As many users know, the Library folder located within a User's Home directory is hidden in recent versions of macOS. And, to make this visible, the user can hold down the Option key while accessing the Go menu from within the Finder.

In terms of Time Machine backups, the same Library folder is also hidden from view. Users can make these visible within the Finder by making 'hidden' files visible and navigating around their Time Machine backups.

However, what I am looking for is a way to make this same folder (i.e. the user's home 'library') on Time Machine backups visible to 3rd party applications.

By way of example, let's say I wanted to use data recovery software to import an old iOS iTunes backup located within a Time Machine backup, how would I do this?

Making the folder visible within the Finder does not help, although I could then manually copy it from the TM backup drive onto another disk and import it from there, but I'm looking for a more convenient/elegant solution if one exists?

  • 1
    Data recovery software that cannot read hidden directories is pretty useless. I realize that's an example, but I'm trying to think of a situation where a piece of software that would need access to a directory like that wouldn't take hidden directories into account. (I also didn't realize it was now locked down to the point where it requires a modified click on Go for Go to even let you type in the path yourself...)
    – tubedogg
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 3:59
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    Yes, Apple has really locked things down now, although I guess I can understand why. Your comment has got me thinking that maybe this isn't possible since Apple may not have envisioned users wanting to do this manually from 3rd party software, and the numbers of users who may want to would probably be very small. It just so happens I know of one.
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 11:43
  • I have Wondershare Dr. Fone for iOS and it can recover data from iTunes backup files. The software also allows me to manually pick the backup file I want to use. But I can't select any that are in my Time Machine backups because the User's library folder is not visible in the app. Did you ever find a way around this or do I have to manually copy the entire backup to another location?
    – user205310
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 2:00
  • Sorry, for some reason I've only just been notified of your comment, but I see its dated over two months ago! :( Unfortunately, no, I haven't. But perhaps the answer from @Tetsujin may be helpful as it directly refers to where iOS backups are located within TM backups.
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 0:13

1 Answer 1


As the latest backup is always going to be in the same place, then it's going to be the same path as ~/Library, plus the TM path.

Regular path is ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync
or longhand Volumes/[boot drive]/Users/[user name]/Library/Application Support/MobileSync
so in Time Machine it will be
Volumes/[TM drive]/Backups.backupdb/[mac name]/Latest/[boot drive]/Users/[user name]/Library/Application Support/MobileSync

Your larger problem may be that the folders in there have special permissions rwx------ & you cannot get any further than Library using Go to Folder... from the Go menu.

  • Thanks for that! The iOS iTunes backup was just an example and I knew the path. However, I hadn't even considered that permissions may be an issue, namely because in my scenario the user who created the TM drive/backup is the same user who wants to access their 'Library' folder from 3rd party apps and not from the Finder or via TM. I'll look into this and see what I can find.
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 10:30

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