Home > Mac administration, macOS > The macOS user template directories have a new filesystem location on macOS Catalina

The macOS user template directories have a new filesystem location on macOS Catalina

New users on a Mac have a certain set of default settings which are copied into their user profiles the first time they log in. Starting with Mac OS X 10.0.0, these settings have been stored in the following location:

/System/Library/User Template

Screen Shot 2019 10 14 at 11 33 55 AM

Inside the User Template directory are a number of language-specific directories where the default settings for various languages are stored. This allows the new user’s default settings to be appropriate for their language and keyboard configuration.

As of macOS Catalina 10.15.0, the location of the User Template directory has changed to the following:

/Library/User Template

Screen Shot 2019 10 14 at 10 55 23 AM

The reason for the change is that the /System directory is now stored in Catalina’s read-only volume for the OS. By moving it to /Library, the User Template directory and its enclosed language-specific directories remain readable and writable for those folks who prefer to deploy settings by making changes to the user template directories.

Categories: Mac administration, macOS
  1. October 14, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    This is great information, thank you, Rich! I was thinking to myself, “what’s happening to User Template if it’s now in a read-only /System folder?”

  2. JimH
    October 16, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Hmmm…and how friendly does that play with things like deploying Safari and other browser settings with something like Jamf? Under Mojave people were seeing user profiles getting corrupted.

  3. cashxx
    October 21, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    Not sure why, I have had updates wipe the /Library/User Template/ a few times while configuring things. Keeps resetting /etc/ssh/sshd_config as well.

  4. Dick Lo
    April 30, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    But I found that the changes of default user template could not be done at folder /Library/User Template on macOS 10.15 Catalina or /System/Library/User Template on 10.14 Mojave.

    • November 6, 2020 at 7:08 pm

      Hi Dick….I’ve found that you can modify the Library/User\ Template in Cat…habe to use Recovery environment…but there are unexpected results & Keychain issues/errors. Looks like Folder permissions are mixed & the Keychains folder has no ‘x’ as do sevaral others if you’re doing a ‘ditto’ command. If you’ve found something…please share! 🙂 Regards, ~Patrick

      • Jay Chen
        February 12, 2021 at 3:24 pm

        Me and my coworker found another location that stores some default user preferences in Catalina : /Library/User Template/Non_Localized/

        And some attempt to clear the Library folder in that location as well as clearing /Library/User\ Template/Library/ appears to resolve the Keychain folder permission error.

  5. Dick Lo
    April 8, 2021 at 5:19 am

    Hi Jay Chen, I would like to request the exact location of Library folder you tried to clear in which to resolve the Keychain folder permission error.

  6. Dick Lo
    April 8, 2021 at 8:38 am

    Jay Chen, Great! it worked to clear all Keychains at /Library/User\ Template/Library/. But I found I could not create folder at user’s Desktop location.

    • JM H
      June 15, 2022 at 3:57 pm

      I have this issue right now… did you manage to solve that problem?

  7. Doug Riddels
    August 25, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    On my Catalina box, English.lproj prefs only contain symbolichotkeys.plist. Everything else (and all folders besides [and including] Preferences and FontCollections) is now in Non_localized.

  8. December 20, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    I’m trying to write a script that will reset certain accounts back to the default User Template upon login, by running rsync with the –delete option (delete anything in the user home that isn’t in the User Template). It works fine when I run it as one of the user accounts in question, but when triggered by a LaunchAgent at user login (as the same user !!!), rsync encounters permissions errors. Anyone know what’s going on here?

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