How to Show Hidden Files on Mac

MacOS hides certain system files and folders by default to prevent users from accidentally modifying or deleting important system files. However, there are times when you may need to access these hidden files for troubleshooting, customization, or other purposes.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to show hidden files on your Mac using various methods, allowing you to access and manage hidden files and folders as needed

Show Hidden Files on macOS

Hidden files and folders on macOS are prefixed with a dot (.), making them invisible in Finder by default. These hidden files include system files, configuration files, and other files that are not meant to be directly accessed or modified by users.

While hiding these files helps maintain system stability and security, there are times when you may need to view or edit them for troubleshooting or customization purposes.

1. Use Finder to Show Hidden Files

You can use Finder, macOS’s built-in file management tool, to show hidden files and folders. Follow these steps:

1. Click on the Finder icon in the Dock or press Command + N to open a new Finder window.

2. In the Finder window, navigate to your home folder by clicking on “Go” in the menu bar and selecting “Home” from the dropdown menu.

3. With the home folder open, press Command + Shift + Period (.) on your keyboard. This keyboard shortcut toggles the visibility of hidden files and folders in Finder. Hidden files and folders will now be displayed alongside regular files and folders.

You can now browse through the hidden files and folders in your home directory and other locations on your Mac using Finder.

2. Use Terminal to Show Hidden Files on Mac

Alternatively, you can use Terminal, macOS’s command-line interface, to show hidden files and folders. Follow these steps:

1. Open Spotlight by pressing Command + Spacebar, type “Terminal,” and press Return to open Terminal.

2. In the Terminal window, type the following command and press Return:

   defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE; killall Finder

This command enables the display of hidden files and folders in Finder.

3. After running the command, hidden files and folders will be visible in Finder. You may need to restart Finder by logging out and back in or by restarting your Mac for the changes to take effect.

4. To hide hidden files and folders again, follow the same steps, but use the following command instead:

   defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles FALSE; killall Finder

3. Using Third-Party Applications

There are several third-party applications available that provide graphical interfaces for managing hidden files and folders on macOS. These applications often offer additional features and customization options beyond what is available through Finder or Terminal. Some popular options include “Onyx,” “Hidden Files Toggle,” and “Funter.”

Additional Considerations for Showing Hidden Files on Mac

Exercise Caution: Be cautious when viewing or modifying hidden files and folders, as they may contain critical system files. Making changes to these files without proper knowledge or guidance can potentially harm your system.

Reset Changes: If you’ve made changes to show hidden files using Terminal, you can reset the behavior to its default state by entering the following command in Terminal:

  defaults delete com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles; killall Finder

Conclusion

Showing hidden files on your Mac can be useful for troubleshooting, customization, and accessing system files that are normally hidden from view. By following the methods outlined in this guide, you can easily toggle the visibility of hidden files and folders using Finder, Terminal, or third-party applications.

Remember to exercise caution when working with hidden files and always ensure that you have a backup of critical system files before making any changes. With the ability to show hidden files, you can gain greater control and flexibility over your macOS environment.

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