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I just noticed on my Mavericks' Finder today that there are two different Applications folders. One located under Main HD:

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And the other one at Main HD -> Users -> Amit:

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What's the difference between the two and why is one full while the other empty? Also, I did notice that my Main HD no longer shows the Users folder even though it's there. The Users folder wasn't always invisible. While it's no big deal, I am really curious as to why it would suddenly go undercover without me doing anything to it!

4 Answers 4

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  1. The Application folder inside your home folder is for apps which are restricted to your user. So some applications choose to "install" or copy their application in this folder. It's based on the decision of the app creator. But most of the apps are installed in the /Applications folder.
  2. Apple decided to hide the /Users folder. That's it.

With this command:

sudo chflags nohidden /Users

unhides it.

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  • Thanks for the straightforward clarification. I am still however confused as to what made Mac suddenly decide to hide the Users folder on its own? It used to be visible until a couple of days ago. Like I said, it's no big deal that it's hidden but I am more curious to know what triggered it is all.
    – TheLearner
    May 16, 2014 at 18:39
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    @2DD8847 this is a good answer, but the folder isn't hidden (as, for example, the ~/Library folder is). It's just not readily viewable through the default finder pane.
    – njboot
    May 16, 2014 at 19:04
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As to what made Apple (rather than "Mac," Apple is the company, Mac the product) make the /Users folder invisible?

Probably the same reason they made the ~/Library folder invisible. they (likely) thought that you don't need access to it, only your own home folder.

And for "power users" who want or need access, it is easy enough to fix as shown above.

Some people upgraded to the new Mavericks 10.9.3 and their /Users folder was not hidden. So there may be a bug somewhere. Whether it is hiding the /Users folder or not hiding it remains to be seen in any following updates.

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  • Still doesn't make sense because like I already said, it wasn't always hidden. The Library folder, for example, has always been hidden and I know how to bring it back. But the User folder had ALWAYS been visible like other folders (at least since my Snow Leopard days). It's only for the past couple of days that it has gone invisible. So I don't think it's hidden for the same reason as Library is.
    – TheLearner
    May 16, 2014 at 21:05
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    If you did the Mavericks update yesterday or today (to Mac O/S 10.9.3) then that is the reason. If you didn't, then (for a start) run disk utility and repair permissions. May 16, 2014 at 21:14
  • Well I already have it back...making it visible again was never an issue and it was a simple Terminal command. So, no need for any permission repair. My question was more about why it went into hiding in the first place if it wasn't hidden to begin with. Why now? Your comment about Mavericks "might" explain it because I did make an upgrade yesterday. I am still not sure if the upgrade is the reason but since the coincidence is there, and there's no better explanation available, I am accepting your answer.
    – TheLearner
    May 16, 2014 at 21:21
  • It seems that it was NOT the Mavericks update. It is a combination of the new iTunes update AND having Back To The Mac enabled. This was one of the stranger Mac bugs (not yet squashed) May 17, 2014 at 1:11
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Ok, the mystery of the missing Users folder is finally solved. Like I had said in my question, it wasn't always hidden and went undercover only recently of its own accord. Steve Chamber's answer that this has something to do with upgrade to 10.9.3 is also only partially correct. Since none of the respondents have given an accurate explanation and I just discovered the answer elsewhere, I am posting my findings for others to benefit.

The folder has gone into hiding only for those who have upgraded to iTunes 11.2 and have their "Find My Mac" turned on. Not sure why but this is the only user group that has been affected, me being one of them. Also, the solution provided by 2DD8847 is not permanent as changing the flag to no hidden from the command line will only bring back the folder for the prevailing session. Reboot your Mac and it will be gone again!

A more permanent solution involves using AppleScript and is given here.

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I had the same issue, the only explanation i can guess that , the reason it went hidden as an impact from a Spyware script that was installed with an infected dmg file of one of the software downloaded recently from cNet

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    As noted in Amit's answer, this was a bug introduced when the user had Find My Mac enabled and upgraded to iTunes 11.2. It is not the result of spyware, and the user never stated they downloaded anything from CNet.
    – tubedogg
    Oct 30, 2014 at 18:16

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