How to See Hidden Files on Your Mac
Your Mac contains many files and folders that are hidden from view. These include files required to run your system, which are hidden to prevent accidental deletions or changes. But if you need to see those hidden files, to help with troubleshooting or for another reason, we can help.
Here are the simplest ways to see hidden files on a Mac. We’ll also show you how to hide hidden files again and how to hide files or folders of your own to keep them from prying eyes.
How to View Hidden Files on a Mac
There are a couple of quick and easy ways to show the hidden files and folders on your Mac. The one you should choose depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
View Hidden Files With a Shortcut
The fastest way to view hidden files while in a folder on your Mac is with a keyboard shortcut. In order to use this method, you must be running macOS Sierra or later.
Simply press Cmd + Shift + Period (.) to show hidden files on your Mac.
Boom! You should immediately see all the files hidden in the folder and any subsequent folder you open. To hide those once-hidden files and folders again, just use the same keyboard shortcut.
View Hidden Files With Terminal
Another way to view hidden files on your Mac is with a Terminal command. Open Terminal from Applications > Utilities or by using Spotlight (Cmd + Space).
Then enter the following command to view hidden files and folders; hit Return to execue it:
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
You can also use the word YES at the end in place of TRUE.
Then enter the next command and hit Return:
Now all hidden files or folders on your Mac should be visible.
Hide Previously Hidden Files With Terminal
Like the shortcut method above, you can easily hide previously hidden files on your Mac again with another Terminal command.
Enter the following command to hide previously hidden files and folders and hit Return:
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles FALSE
You can also use the word NO at the end in place of FALSE.
Then enter the next command and hit Return:
And now your hidden files and folders should be tucked away and hidden from view once more!
How to Hide Files and Folders on a Mac
Do you want to hide your own files and folders on your Mac? Maybe you have sensitive information on your shared computer that you want to keep hidden. This is very easy to do using the Terminal, so just open it and follow these steps.
Enter the following command, making sure to include a space at the end. Do not hit the Return key yet:
Now, drag the file or folder you want to hide onto the Terminal window and then hit Return.
That file or folder should no longer be viewable in its original location. If you use one of the methods above to view hidden files on Mac, then you will be able to see it. Hidden files appear as dimmed items.
If you choose not to see hidden files on your Mac and need to access the one you hid, you can do so using the direct path. With Finder open, click Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar. Enter the path for the file or folder. You can use a tilde (~) at the beginning to shorten the path name, as it replaces your user folder.
So if you have the file in your Documents folder, for instance, you would enter: ~/Documents/[FileName]. For our example, we would enter ~/Documents/TopSecretProject.
Your hidden file or folder should open right up. If you can’t remember the folder your file resides in, check out our tips for finding lost files on a Mac.
Unhide Files and Folders on Mac
If you decide to unhide a file or folder that you previously hid, you can reverse the Terminal command above.
Enter the following command into Terminal with a space at the end; then drag the file or folder onto the Terminal window and then hit Return:
Other Tips and Tricks for Hidden Files on Mac
Here are a few extra tips and tricks for when you work with hidden files on your Mac.
Hiding a Folder Doesn’t Hide Its Files
If you hide a folder of your own, the files within the folder are not hidden by default. So even though others may not be able to see your hidden folder, you may also want to hide the files within it to keep them from view for extra security.
Close and Reopen Finder
When using the Terminal commands above to hide or unhide items, you may need to close and reopen Finder to see the change you made. For example, if you use a Terminal command to hide your own file or folder and don’t see the change immediately, close Finder and reopen it to the location.
You can also run the killall Finder command in Terminal after the hiding or unhiding command. This will restart Finder. You can even run both commands simultaneously—just separate them with a semicolon (;).
Quickly Access the Library Folder
If you want fast access to your Mac’s Library folder, you can access it if you use one of the methods above for showing hidden files and folders. But you can also use a shortcut.
With Finder open, hold the Option key when you click Go in the menu bar. You should then see the Library folder directly below the Home folder in the menu.
You can also click Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar, type in ~/Library, and hit Go.
Be Cautious With Hidden Files
Keep in mind that, as we mentioned earlier, many files and folders are hidden on your Mac for a reason. So make sure that you know what you’re doing when accessing hidden files that are necessary for macOS to operate. That said, you may also run into instances that require you to work with locked files on your Mac. Learn what it means to lock files and folders in macOS.
Want to lock a file on your Mac so you can’t accidentally edit or delete it? Here’s how to use Finder or Terminal to do so.
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