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How to See Hidden Files On Your Mac

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On your Mac, many files and folders are hidden. Hidden files include those that are required to run your system. They are kept secret to prevent accidental deletions and changes. We can help you if you need to view those files to assist with troubleshooting, or any other reason.

These are the easiest ways to view hidden files on a Mac. We will also teach you how to hide hidden folders and files on a Mac.

A Mac’s hidden files

There are two quick ways to quickly and easily show hidden folders and files on your Mac. The type of task you are trying to accomplish will determine which one you choose.

Use a shortcut to view hidden files

A keyboard shortcut is the fastest way to see hidden files in a folder on your Mac. This method requires that you are running macOS Sierra or higher.

To view hidden files on your Mac, simply press Cmd + Shift (+ Period) ( ).

Boom! Boom! Use the same keyboard shortcut to hide files or folders that were once hidden.

Use Terminal to View Hidden Files

A Terminal command is another way to see hidden files on your Mac. You can open Terminal by selecting Applications > Utilities, or using Spotlight (Cmd+ Space).

Enter the following command to see hidden files and folders. Hit Return for it to be executed:


defaults: Write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

In place of TRUE, you can also add YES to the end.

Next, enter the next command. Hit Return.

Killall Finder

All hidden folders and files on your Mac now should be visible.

Use Terminal to hide files that were previously hidden

You can hide files that were previously hidden on your Mac with another Terminal command, just like the shortcut method.

To hide files and folders that were hidden previously, enter the following command and hit Return.

defaults: write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles fALSE

In place of FALSE, you can also add NO to the end.

Next, enter the next command. Hit Return.

Killall Finder

Now, your files and folders hidden should be hidden and tucked away!

How to hide files and folders on a Mac

Are you looking to hide your files and folders from your Mac? Perhaps you have sensitive information that you wish to hide on a shared computer. It is easy to do this using Terminal. Just open it and follow the steps.

Enter the following command and make sure to add a space at end. Do not press the Return key.

Drag the file/folder you wish to hide onto the Terminal window. Hit Return.

The file or folder should not be visible in its original place. You can view hidden files on Mac using one of the methods described above. Hidden files are like dimmed objects.

You can access hidden files on your Mac if you don’t want to see them. Open Finder and click Go> Folder in the menu bar. Enter the path to the file or folder. To shorten the path name (e.g. replace your user folder), you can add a tickle () to the beginning.

For our example, we would enter ~/Documents/TopSecretProject.

The hidden folder or file should now open. You can find our tips to locate lost files on a Mac if you don’t know where it is located.

Unhide Files and Folders from Mac

You can use the Terminal command to reverse the previous Terminal command.

Enter the following command in Terminal. Add a space after the end. Drag the file or folder to the Terminal window, and hit Return.

Additional Tips and Tricks to Hidden Files on Mac

These are some additional tips and tricks to help you deal with hidden files on your Mac.

Hidden a Folder Doesn’t Hide Its Files

Hidden folders do not hide the files in the folder by default. Even though you might not be able see the hidden folder, it is possible to hide files in it to increase security.

Close and Reopen Finder

To see the changes you make to hidden or unhide items using the Terminal commands, close Finder and reopen it. If you are trying to hide a file or folder using Finder, and don’t notice the changes immediately, close Finder, and reopen it to that location.

After the hiding or unhiding command, you can also use the killall command from Terminal. This will start Finder. Both commands can be run simultaneously. Just separate them by using a semicolon. (;)

Quickly Access the Library folder

You can quickly access your Mac’s Library folder by using one of the methods described above. You can also use a shortcut.

When you open Finder, hold the Option button and click Go on the menu bar. The Library folder should appear directly below the Home folder.

You can also click Go > Folder in the menu bar. Type /Library and hit Get.

Hidden Files: Be cautious

Remember that many files and folders on your Mac are hidden for a reason, as we have already mentioned. When you access hidden files that macOS requires, make sure you are clear about what you are doing. You may need to access locked files on your Mac in some instances. Find out what it means for macOS to lock files and folders.

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