That’s a huge number of folders


I use a Mac for the technical sales side of my work, for the uninteresting reason that I need Microsoft Office. The internal SSD was starting to get full, so I ran GrandPerspective to surface where the space all went.

Screenshot showing the detection of 229,759 folders

Wait… that’s almost a quarter of a million folders! On a MacBook Air with a stingy SSD? That’s more virtual folders than I’d suspect all but the largest physical archives in the world would have.

It’s at this stage I would lean back in my chair, fall over, pick myself up, then regale you all with tales of my childhood DOS days. I’d mention that I tried maintaining a clean directory structure, but would also limit the number of nested directories to a few dozen, given it’d be tedious to traverse anything complicated on a command line. I’d contrast this to my modern FreeBSD desktop and laptops having orders of magnitude fewer folders than this Mac despite having full KDE Plasma desktops, or my classic NetBSD systems sporting Fluxbox. Then finally, I’d attempt to make a point about the state of modern computing, and the never-ending spiral of complexity, and whether even the metaphor of a folder is even meaningful anymore.

There are a bunch of reasons why, but it only reinforces my feeling of merely being a guest on macOS. In 2023, I could still tell you where almost everything is on a FreeBSD or NetBSD system (and even Linux, despite their best efforts of late). On a Mac? I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea of anything outside my home directory, /usr/local, and /opt.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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