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StandardPaths is a category on NSFileManager for simplifying access to standard application directories on iOS and Mac OS and abstracting the iCloud backup flags on iOS. It also provides support for working with device-specific file suffixes, such as the @2x suffix for Retina displays, or the -568h suffix for iPhone 5 and can optionally swizzle …

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iOS and the Mac App Store place quite strict conditions on where files should be stored, but it's not always clear where the right place is. As of iOS 5 and iOS 5.0.1 it's even more complex because of the need to ensure that certain files aren't backed up to iCloud or aren't wiped out when the device gets full.

StandardPaths provides a simple set of NSFileManager extension methods to access these folders in a clear and consistent way, and abstracts the complexities of applying the mobile backup attribute to disable iCloud backup on iOS 5 and above.

Supported OS & SDK Versions

  • Supported build target - iOS 5.0 / Mac OS 10.7 (Xcode 4.2)
  • Earliest supported deployment target - iOS 4.0 / Mac OS 10.6
  • Earliest compatible deployment target - iOS 3.0 / Mac OS 10.6

NOTE: 'Supported' means that the library has been tested with this version. 'Compatible' means that the library should work on this OS version (i.e. it doesn't rely on any unavailable SDK features) but is no longer being tested for compatibility and may require tweaking or bug fixes to run correctly.

ARC Compatibility

StandardPaths work with both ARC and non-ARC projects. There is no need to exclude StandardPaths files from the ARC validation process, or to convert StandardPaths using the ARC conversion tool.

Thread Safety

You can call the StandardPaths methods safely from any thread.


To use the StandardPaths in your project, just drag the category files into your project. It has no dependencies.

NSFileManager extension methods

StandardPaths extends NSFileManager with a collection of useful standard directories. Each method comes in two versions, one that returns just the path to the directory and a second that returns a path for a specific file name or path fragment within that directory. In the interests of concision, these methods are paired together in the documentation below.

- (NSString *)publicDataPath;
- (NSString *)pathForPublicFile:(NSString *)file;

Return the path for the user Documents folder. On iOS this a good place to store user-created documents. You can make these documents available for the user to access through iTunes by setting UIFileSharingEnabled to YES in the application's Info.plist. For this reason it's a bad idea to store private application data files in the Documents folder as you lose this flexibility. You should store these in Library/Application Support instead. Note also that the Mac App Store sandbox rules prohibit accessing files in Documents without requesting explicit permission from the user.

- (NSString *)privateDataPath;
- (NSString *)pathForPrivateFile:(NSString *)file;

Returns the path for Library/Application Support on iOS, or Library/Application Support/<AppName> on Mac OS and creates it if it does not exist. This is a good place to store application data files that are not user editable and so shouldn't be stored in the Documents folder.

- (NSString *)cacheDataPath;
- (NSString *)pathForCacheFile:(NSString *)file;

Returns the path to the Application's Library/Caches folder. On Mac OS, the path will include a subfolder named after the Application's bundle ID to prevent namespace collisions. If your app downloads data from the Internet, or caches the result of expensive calculations, this is a good place to store the result. On iOS 5 and above these files will be deleted automatically when the device runs low on space, so if the data is important you should store it using the offlineDataPath instead.

- (NSString *)offlineDataPath;
- (NSString *)pathForOfflineFile:(NSString *)file;

Returns the path for Library/Application Support/Offline Data on iOS, or Library/Application Support/<AppName>/Offline Data on Mac OS and creates it if it does not exist. This is not a standard defined path, but it is a safe place to put cache files that you do not wish to be automatically deleted when the device runs low on disk space. On iOS 5.0.1 the attribute is set on this folder to prevent it from being automatically backed up to iCloud. This flag is deprecated in iOS 5.1, so when compiling for 5.1 and above, a new API is used. These mechanisms are not available prior to iOS 5.0.1, so users on iOS 5.0 will find that these files are synced to their cloud space. Previous releases of the StandardPaths library stored offline data files in Library/Caches, but this would cause inconvenience for users upgrading from iOS 4/5 to 5.0.1 that is probably not justified, so as of version 1.1, offlineDataPath no longer does this.

- (NSString *)temporaryDataPath;
- (NSString *)pathForTemporaryFile:(NSString *)file;

Returns the path for the temporary data folder. This is a good place to store temporary files e.g. during some complex process where the data can't all fit in memory. Files stored here may be deleted automatically when the application is closed, or when the device runs low on memory, but it's a good idea to delete them yourself anyway when you've finished with them.

- (NSString *)resourcePath;
- (NSString *)pathForResource:(NSString *)file;

Returns the path for files in the application resources folder. This basically just maps to [[NSBundle mainBundle] resourcePath]. Files in this folder are read-only. Note that unlike the [[NSBundle mainBundle] pathForResource:ofType:] method, pathForResource: does not return nil if the file does not exist.


As long as you have included the NSFileManager+StandardPaths.h file, you can call any of the methods above on any instance of NSFileManager. For example, if you wanted to get the path to a file called "" in the cache folder, you could write either of the following:

NSString *path = [[NSFileManager defaultManager] pathForCacheFile:@""];
NSString *path = [[[NSFileManager defaultManager] cacheDataPath] stringByAppendingPathComponent:@""];
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