Last time we learned how to list files, now let’s see where those files are.
All your files reside on your hard drive, either internal, external or SSD. These drives have files and folders scattered throughout the drive but most are in certain places and are required for the system to function. Moving or deleting certain files or folders can cause your system to malfunction or even not boot. Best practice is if you don’t know what it is, leave it.
You probably won’t have all the same folders as here. You will find however that you’re not seeing all the folders that are there. Some folders are hidden from Finder. Apple did this so users can not go into system folders without knowing what they are doing. It’s a safety measure. If you open Terminal and type
cd / ls -l
you will see all the folders at the root of the drive.
craig@zapper:/$ ls -l total 16141 drwxrwxr-x+ 99 root admin 3366 Oct 10 05:16 Applications drwxr-xr-x+ 69 root wheel 2346 Sep 13 08:37 Library drwxr-xr-x@ 2 root wheel 68 Aug 16 2012 Network drwxr-xr-x+ 4 root wheel 136 Mar 1 2013 System drwxr-xr-x 7 root admin 238 Mar 1 2013 Users drwxrwxrwt@ 3 root admin 102 Oct 14 04:47 Volumes drwxr-xr-x@ 39 root wheel 1326 Jun 15 07:15 bin drwxrwxr-t@ 2 root admin 68 Aug 16 2012 cores dr-xr-xr-x 3 root wheel 4318 Oct 14 04:43 dev lrwxr-xr-x@ 1 root wheel 11 Mar 1 2013 etc -> private/etc dr-xr-xr-x 2 root wheel 1 Oct 14 04:43 home dr-xr-xr-x 2 root wheel 1 Oct 14 04:43 net drwxr-xr-x 4 root wheel 136 Apr 14 2013 opt drwxr-xr-x@ 6 root wheel 204 Mar 1 2013 private drwxr-xr-x@ 62 root wheel 2108 Sep 13 08:37 sbin lrwxr-xr-x@ 1 root wheel 11 Mar 1 2013 tmp -> private/tmp drwxr-xr-x@ 13 root wheel 442 Apr 14 2013 usr lrwxr-xr-x@ 1 root wheel 11 Mar 1 2013 var -> private/var craig@zapper:/$
The first command cd / means change directory (cd) to the root of the drive (/). And of course ls -l gives a long list. You could have also done it like
ls -l /
Which is the same thing however you didn’t change to the root directory, you just listed it. / not only means the root but it also is the beginning of a path. If you know the path you can do all sorts of things without moving from where you are. If you are in root, to go back to your home directory you could type
Where yourname is your home directory name (usually your name). There are a couple of shortcuts which do the same thing (there usually are). For example typing cd ~ will take you back to your home directory. ~ is short for your home dir. Also just typing cd without anything else will take you home.
Now lets make some folders (directories). Make sure you’re in your home dir (cd ~). Now type:
Remember about shortening commands? mkdir is “makedirectory” without the vowels, and a couple of other letters. What you just did is make a directory named “test”. Now let’s go inside that directory. Type cd test. Do a list, (ls). Nothing there. Well not actually true. If you do a ls -la, you will see a dot and two more dots.
craig@zapper:~/test$ ls -la total 0 drwxr-xr-x 2 staff 68B Oct 14 16:12 ./ drwxr-xr-x+ 78 staff 2.6K Oct 14 16:12 ../ craig@zapper:~/test$
This is system shorthand for this directory (the dot) and the directory it’s in (dot dot). If you wanted to back out of this directory to your home dir you could type
This will take you back to the enclosing dir. Notice the space between cd and the dots. The only place this will not work is if you’re at the root of the drive. There is no enclosing dir, you will just stay in the same place. Now make sure you’re in test. We want to create a file here. There are several ways to create a file. You could use TextEdit or nano or one of several apps to create a file. However, for our purposes we want to create an empty file so just type
Among other things, touch will create an empty file with default permissions (in other words, you own it. We’ll get to permissions later). You just made a file named myfile. We did this so I could introduce another command, rm. rm is remove, and now we’re getting to the part where you can really get into trouble if you’re not careful. If you remove the wrong file or directory, bad things can happen. If you don’t know what something is, don’t mess with it. I can’t stress this strongly enough. We’re talking “Oh my, what happened?! Now I have to reinstall EVERYTHING!!!” kind of bad. Chances are, if you made it, you can delete it.
Back out of the test dir by “cd ..”. Do a list to make sure you’re in the right place. Now type
What did you get? test: is a directory
It’s still there. rm by itself won’t delete a directory, especially if it has something in it. Remember myfile? If you want to delete a directory and everything in it you need a switch. Type
rm -R test
In this particular case you could have used a lower case r also, either would work. It means recursive, or delete everything inside first, then delete the dir. “test” should now be gone.
Next we’ll learn about permissions and file attributes, or “Why cant I change that file?”.