Last updated 2023-02-10
Directories are just folders; we’ll use the terms interchangeably. All of the files on your computer are organized around folders. In some respects, this means that your computer is synonymous with a filing cabinet; you open it up and there are a bunch of folders holding files and sub-folders. Following this analogy, if you were to open your computer–and you were on a Mac–you’d see 16 folders, including the following:
Applications/ Users/ home/ Library/ Volumes/ System/ bin/ usr/
There’s a very good chance you’ve never seen any of these folders. We call this the root of your file system; these folders don’t sit inside of any other folders, they only hold other folders and files.
The folder called
Users holds all of the files that you create on your computer. In fact, there is a folder in there named after the user name that you use to log into your computer with. And within that a series of folders that you should be fairly familiar with including a
Documents/ folder. It also includes a
Desktop/ folder–your desktop is just another folder containing files, but one that has special status in terms of how those files are shown to you–ie, on your desktop when you start up your computer.
When writing about directories, directory names are frequently followed by a slash–
/–to differentiate them from files.
If we were to represent this graphically–as a hierarchy–we’d have something like this:
├── Users/ │ ├── yourUserName/ │ │ ├── Downloads/ │ │ ├── Documents/ │ │ ├── Desktop/