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What is the equivalent to System32 on a Mac? Where are the system files kept is what I am trying to get at, obviously , they exist, but does Apple choose to not make them accessible?

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Which "system files"? – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Mar 21 '12 at 23:51
The equivalent of System32, on a Mac – Billjk Mar 21 '12 at 23:52
Which particular kinds of things that you find under System32 are you looking for? Can you be any more specific than "System32"? The way you've asked your question, you've limited your potential respondents to people who are deeply familiar with both platforms. If you explained in general terms what it is in System32 that you care about, someone who is Mac-savvy but not as Windows-savvy could help you better. – Spiff Mar 21 '12 at 23:57
This question really needs expansion and clarification. The Mac /System folder is not really the equivalent of System32 on Windows. Maybe the closest would be the ~/Library folder... But even then, there isn't really a straight equivalent. The poster needs to explain what files he is looking for, for a better answer. – Benjamin Schollnick Mar 26 '12 at 18:23
up vote 6 down vote accepted

It's Unix, so everything that's not under a user's home directory (that is, somewhere under /Users/) is basically a system file. And I suppose you're not counting /Applications/ as system files.

You're probably mainly looking for /System/.

Here's a few more to look at:


The Finder hides a lot of these by default. Use the Terminal to get to them. Use open <path to some directory> to make the Finder open a window for that directory. See other Answers on this site and elsewhere for how to make the Finder show more stuff by default.

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There is no direct equivalent, but there are a few places that are kind of similar-ish:

/System/Library is kind of similar, though not exactly. Things like kernel extensions, core frameworks, and other tools live there.

/Library contains a bunch of system configuration stuff, and some support frameworks and other ephemera that contain binaries for some things.

/sbin, and /usr/sbin contain a bunch of the sysadmin focused binaries, and /bin and /usr/bin contain various other Unix binaries, many of which are involved in the "system32" equivalent side of things, and are not directly visible.

Without knowing exactly why you want to know this, it is hard to give a more exact answer.

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