 '12 at 9:56

How to Navigate MacBook (Yosemite) File System: Specifically: Click into "Finder" and select Preferences, and turn them all on, so everything shows. Make sure to click-on "MacHD" or "HD" for the "HardDisk". Then you will get a little HardDisk icon on your desktop. Click on that to see the file-system (I have "Yosemite" version on this MacBook...)

On the window-panel that opens of the "Macintosh HD", click the goofy little box at the top that shows a glyph of a bunch of horizontal lines. That will give a sane and actionable display of your file system.

You should see a sub-dir called: "users". That will have a sub-dir which should correspond to your user-name, and have your user-specifc stuff in it.

How to Rename a Directory: Now, if you navigate thru the sub-dirs and files, you will notice that you cannot rename a directory. Silly, but it actuall is possible. You have to double-click (on the weird flat-panel press-plate, you press two fingers down together...). This opens a big panel of stuff, and what you want is "Get Info". Click on this, and you finally get a sane panel, on screen left, with useful, actionable information. One of the things you can see, is a text-box with the sub-directory name in it. There, you can rename the directory by just keying in a new name.

Another Idea to Consider: VirtualBox or a proper Linux O/S... This particular Macbook OS is a frustrating experience for many people. I have to go to terminal mode to do anything with the file system. (( I had written an abusive rant here, but I removed it. )) The entire graphical UI on top of the unix-style underlying software (that actually is not bad), is almost toxic. I don't recommend wiping the MacBook default O/S, unless you are comfortable installing O/S software on the bare metal. But you might consider something like Ubuntu, or CentOS Linux. The other thing you might do, which I have done in frustration, and disgust, is to install and configure VirtualBox, and install several instances of old Windows-XP, so I could at least get some work done. I am completely serious. This has worked way better than I expected. It is a bit of work, but it is possible to make it work very well.

The "Finder" thing just a really bad idea. The MacBook Pro hardware is very good, but the software is annoying and frustrating. But this is the trend now, what with government entities demanding "backdoor" access so they can monitor and track computer users, and companies hiding most of their special "features" so they can capture revenue streams from "apps" that make the technology usable. It will only get worse. Try to take time to learn Linux/Unix. Buy an old P/C, wipe the hard-disk, and install some kind of Linux. Then, you will understand what the awful MacBook O/S is built on top of. The old underlying NeXT (Unix-style) software architecture is very good. What is sad is how Apple is hiding this from folks with an annoyingly cryptic and complex graphical user interface. Best of luck.

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