I am running 2 OS flavors on my 2010 Macpro, 10.6.8 Snow Leopard on one startup drive and the latest Yosemite on another.

The Snow Leo drive contains a folder "private" that looked like it was 25GB but once opened and listing subfolders, dropped to under 2GB. What is the purpose of this folder? It doesn't seem to exist on the Yosemite drive at all. The drive is an SSD and anything I can do to keep it smaller would be great. This is the view of the whole drive -

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The folder is named private but it's visible, and at the top level of the drive folder system.

  • 2
    can you add the full path of this private folder?
    – nohillside
    Jun 7 '15 at 15:19
  • From the directory tree in the attached screen cap it looks like it is at the root of the drive as it is at the same level as the Users folder Jun 7 '15 at 16:13
  • I am asking if these files are all needed. Was this folder removed in OS updates, as it's not there in Yosemite drive. Jun 7 '15 at 16:16

Normally "private" is about 2-2.5GB, it contains "private" information for the OSX. You should not mess around in it. It also contains the "sleepimage" file which is the largest file of all in this folder. BTW: 10.5... is Leopard, 10.6 is SnowLeopard, I assume a typo.


All the files and folders within private are needed to run the Operating System and it exists in every version of OS X. The folder private has lost its hidden attribute.

  • You can view the (normally hidden) /private folder in any version of OS X in the Finder by choosing Go menu -> Go To Folder (shortcut: Command-Shift-G), then entering "/private" in the dialog that appears. Jun 7 '15 at 18:07

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