OS X Lion: Important application files to back up

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.
Important application files to back up

Before you erase or reformat your hard disk or update your system software, you should back up your computer. If you can’t back up your entire computer, back up the files listed below, which are used by applications to hold user data or preferences.

The tilde (~) character indicates the name of your home folder, which is the same as your user name. (For example, if your user name is Anna, your home folder is named anna.)

Note: The Library folder is hidden. If you need to open it, make sure you are in the Finder, hold down the Option key, and then choose Go > Library.
Data file Location

Your documents

~/Documents and ~/Desktop

Mail data and settings


iTunes data and settings


iPhoto data and settings

~/Pictures/iPhoto Library/

Address Book data and settings

~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook

iCal data and settings


Safari data and settings




Keychain data and settings




Other preferences


Applications not made by Apple may store user data in different locations. For more information, check the documentation that came with your application.

If you’ve moved application data, such as your iTunes or iPhoto library, from its original location, make sure to also back up that data.

Published Date: Oct 31, 2013