macOS has a deep and nested folder structure, and a standard macOS installation has many unfamiliar-sounding directories. Most users never need to touch these files.

Apple keeps certain folders hidden for a reason. Fiddling with these directories could result in system unstable, data loss, or worse – prevent your Mac from starting up. We'll show you the places that most users shouldn't be touching on the macOS file system.

1. Language files and folders

Mac apps come with language files for each supported language. If you change your Mac's system language, the app will immediately change to that language.

To view an app's language files, Ctrl-click it and select Show package contents from the context menu. The path looks like this:

View the package contents of an app

Removing the language files for third-party apps is easy via the terminal. But for the standard macOS apps, you'll need to turn off System Integrity Protection, which we don't recommend at all.

While there is a lot of advice on the internet recommending deleting language files to free up space, the amount of space you earn isn't significant enough for the risks involved.

A quick scan with CleanMyMac shows that deleting these files gives my Mac about 520MB of space. The outcome may be different in your case, but it is very unlikely that you will gain more than a few gigabytes. Also, you'll need to repeat these steps after every major macOS upgrade.

Fast scan with the cleanmymac app

If you remove voice files, you won't be able to predict which apps will crash or freeze. In the worst case, you will have to reinstall the app. In addition, old versions of programs such as Microsoft Office and Adobe apps may not work or update properly. Hence, it is best to ignore the language files and folders.

Check out our tips for freeing up space on your Mac for better ways to do it.

2. Hidden / private / var folder

macOS creates multiple users and system related cache files to speed up the system. The cache and temporary data are in / Library / Caches is under your control. You can manually clear this cache without any third-party tools.

However, the files in the system folder are fully managed by macOS. They are not even visible to you. Sometimes items in these directories can take up a lot of space. Hence, you may be wondering whether it is safe to read the contents of / private / var / folder or not.

Related: How to See Hidden Files on Your Mac

Location of / private / var / folders

The easiest way to get the. to find / private / var Folder is via the Finder Go to folder Menu. Press Command + Shift + G who raise Go to folder Box and enter / private / var / folder. A new Finder tab will open immediately.

To open the location of cached and temporary files in the system, start a terminal Window and type: open $ TMPDIR You will see a two-character folder name with long, seemingly random sub-folder names. Browse these three folders as you navigate through the folder structure. the C. Folder represents Cache, while T is for In the interim Files. user Files live in the 0 Folder.

Location of the private var folder

Problems with / private / var / folders

A quick scan with OmniDiskSweeper shows that the size of / private / var / folder is about 1GB and that of / private / var is about 4GB. The size of these folders can vary from system to system, but should not be too large.

If these directories occupy more than 10 GB, they are questionable.

Results from the Omnidisksweeper app

You shouldn't try to manually extract files from any of the / private / var Directories, even if they are large. This could damage core macOS files, corrupt document data, and prevent your Mac from booting or behaving as expected. You would then get stuck installing macOS from scratch.

To safely remove these files, quit all apps and shut down your Mac. When you restart your Mac, you trigger the built-in cache clearing mechanisms. This will delete unnecessary content, caches and temporary items in / tmp, / private / var, and / private / var / folder.

If for some reason these files are not deleted, restart your Mac in Safe Mode. macOS provides additional built-in mechanisms to remove caches and temporary files in this mode. Then boot into normal mode as usual and check your available space again.

Other important folders in / private / var

As for storage space, there are a few more folders that shouldn't be touched:

  • / private / var / db: Contains a number of macOS configuration and data files. This includes the Spotlight database, network configuration files, and more.
  • / private / var / VM: Contains swap and sleep image files. When you put your Mac to sleep, this directory takes up more than 5 GB of space.
  • / private / var / tmp: Another temporary directory.

3. System library folder

The macOS file system contains several library folders. This is by design, and while there are many similarities between the contents of library folders, each folder plays a different role in the macOS file system. You will find three library folders:

  • /Library
  • / System / library
  • ~ / Library

The main Library and System Library folders have a global scope. Your content supports every aspect of the system. The system library folder contains the files that macOS needs for operation. Only the operating system has the right to change its data, and only system-level events should affect it. There is no need for you to touch anything in this folder.

System library folder

4. User library folder

the library The folder in the home directory is your account's personal library. This is where macOS stores system, third-party, and settings files. It also includes mail settings, Safari bookmarks, browsing history data, calendar data, and much more. The library folder also contains folders that need to be cleaned occasionally. Not all folders are safe to touch, however.

~ / Library / application support

This is the folder in which both system and third-party apps store support files, usually in a subfolder named after the application in question. They contain registration data and even store saved app data that will be used in a specific session. Do not directly delete the contents of the Application Support files. Instead, use an app called AppCleaner to delete support files along with the app.

Support folder for library applications

~ / Library / Settings

This folder contains all settings data for standard and third-party apps. Again, do not delete the content of the settings Folder; Otherwise, an app will be reset to its default state or it may crash. AppCleaner takes care of the settings when you uninstall an app.

Library settings folder

~ / Library / Mobile Documents

This is the actual location of the iCloud folder. Documents, application settings files, iOS app data, and more can be found in this folder. You shouldn't move, rename, or delete it. It's also a folder that takes up a lot of storage space when you're using iCloud. Delete the files you don't need from iCloud Drive to reduce the size.

Library mobile document folder

~ / Library / container

This includes support files, cached data, and temporary files for apps you downloaded from the Mac App Store. Since apps in the App Store have a sandbox, they cannot write any data anywhere on the system. Do not delete the contents of this folder here either. If the Container folder is taking up a lot of space, reinstall the affected app.

Library container folder

5. Hidden folders in the home folder

hidden folders in the Finder

If you press the Command + Shift + Period Buttons in the Finder, you will see lots of files and folders in the home Directories that are normally not displayed. Various macOS technologies and apps store their data in these folders to keep your Mac running smoothly. You shouldn't change or delete any of these folders:

  • .Spotlight-V100: Spotlight metadata for each mounted volume. the mdworker Processes use this metadata to update Spotlight search.
  • .fseventsd: A log file of FSEvents obtained from the fseventsd launchdaemon Process. It monitors file system events like file creation, modification, deletion, and more. Time Machine uses this data to process backups in the background.
  • .DocumentRevisions-V100: A macOS version database used by apps to store and retrieve different versions of a document.
  • .PKInstallSandboxManager: Used for software updates and sandboxing.
  • .PKInstallSandboxManager-SystemSoftware: Used for system software updates.
  • .Waste paper bin: Trash folders in each mounted volume.

Avoid important macOS folders

These folders are risky to deal with as they could damage your apps, documents, and macOS. While most Mac users don't have to worry about these folders, you might be tempted to browse these folders if storage space becomes an issue.

In such cases, a backup is essential so that you can restore it relatively easily in the event of data loss. Fortunately, your Mac already has tons of ways to help you with this.

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About the author

Rahul Saigal
(162 published articles)

With an M.Optom degree in ophthalmology, Rahul taught for many years at the college. Writing and teaching others is always his passion. He's now writing about technology and making it digestible for readers who don't understand it well.

From Rahul Saigal

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