A Breakdown of the Hidden CoreServices Folder in macOS
If you’re a Mac user, you’re probably familiar with the Utilities folder nested in /Applications. You may not, however, be aware of another utility-filled folder hiding deeper in your system.
It’s called CoreServices, and it contains a lot of applications that you see all the time on your Mac, even though you never “open” them in the traditional sense. Among them are Siri, Finder, Games (yep, that still exists), Bluetooth Setup Assistant, and Weather all have to live somewhere, and that place is CoreServices. Let’s give it a proper look.
Where Do You Find CoreServices?
CoreServices is in your extremely necessary, but underused, Library folder. The Library folder in turn lives inside your System folder.
Note: This is not the Library folder in Macintosh HD, nor is it the Library folder in your Home folder. You can find it by going to Macintosh HD > System > Library > CoreServices.
Now that you’ve found the CoreServices folder, let’s look at some of the most useful apps that live in it. Note that most of these are stored in the Applications folder within CoreServices.
About This Mac
This app shows off basic system information about your Mac. You can also access it by going to Apple menu > About This Mac.
- Overview gives a summary of hardware and software information, like model, processor speed, total memory, macOS version, and serial number. Additionally, the System Report button will open up System Information, which gives you a deep dive into the specs of your Mac.
- Displays provides information about the built-in and connected displays, such as their size and resolution.
- Storage will tell you how much free space is available on your drives. Additionally, hitting the Manage button will bring up Storage Management.
- Support and Service has helpful resources such as the user manual and links to AppleCare.
Archive Utility compresses files into a ZIP archive, which can greatly reduce the overall size of the file. The easiest way to use Archive Utility is to simply Ctrl + Click on a file and hit Compress.
If you launch this app from the folder, however, you can adjust the preferences as well. You can change the folder where ZIP files and expanded files are saved, or choose to delete the original file after the archive is created.
This utility is best utilized by Mac administrators who need to bind their machines to a directory service like Active Directory or Open Directory. It lets you manage settings such as mobile account creation and search policies.
Even though Apple hasn’t sold a laptop with a built-in DVD player since 2016, DVD Player still exists. It’s hidden deep in the depths of your System Library, presumably waiting for the day you rediscover all your Dawson’s Creek DVDs and buy an external disc drive.
Network Utility takes several useful Terminal commands and puts them into a handy app. It is an extremely helpful program for improving your network with your Mac.
- Info provides information on your network interfaces. Use the dropdown menu to select Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or whatever interface you use to connect to the internet. The utility will display information such as your IP address, MAC address, network speed, and whether this link is active or not.
- Netstat provides info that is mostly beneficial for network administrators. It shows information related to the packets sent and received by your computer.
- Ping lets you check whether or not you can connect to a certain IP, and how quickly packets pass between that IP and your machine. It’s useful for testing a connection to a specific site, or if your computer is connected to the internet at all.
- Lookup takes an IP or a website and returns the website or IP that it’s associated with.
- Traceroute will take a web address or IP and show you the route that a packet takes to get there, including the IPs of any servers that it has to pass through before it reaches its final destination. It’s useful (but mostly just fun) to see how many servers you get routed through in order to get to nearly any website.
- Whois and Finger can show you who registered an entered domain or email address. You can use it to find out, for example, the entity that is sending you spam from a specific address.
- Portscan lets you put in an IP and see what ports are available on that machine. It is useful when you are trying to connect to a specific machine and want to make sure that the port you’re connecting to is open.
VNC, or Virtual Network Computing, is a software that allows one computer to control another remotely. macOS has a built-in VNC client called Screen Sharing.
You must set up Remote Screen Sharing on both machines in order to use this feature. To do that, go to System Preferences > Sharing > Remote Management and check the box. They must also be accessible to each other, either over a local network or VPN.
When you open Screen Sharing, type in the hostname of the machine you want to control. Then, when prompted, type in the username and password of a registered user of the target machine.
Once you log in, the target machine’s screen will show up on your screen, and you’ll be able to control the mouse and keyboard remotely.
This app showed up in macOS Sierra, and gives you some insight into what’s taking up space on your Mac. It breaks down your storage space by type. It will also provide some options for managing that storage better, such as emptying the Trash automatically, or removing iTunes purchases if you’re not using them.
System Image Utility
This is another tool that mainly benefits Mac administrators. It allows you to create a macOS installer than you can put on a server, which you can then access over your network.
If you’re having trouble connecting to your Wi-Fi network, you can utilize some third-party tools to diagnose your Wi-Fi issues, or you can use Wireless Diagnostics. Open the program either from the CoreServices folder, or hold down Option and hit the Wi-Fi icon in your menu bar to open Wireless Diagnostics from Finder.
It will analyze your network connection and provide helpful tips for setting up your network and customizing your DNS settings.
Where Wireless Diagnostics really shines, however, is with its logs. If your wireless issues are intermittent and hard to prove, you can tell Wireless Diagnostics to monitor your network for dropouts. When it detects one, it can log it in the /var/tmp folder, so that you have documented proof of a dropout that you can show to your ISP or technician.
Learn About the Default Apps on Your Mac
Now that you’ve taken a deep dive into the CoreServices folder, level up on your macOS system knowledge by reading up on all the apps that come with your Mac, particularly the ones in the Utilities folder. Learn about Keychain Access, Terminal, Script Editor and more to really get under the hood of your computer.