How to view the content of Root directory in Mac OS X

By default Mac doesn’t show you the Root directory in Finder or Desktop. In this guide, I will show you how to access the root directory in Mac, there are several ways to do it. I will also tell you how to see the hidden directories in root directory.

Method 1: Show Macintosh HD in Finder and Desktop

In Mac, the root directory can also be referred as Macintosh HD as this will show you the root directory files and folders. By default you won’t find it in Finder and desktop as most of the users do not need to access the system files and folders. However you can change the settings in Finder Preferences to show it in Finder sidebar and as an icon on desktop.

To do this: Open Finder, go to Finder Preferences from the top finder menu and check the Hard disks option in General tab. This will show the Mac HD on Desktop.

To show the Mac HD in Finder sidebar: Open Finder, go to Finder Preferences from the top finder menu and go to Sidebar tab then check the Hard disks sub option listed under Devices. This will make the Macintosh Hd visible in finder sidebar.

Hidden Files In Mac Root Directory

Note: Refer this guide to read this in detail along with the screenshots: Show Mac HD in Finder and Desktop.

Method 2: Go To Folder option in Finder

You may not know this but there is a Go to Folder option in Finder that opens up a dialog where you can type the path and it would open up the content of given path in Finder.
You can use this option to open the root directory, all you have to do this is type the / in path field and click Go.

To open this, Open Finder, in the finder menu under Go tab select Go to Folder.
Finder GoToFolder Menu

This will open up this dialog box. Type / and hit Go.
Root Directory GoToFolder Dialog

Method 3: Using command line

You can also access the root directory from command line. To do this: Open terminal: Press Command + Space, type terminal and hit return.

Type the following command in terminal and hit return

open /

Note: There is a space between open and /.
command line root access

Show hidden files and sub directories in root directory

By default the root directory will not show you the directories like /usr, /bin, /etc etc. To make them visible you need to show the hidden files.

Open terminal and type the following command and hit return.

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -bool TRUE;killall Finder

Refer this guide to read about it in detail: Show/hide hidden files in Mac