I am somewhat picky about my filesystem structures. I really, really dislike directories with capital letters.

I'm more used to Windows where there are a lot of "special" folders in the home directory where care must be taken when renaming folders.

I'm currently using Lion and trying to force myself to use OS X more often.

I would like to know if its safe to just rename the directories, e.g. Documents, Downloads, Public, Sites. Will the OS know where to look for the new directories? If not, is there a recommended way to do this?

  • 2
    Is this due to a command line preference or just because?
    – bringel
    Jul 22 '11 at 19:43
  • In part, yes... Dec 2 '11 at 22:43

As far as OS X is concerned, this is acceptable IF you have selected a non-case sensitive filesystem.

Lion Filesystem Format Options

The non-case sensitive filesystem is the default, so unless you selected case sensitivity during installation of your operating system (or in Lion's most likely case, your previous operating system), you should be fine.

When selecting file system case sensitivity (or not), it should also be known that while the operating system itself will be okay with this, certain applications may not. There are problems using nearly all of Adobe's applications on a case sensitive file system. At the time of this answer, the Adobe Knowledge Base article regarding this issue was last updated roughly 9 months ago (2010-11-03) and this is still the case. Adobe's only answer to the problem was, and remains, to not use case sensitivity.

It is possible that other software also suffers from this issue, or may suffer from similar issues if a case sensitive filesystem is used.


Before I answer this, a caveat: I have not tested this, just answering with logic.

If you have formatted the drive using the default Format Mac OS Extended (Journaled) (not case-sensitive) you should be able to rename the directories and it will not matter to the operating system. You can use Disk Utility in the /Applications/Utilities folder to check the format if you are unsure.

A final note: I think you might want to check with your local medical practitioner to see if you have OCD. ;-)

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