Is the macOS User Directory documentation wrong?

This report about trying to find the gramps.ini in the macOS User Directory implies that the wiki misses the mark.

The 5.2 doc section for finding that folder in Windows was recently improved. (Offered examples using Environment Variables so non-expert users don’t have to decypher the use of a <~username> placeholder. Having to adapt on-the-fly to their specific setup is asking too much of less technical users.)

Is there an equivalent for macOS? It would be good if the users could type the exact string that would be usable for navigating to where the User Directory is created on Macs.

from Reddit: r/gramps : Duplicated view column
Thanks, yep I’m on Mac OS Ventura (edit: and Apple Silicon chip) and that’s my bug.

Trying to follow the suggested workaround instructions, I can’t find my .ini view files or any application data files. I looked on Gramps 5.1 Wiki Manual - User Directory - Gramps for where it should be, but in Terminal, from /Users/<username>/ it tells me there is no .gramps file or directory. Nor can I see a gramps directory in the /Users/<username>/Library/Application Support/ directory in Finder.

Any ideas?

Edit: I found it in the Application Support directory where it was meant to be. Not sure how I missed it before. I’ve now fixed the problem.

Additional information that might need to be folded in:

That’s also in a hidden path, so try the Command-Shift-Period toggle to enable (or disable) viewing of hidden files, and see if things work more like you expect.

cd ~/'Library/Application Support/'
cd ~/Library/Application\ Support/
cd "$HOME/Library/Application Support/"

In the following, the Open “Finder” is not explicit enough for a 1st time user of the mac OS:

  • Open “Finder” on your Mac, and click “Go” on the Apple menu bar.
  • Select “Go to Folder” or press the key combination Shift + Command + G.
  • Type the path ~/Library/Application Support in the search box and press Return.

Methods of Opening Finder:

  • Using Keyboard Shortcut: Press Option+Command+Spacebar to open the “Searching This Mac” window, which is officially called the “Finder Search Window”.
  • Clicking on Desktop: Click on the Desktop and then hit CMD+N keybinding to open a new Finder window.
  • Using Terminal: You can also open your current directory in Finder from the Terminal by typing open .
  • Using the Dock: Click the Finder icon in the Dock to open a Finder window.

The gramps.ini file for 5.1 is in

~/Library/Application\ Support/gramps/gramps51

The gramps.ini file for 5.2 is in

~/Library/Application\ Support/gramps/gramps52

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Is the change between forward and backslashes intentional?

Since the folder name (Application Support) contains a space character, the space needs to be quoted. There are different ways of doing this, the one I used here is to preceed the space with a backslash.

An equally valid approach is to use double quote around the whole thing (as was done the 2nd post. The various are equivalent:

cd ~/Library/Application\ Support/
cd “$HOME/Library/Application Support/”

That is, ~ is the same as $HOME (the user home directory)
And “Application Support” is the same as Application\ Support

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The Finder is the most fundamental application on macOS. Our wiki has to assume some level of understanding of the system the user is in front of. Otherwise, don’t we have to start by explaining what a pointing device is and how to use it to “Point” and “Click”? Yes, I’m being sarcastic but if a user is reading about how to find an .ini file, presumably to edit it, I would assume that activating the Finder is not going to be a problem.


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I never thoughr of the Finder as an ‘openable’ thing when using the Mac back in the 80s and 90s. The Finder was always there. It was pervasive. So the instruction to ‘open’ it made no sense to me.

So I’m wondering if Apple had changed the experience. What is the assumption about the user’s location at that point?

Without a system in front of me to test while writing user documentation, it is necessary to ask some “basic assumption” questions. My normal process is to try doing all the wrong things to find where users might take a wrong turn. And write for those lost souls.

Now adays, Finder is a fundamental part of the user experience (as others mentioned). Think of Windows Explorer. It is the nav tool for the user. Many users have no idea how to open a Terminal window, so that would need explained. But all users should know Finder.

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Brian, I wasn’t trying to attack you. I completely understand that trying to write sufficiently detailed instructions for novice users is HARD.

OTOH, as I’ve posted before, I don’t think Gramps is for novices. Gramps has a rich selection of features to help a researcher capture and work with any and all evidence they are collecting. I think the project would benefit from leaning into that.

IOW: “Gramps: the best choice if your current genealogy software is too limiting.”


I didn’t take it that way. Just wanted to make clear that the intent wasn’t to frustrate people when I’m being obviously obtuse. Just wringing out some extra info to see if there are unsaid assumptions by adepts that novices might need to have included explicitly. Because everyone is a novice when they read docs.

OK, here’s another one on the subject:

Years ago, a friend asked for my help to recover some of his trees. He came here with a MacBook Pro (I guess), and it was clear that he had no clue about the location of his data, so he couldn’t answer my questions when I asked for those either. He brought an external drive too, however, on which I found a grampsdb folder with enough mess inside that I could dig into. And that’s a sort of challenge that I like.

And now some voice inside me says that when I tried to use Finder to find the grampsdb on the built-in hard drive, it wasn’t succesful until I managed to run Finder as admin. Can that be true? I have a 2012 MacBook Pro on my coffee table now, with an inaccessible SDD inside, and figured out a way to install OS X Mountain Lion on a thumb drive, which is slow, but does work, but that OS is too old to download Gramps with, because the Safari version on it doesn’t our modern web site certificates, and an update to Catalina fails too.

Long story short: Windows Explorer only shows the user directory when you configure it to show hidden files, and I remember something similar for that old MacBook Pro. Is that right, or just a figment of my imagination?

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MacOS is similar in having hidden files/folders. The grampsdb folder is stored under a hidden folder (~/Library) so not easy to find.

To reveal hidden files in Finder, press Shift + Command + . (period). Doing this allows you to display and traverse hidden folders and/or open hidden files within Finder. This does NOT allow Finder search to find a hidden file/folder.

To use Finder to search for hidden files is more complex. To do this, open Finder and search for ‘grampsdb’. It will not find it by default (since it is in a hidden folder). To find it, you would need to:

  1. Search for ‘grampsdb’ and limit to files with this name (not including files that contain this word). You will get nothing.
  2. At the end of the 2nd row of the window is a Save and + . Press the + sign. This adds a 3rd row where you can specify additional attributes for the search.
  3. First field - choose ‘other’ which gives a dropdown. Choose attribute = ‘System files’ and toggle the ‘in Menu’ checkbox. This adds to the dropdown options.
  4. Now choose System files in the first field. Choose ‘are included’ in the second field. The Finder search will now include hidden files and folders. The grampsdb folder will appear.

Personally, I think it is easier to use the Terminal app and the command below since the find command has no sense of hidden files. But I am a CLI kinda person.

find . -name grampsdb -print


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