How to Show Hidden Files on Your Mac

  Matt Cone       November 11, 2021      Tutorials Mac Developer


You wouldn’t know it by using the Finder, but your Mac has thousands of hidden files that can’t be found or accessed using conventional methods, like opening a folder or searching with Spotlight. Most of these secret files are hidden from view to protect you. Apple doesn’t want new users poking around in, say, the /sbin directory, because there’s no real reason why they would need to access it. But power users may want to see all of the files on their Mac, for whatever reason.

Finder icon

There are two ways to show hidden files on your Mac. You can use a keyboard shortcut, or you can enter a command in your Terminal application.

Using a Keyboard Shortcut

You can use a keyboard shortcut to show hidden files on your Mac. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Finder application.

  2. Press the Command + Shift + . keys, as shown below.

    Mac hidden files keyboard shortcut

  3. The hidden files will appear, as shown below.

    Mac hidden files in Finder

In this example, the names of the hidden files start with a period (.) and the icons are dimmer than the unhidden files.

Using the Terminal application

You can also enter a command in the Terminal application to show hidden files on your Mac. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Terminal application. (You can find it in Applications → Utilities.)

  2. Enter the following command to force the Finder to show hidden files.

    defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles true
    
  3. Press Return.

  4. Now enter the following command to quit the Finder and restart it. (Or right click on the Finder icon while holding down the Option key and select Relaunch.)

    killall Finder
    
  5. Open a Finder window. The hidden files and directories are displayed with dimmed icons, as shown below.

    Mac hidden files in Finder

How to Stop Showing Hidden Files on Your Mac

If you’ve decided that you no longer want to see hidden files in the Finder, you can disable the feature. If you used the keyboard shortcut, simply press the Command + Shift + . keys again to hide the hidden files.

If you used the Terminal application, follow these instructions to stop showing hidden files on your Mac:

  1. Open the Terminal application. (You can find it in Applications → Utilities.)

  2. Enter the following command to force the Finder to show hidden files.

    defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles false
    
  3. Press Return.

  4. Now enter the following command to quit the Finder and restart it. (Or right click on the Finder icon while holding down the Option key and select Relaunch.)

    killall Finder
    

You’ve disabled the feature. Hidden files will no longer be displayed in the Finder.

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