I do not use the folders ~/{Downloads, Documents, Public} and so I remove them. But some Mac OS X process keeps recreating them.

How can I disable the creation of these folders permanently? What process(es) are creating them?

Note: I do download files, e.g. from Safari, but they then go to a different directory. Safari allows this to be customized, so why can't the default directory be erased?

Note: I have run a crontab to delete these folders on a routine basis, however this is not a satisfactory solution especially since it needs to be run by root or an administrator.

2 Answers 2


It's definitively not recommended to remove these directories because a lot of applications just assume they are there. But it's your computer of course, so you can do with it whatever you like.

Instead of hunting down all applications/processes which might recreate these folders you could change their properties to make them invisible in Finder and inaccessible for everything :

chflags hidden ~/{Downloads,Documents,Public}
chmod 000 ~/{Downloads,Documents,Public}
  • 1
    This suggestion still leaves the files visible to "ls" when working from the command line in an X window. I'd like to actually remove the directories and keep them from coming back. I don't mind if the directories are created when something needs to go in them; but e.g. I don't want to have Public/ under ~/ all the time when I never use it.
    – edgeloss
    Aug 24, 2013 at 16:24
  • 1
    I've also been looking for a way to accomplish this. I ended up using chflags and chmod as described previously. To stop "ls" from listing these folders I use the --ignore option: ls --ignore 'Desktop', etc.
    – user56920
    Sep 21, 2013 at 18:30

When you buy a certain thing, say, a Mac, you accept its parts to a large degree. We tweak and fiddle and adapt it to our wants, especially here - I'm just saying, there's a limit. Leave the folder structure alone, let OS X be OS X, especially in ways that don't really hamper your use of it at all.

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