How do I reveal hidden files on my Mac? This tutorial shows you how to reveal hidden files in Mac OS X Finder.

Some people do not even realise that there are a huge range of hidden files, and folders, in Mac OS X. Apple likes to keep things simple for its users, and keeps many files and folders hidden away from prying eyes. The Mac's hidden file structure ensures that Mac newcomers do not interfere with the inner workings of a Mac. However, keeping files hidden is tedious for more experienced Mac users looking to tweak and fine-tune Mac OS X. This trick is also ideal for Mac OS X aficionados who just want to become more intimate with their Apple machine.

How to show hidden files in Mac OS X: Show hidden files using Terminal

The Terminal application is the best way to display hidden files in Mac OS X. The Terminal app enables you to control Mac OS X using the command line to enter Unix commands. We like to think of Terminal as the hood of a car; it allows you to open Mac OS X up and look inside.

Here is how to use Mac Terminal to show hidden files:

Open Terminal (click Go > Utilities and double-click the Terminal app)

Now copy and paste both lines listed below into Terminal one at a time, and press Return after each line:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES

killall Finder

Your Terminal window should look like this:

Show Hidden Files in Mac OS X commands in Terminal

Any Finder windows on your desktop should disappear, and then reappear. When the Finder relaunches, it displays hidden folders. The first line changes a setting inside the AppleShowAllFiles preferences; setting it to YES. The second scary sounding "killall" line quits and relaunches the Finder.

This is how your Home folder should now look in the Finder window.

Finder displaying hidden files

You can also restart the Finder by holding down Option+Control and clicking the Finder icon in the Dock, then choose Relaunch.

How to show hidden files in Mac OS X: Hide hidden files using Terminal

Returning files to their native 'hidden' state using Terminal is just as easy. You use the same command but write NO at the end (matching the case is important). Cut and paste these two commands into Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles NO

killall Finder

Mac OS X Finder's hidden files vanish again. 

How to show hidden files in Mac OS X: Hide & show hidden files using Funter

If you find yourself accessing hidden files on a regular basis, there are a few shareware apps that automate the process for you. Most are free or request a donation if you find them useful, such as Gotoes.

Some programs will allow you to use a hotkey to hide/show hidden files, whilst others, like Funter which is standalone program is activated on startup through a simple click of a button.

We found Funter to be a great standalone program which enables you to hide and show hidden files; it's as simple as navigating to the top of your Mac's screen and enabling the Show Hidden Files option. Once doing it, your Finder windows will be restarted, as they do with the Terminal.

The simple, easy to use program barely uses any resources and we would highly suggest it over the Terminal as it's a simpler solution. It can be launched upon startup or be disabled, giving you the option to launch the program when you want to use the feature.

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