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Safely rename various system folders System
Mac OS X's rigid folder structure doesn't allow you rename folders like Applications, Library, Users, System, etc. However, you can take advantage of Mac OS X 10.2's file system localization feature to change how these folders are displayed -- even in English.

Using your text editor of choice, edit this strings file: System -> Library -> CoreServices -> SystemFolderLocalizations -> en.lproj -> SystemFolderLocalizations.strings. If you use Mac OS X in a language other than English, edit the file in the directory for your language.

Suppose you want to rename Library to Stuff. You'll want to change this line:
"Library" = "Library";
to read
"Library" = "Stuff";
At the top level, you may rename System, Applications, Library, Users, Shared, and Utilities. In your home directory, you can rename Desktop, Documents, Movies, Music, Pictures, Public, Sites, and Drop Box. Log out and log back in and you should see the directories renamed. This change does not actually rename anything in the file structure, so if you browse your files in the Terminal you won't see any changes (and software which expects certain names will continue to work).

Note: In my experience on 10.2.1, the Finder localizes the top-level folders but not folders in home directories. Comment on your experiences.

[Editor's note: As this file is owned by the system, you'll either need to edit it in the terminal with root privileges, or use the Get Info window to temporarily change ownership of the "en.lproj" folder to yourself, edit the file in the Finder and accept the overwrite warning when you try to save, and the change the directory ownership back to system.]
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Safely rename various system folders | 18 comments | Create New Account
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Yes, home is localizeable
Authored by: Jon on Sep 26, '02 11:04:02AM

Yes, even the user folders is localized– but not if you kept them from systems prior to Jaguar.
It seems to me folders installed by Jaguar – i contrast to earlier OS X systems – has a special feature that makes localisation possible.
So if you made the choice to keep your old folder (instead of archiving it and create a new one) when you installed Jaguar, you have to change the folders in your home directory by creating a new temporary user, change the owner of that users folder and use them to replace the ones in your old user folder.
This applies only to the folders directly under the user folder. Deeper down the folders is not localized (and that's not very necessary)

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Yes, home is localizeable
Authored by: bluehz on Sep 26, '02 12:25:12PM

Heck - its hard enough to get Adobe installers to install without crappig out because it can't find something in this "rigid" file structure. IMHO - I personally think this is a VERY BAD IDEA - renaming the System Files/Folders. At least for the avg to moderate OS X user. At the very least - decide if your needs for renaming are greater than the possibility of grief in the future. I mean renaming for renaming's sake is asking for trouble.

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Yes, home is localizeable
Authored by: Jon on Sep 26, '02 01:12:14PM
I have nothing to say about Bluehz comment when it comes to english-speaking users.
But as a non-english user (Swedish) I discovered this when I had realized that my home folder still had english names on it's enclosed folders - while a 100 % clean installation would have made them show up with Sedish names (or whatever language I would have choosen as the first one).
Now the point with this feature is that the computer "itself" (the system, installers etc.) will still read the "real" original names. The localized names is displayed for the human user only (that is, if a non-english language is choosen as the first one or the english language file is hacked).
I really appreciate that the everyday workspace (not the deep levels) in the Finder now is fully internationalized. Prior to Jaguar, my Finder was a mess of English and Swedish names. Not only that every application and preinstalled folder was in English (now also applications are localized when appropriate), but folders could have an English name in the Finder fileviews and at the same time localized names in the toolbar. That was confusing and quite uncomfortable.

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Authored by: mervTormel on Sep 26, '02 01:23:49PM

got to agree with bluehz here. this is a bad idea. in fact, unix is so "name" oriented, renaming anything is folly. and constitutes no real work.

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This is NOT renaming...
Authored by: robg on Sep 26, '02 01:53:09PM

Please re-read the hint; nothing is getting renamed! The file system stills thinks everyhting is named as is. This will have no impact on anything which requires a name. Only the user will see it has having a new name.

This method is MUCH safer than actually renaming the files, or using symlinks. It's the way Apple designed it to be done for foreign languages; the only trick here is that it's being done in the same language!


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Authored by: Rosyna on Sep 26, '02 02:10:17PM

This is not renaming. It's just showing a different display name. If you turn on "Always show file extensions" the original (and real name) will return.

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Authored by: Glanz on Sep 26, '02 06:08:32PM

Be very careful with this!!!!! Installations depend on "named" directories, and to reset paths system-wide to accomodate newly named directories, will eventually become so head-breaking, that I would not recommend it. I have done this in Mandrake, in Lycoris, in RedHat, in Debian and other *nix-type thingies! Let well enough alone is my advice!

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Authored by: GaelicWizard on Sep 26, '02 07:24:40PM

You are the third person to make this STUPID COMMENT. READ THE F*CKING HINT!!!!!!!!!!! Only the VISUAL name displayed by the finder (or other GUI apps) is changed, the file/folder still has the same name, YOU (the USER, not the SYSTEM) JUST CAN'T SEE IT!!!

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Authored by: WillyT on Sep 27, '02 07:57:50AM

Thats exactly where the madness comes in! I want to see the real name so if I script it or use the terminal then things make sense. If the Finder shows a different name than the terminal I'll be completely lost and confused. Start banging my head on the wall. And go Linux.

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Re: Renaming
Authored by: Drogoul on Sep 27, '02 09:41:27AM

Yep. I understand. But I would not put a Linux box in the hands of my -- french-speaking -- son. That's probably the biggest difference between Linux and OSX. Ease of use for anyone + state of the art UNIX (with NO localizations/modifications) for the geeks on one and the same machine (just create two accounts).


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Authored by: Rosyna on Sep 27, '02 09:56:18AM

So turn on "Always show file extensions" in the finder, and it will always show the real name, even for folders modified with this hint.

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Authored by: mikechoc on Jun 11, '07 06:37:02AM

as a new mini owner [former winxp user]; i find it impoossible to easily
rename a file folder??? -i can rename a file by using 'save as' and another
name but folders??? help

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How to localize an old home folder
Authored by: fortun on Sep 26, '02 04:16:12PM

For a folder to be localized by the finder, it must contain a file called ".localized" (without the double quotes).

If you are familiar with the terminal, you can create this file by typing:
touch .localized

... in the folder that you want to see localized. So, if you are in your home folder, type this sequence to localize all the folders:

touch Desktop/.localized
touch Documents/.localized
touch Library/.localized
touch Movies/.localized
touch Music/.localized
touch Pictures/.localized
touch Public/.localized
touch Sites/.localized

Then, log out and log in again.

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How to localize an old home folder
Authored by: DEMON on Dec 23, '09 04:31:35PM

Thank you fortun. You saved my day :) After installation of Snow Leopard and restoring my Home from Time Machine, everything was in English. Thanks to your comment I was saved of a manual reinstall.

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This way lies madness!
Authored by: WillyT on Sep 26, '02 07:15:15PM

I accept that the finder hides the .app extension from me. The way .apps are put together is elegant in my opinion.
I accept that some files are hidden. This greatly reduces clutter.
I like extensions on files. Its a human readable way to tell what kind of file I'm dealing with. I can turn these on in the finder.

I DO NOT WANT THE FINDER TO LIE TO ME. Hide some info, ok. Oh, yes I can turn this off.

How long till this can't be turned off? How long till the is gone?
How long till OS X is just like OS 9? Yes I used OS 9 for several months till 10.0 came out. It was maddening sometimes. Trying to use the machine the "way" it was supposed to be used. (I am not a PC junkie nor did I used to use UNIX. I am an Intuition type of quy)

If you use this "feature" good luck!

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This way lies madness!
Authored by: Han Solo on Sep 26, '02 08:45:18PM


As several people noted above, this only changes what is "seen" at the human interface level. It has no effect on the operating system level. The logic is the same as customizing an icon.

The deeper issue is whether this is "a good thing."(TM) For those people who used the Macintosh prior to OS X, the ease of personalization of the interface was a key attraction of the Mac. You didn't need to conform to some (seemingly) arcane computer standards -- the computer conformed to your standards! (Or lack of standards, which was equally fine.)

Why so many "old Mac-hands" are dissatisfied with Mac OS X at the interface level (regardless of how much they might like other attributes) is that much of the pre-Mac OS X personalization is not available -- or even possible -- in Mac OS X. There are pros and cons to this change, but that's not the point. Rather, with this particular hint all the advantages of the system-level file organization are retained, but those who *choose* to do so can regain a little of what made the Mac great for them. How this could possibly be misconstrued as "madness" is beyond me. Mac OS X allows those who want a bare-bones, straight-forward, Un*x-inspired interface to have one, and those who prefer the "guts" of the computer to be (more or less) hidden away can be satisfied (mostly) as well.

And the terminal isn't going anywhere: Apple's market position depends too much on the ability to use OS X as any other Unix. However, just as no one is forced to rename their folders, no one is forced to use the terminal. (This should be ever more true as OS X matures. Although the terminal sure makes life easier at times.) The best of both worlds for all sorts of users, no?

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Using localized names is not a
Authored by: Drogoul on Sep 27, '02 05:06:13AM

My native language is French. One of the things that annoyed me in MacOS X before 10.2 was the lack of localization for most of the names displayed in the Finder. Having a 10 years old boy playing sometimes with my computer, I had to tell him, for instance, that "Address Book" translated to "Carnet d'adresses", or that, to find something in the "Bureau", he had to hit the icon named "Desktop". Very intuitive.
Of course, there were pros and cons with respect to full localization : remember the mess it was sometimes in OS 9 when you had two extensions loading at the same time, one called "QuickTime extension" and the other one "Extension QuickTime" ?
In 10.2, Apple made the good choice : adding the "human readable" name of files to the localized resources (either in app bundles or hidden property lists). This way, I can launch the address book by double-clicking on "Carnet d'adresses" (while observing in a log that "Address Book" is being lauched by the Finder). This is the same as changing the icon : it does not change the behaviour of the file, just changes what is being displayed on the UI (BTW, it is a fairly common principle to observe in UI design : always separate the model -- in that case, the actual file --, from the view -- the way it is displayed, be it iconic, textual, or anything you want).
The hint submitted here just extends this logic, is absolutely harmless and can be potentially useful when the localization is not as good as it should be. For example, I always preferred the word "Rpertoire" to "Carnet d'Adresses" and have already changed it.

To all of you who felt paranoid about this hint, please understand that offering this kind of possibility is precisely what modern OSes/UI are for - having MacOS X allowing this is a sign of maturity, not a sign of regression. And don't forget that half of the Macintoshes sold each year are sold to non-english speaking people: English has now to be considered as one of the possible localizations for files and folders names.


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Using localized names is not *censored*
Authored by: Rosyna on Sep 27, '02 09:58:26AM

If OS X was modern, instead of super modern, it wouldn't matter what the name of the file is.

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