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I would like to know where is the folder of temporary files in system. For example, in Windows is the folder:

C:\Documents and Settings\Administrador\Configuración local\Temp

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launchd and some other daemons use /private/tmp/ and /var/tmp for temporary files and sockets. /tmp is a symlink to /private/tmp. – jaume Jun 26 '13 at 14:16
Thanks friend! What is the difference between /private/tmp and /var/tmp?? – Alberto Juarez Jun 26 '13 at 14:24
As a general rule, /tmp is wiped upon reboot, while /var/tmp is not. – jaume Jun 26 '13 at 14:39

OS X generates a programmatic directory stored in /private/var and defines the $TMPDIR environment variable for locating the system temporary folder.

Using, type echo $TMPDIR or open $TMPDIR (to open Finder on that folder).

There you will find temp files stored by the Applications running.


Since OS X is based on UNIX, there are several types of temporary directories, in addition the the "system" one where it stores things.

  • $TMPDIR which is generated like /var/folders/xl/84p38nhj405frmrkdpqb3v9c0000gn/T/
  • /private/tmp
  • /private/var/tmp
  • /private/var/at/tmp
  • /private/var/spool/cups/tmp
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Your question has a false premise that there IS a "temp" folder. This isn't Windows, and the Unix architecture of Mac OS X is entirely different. Temp folder for what? For some low level junk, there's /tmp and /var/tmp. For Application preferences there's ~/Library/Preferences, for Application caches and temp files, there's ~/Library/Application\ Support.

A clearer answer would be possible if you specified the particular task you're trying to accomplish.

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I think the OP is not trying to accomplish any task but rather wants to understand how OS X works. He's specifically asking for the equivalent of %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temp (%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Temp on Vista and newer), not %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Temporary Internet Files or the like. That's probably /tmp (symlink to /private/tmp) and /var/tmp, the difference being that /tmp gets wiped clean at startup. I wouldn't say ~/Library/Application Support and ~/Library/Preferences are temp folders as apps use them to save persistent data like state and settings. – jaume Jun 27 '13 at 10:02
Are you saying that there isn't a temp folder? Your answer would be refuted by this which also makes this question a duplicate. – Allan Mar 10 at 18:54
@Allan Did you at all read my post? – AMomchilov Mar 15 at 2:32

/tmp is the general location for temporary files in Mac OS X, as well as most UNIX-like systems.

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There is also $TMPDIR. – lhf Jun 26 '13 at 16:03
$TMPDIR is an environment variable that points to a temporary directory like /tmp, not a temporary directory itself. You can set $TMPDIR to any value you want (and it will work as long as the directory exists and has the sticky bit set). – jaume Jun 27 '13 at 10:21

The temporary directory for user specific temp files is given by the environment variable TMPDIR. This is under /var/tmp On my Yosemite login it is TMPDIR=/var/folders/11/d839g3h52m55ps0l8f621b8m0000gp/T/

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