Mac OS X – Show Hidden System Files And Folders

If you are a Windows user, then you must be familiar with the concept of hidden files and folders. In Windows, every file/folder has an attribute called ‘Hidden’, which you toggle to true/false by right clicking on it and going to its properties in Windows Explorer.

Since Mac OS X is a UNIX-based system, it follows the UNIX conventions for hiding files. All files and folders that begin with the ‘.’ character are automatically hidden from Finder in Mac OS X. Though you cannot rename a file/folder to begin with the ‘.’ character in Finder, but you can save files with such names from external applications, or specifically hide some folders or files from Finders, simply by renaming them via Terminal to begin with the ‘.’ character.

By default, some system files such as .DS_Store files and other important files are hidden, to prevent the user from accidentally modifying their contents and causing unexpected behavior. You may want to toggle showing or hiding these files if you want to access or modify these files for some reason.

However, the process for this isn’t as straightforward in Mac OS X as it is in a Windows system. To show/hide hidden files, you must follow the following steps:

Show Hidden Files

  1. Launch Finder.
  2. Go to Applications >> Utilities >> Terminal.
  3. Launch Terminal
  4. In Terminal, type:defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
    killall Finder

To hide the hidden files again, just repeat above steps, and in the command, change TRUE to FALSE.

Also, you can press Cmd + Option + Esc to relaunch Finder if you do not wish to restart Finder by the above method.

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