Mac Software

Can I delete the ‘Relocated Items’ folder on my Mac?

MacBook on desk
Has a Relocated Items folder been added to your Mac?

If you’ve recently performed the upgrade to macOS 11.3, you may have discovered a weird Relocated Items folder on your desktop with some strange files inside. Is this anything to worry about? Let’s take a closer look.

What’s in the Relocated Items folder?

If you open that Relocated Items folder (P.S. it’s actually an alias, you can find out more about aliases here) you should see two things:

  1. A configuration folder
  2. A ‘What Are Relocated Items’ document

The document that Apple provides is actually about as much help as a bacon sandwich to a vegan. It explains that:

These configuration files were modified or customised by you, by another user or by an app. The modifications may be incompatible with the recent macOS upgrade. The modified files are in the Configuration folder, organised in subfolders named after their original locations.

To restore any of the custom configurations, compare your modifications with the configuration changes made during the macOS upgrade and combine them when possible.

Configuration files with the suffix “system_default” were edited or customised but the changes were allowed to remain installed. The system_default version of the file is provided to demonstrate what the Apple-supplied version of this file would look like. It is recommended you compare the two and evaluate whether you wish to integrate any changes Apple may have made to the default version.

Well, that’s about as clear as pint of milk, which is probably why you’ve ended up here, right?

Do I need to worry about this?

If you keep digging through the folders in the Configuration folder, you’ll likely arrive at a file called group.system_default. It’s not entirely clear what the purpose of this file is – there’s lots of complex technical speculation in various forums – but the general consensus is it’s pretty harmless. It’s definitely worth checking that configuration folder, however, just to make sure no other important files are listed there.

Many people seem to have deleted the Relocated Items folder (or alias) and not suffered any ill consequences. Indeed, it’s been sitting on my desktop for over a week, without me doing any of the nonsense that Apple suggests, and my Mac seems to have suffered no ill-effect. My best guess is this is some harmless configuration file that you can safely delete.

If you want to be double sure, you can always keep the folder on the desktop or stored somewhere else on the Mac in case you need it later. My strong bet is that you’ll never need it again and can pop it in the Trash now.

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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