Today I noticed that in the bottom bar of finder, where it shows my file path, it's showing all my files as being within MacintoshHD/System/Volumes/MacintoshHD:

I have this strange file structure in MacintoshHD:

I've also just noticed that I have a folder named "Desktop" on my Desktop:

I can't seem to open this folder, and it doesn't show up in the Terminal.

I have 10.15.1 on iMac 2017 4K.


After a restart this no longer happens

  • 1
    what version of the system software are you running and what computer are you using?
    – Natsfan
    Nov 26, 2019 at 2:19
  • @jmh 10.15.1, iMac 2017 4K
    – Tim
    Nov 26, 2019 at 8:56
  • @ankii I don’t remember doing anything recently but I’m pretty sure this is new. I did have to power off my external drives because they weren’t showing, but then when they came back on Finder complained about improperly ejecting.
    – Tim
    Nov 26, 2019 at 8:57
  • @Tim for macOS Catalina, grg's answer seems fit. I think you just didnt notice this after the update from mojave.
    – anki
    Nov 26, 2019 at 9:09
  • 1
    @ankii potentially, I’m surprised I didn’t in the last month... I think I have a screen recording which may feature this change from shortly after the update. I’ll have a look...
    – Tim
    Nov 26, 2019 at 9:22

2 Answers 2


macOS Catalina has a new feature to further isolate the OS from data. In the APFS container it is installed within, an APFS volume for the OS is created alongside an APFS volume for your data. The former is mounted read-only at the root of the filesystem, and the latter is mounted within /System/Volumes.

Directories containing writable data are linked from the read-only volume to the data volume, to form one apparent disk. The individual disks still appear separately if you open the mount point.


A Desktop folder on the desktop is a bug. The other screenshots show expected behaviour.

  • After a restart this stopped happening.
    – Tim
    Nov 26, 2019 at 9:46

It's just Mac's way of naming disks.

On a Linux machine it'd be named /mnt/hdd0, on your Mac it's named /Volumes/MacintoshHD.

On a Windows machine it'd be named C:\

Nothing special about it, just takes a little getting used to.

  • Notice the screen dump. The structure is different than earlier. Nov 26, 2019 at 6:18
  • jwenting That is not true for Mojave at least, and if memory serves, High Sierra either.
    – anki
    Nov 26, 2019 at 6:27

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