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In a terminal, ls -al, lists the complete folder contents of the home folder. Among the folders, there are Downloads and Documents. Both have the exact same access rights set.

Now when I open the home folder in Finder. The Documents folder is missing. Why?

Screenshot of the Home folder showing the Applications and Downloads folder but no Documents folder

The output of ls -al for the home folder:

drwxr-xr-x@  3 christian  staff   96B Dec 19 14:17 Applications
drwx------@  4 christian  staff  128B Dec 21 09:57 Desktop
drwx------@  8 christian  staff  256B Dec 21 09:57 Documents
drwx------@  8 christian  staff  256B Dec 21 10:01 Downloads
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    Does ls -lOd ~/Documents show a hidden flag? If so try chflags nohidden ~/Documents. Dec 21, 2022 at 16:29
  • Do you have iCloud switched on? If so, then Documents and Desktop (also missing in your screenshots) will be in a separate grouping in Finder. You could look and see if enabled in the Finder settings | Sidebar (this may also be why they're missing even if you don't use iCloud, but I can't double check at the moment...). Also, check your iCloud Drive sync settings, as there's a specific Desktop & Documents option there that determines if they sync. Dec 21, 2022 at 18:59
  • @DavidAnderson: there is no hidden flag
    – Christian
    Jan 12, 2023 at 17:04
  • @AndyGriffiths: iCloud is switched on. Either way, I want to see the content of the folder when I have it open - period. I feel like any OS should have that option readily available. If it doesn't, then that OS is obviously not designed for power users / developers etc. (sorry, bit frustrated with the many shortcomings of OSX)
    – Christian
    Jan 12, 2023 at 17:08
  • You are being unnecessarily frustrated, though most power users would argue the weapon of choice is the command line, not UI ;-) See my answer. Jan 13, 2023 at 18:15

1 Answer 1

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The folders are hidden by default (and design) when viewing the contents of your user folder in Finder, and by mechanisms other than the standard flags, (possibly when iCloud is enabled, but I can't test at present, and discussions as to Apple's motives are OT).

If you use ls -l@ad ~/Documents in Terminal, however you will see iCloud specific extended attributes that no-doubt instruct Finder to perform some special behaviour for the Folder to hide it. There will be a comparable structure in ~/Library also which enables the iCloud replication to work. Of course, this applies to ~/Desktop also. That is the limit of my knowledge unfortunately.

% ls -l@ad ~/Documents
drwx------@ 268 USER  staff  8576 11 Jan 14:59 /Users/USER/Documents
    com.apple.icloud.desktop       9 
    com.apple.macl    72 
    com.apple.metadata:_kMDItemUserTags   42

However, the hidden folders can be shown in Finder using Cmd-Shift-Period. This also reveals all the other hidden folders that other software uses to store settings, caches etc...

To show the iCloud folders in the Finder sidebar, enable in the Finder settings | Sidebar.

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