How to show hidden files and folders in Finder on Mac

By , Aug 4, 2014

Mac OS X Tips

Some people like to know everything that is on their computer. Admittedly, I was one of these people many moons ago, when I was a Windows user. I would always make sure that Windows Explorer would show all hidden files and folders. I’m not sure why, but I liked it this way.

These days, I’m quite the opposite, as I like to see as little files and folders as possible on my Mac. But I understand some people out there have the desire to see all those files and folders, for whatever reason that may be.

In this post I will show you how to show hidden files and folders in Finder on your Mac

How to show hidden files in Finder on OS X

If you use OS X 10.9 Mavericks or OS X 10.10 Yosemite, follow these steps to show hidden files in Finder:

1) Launch Terminal.

2) Copy/paste or type in the following command

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles -boolean true ; killall Finder

terminal show hidden files

3) You should now see hidden files and folders in Finder.

show hidden files mac

How to hide hidden files in Finder on OS X

Follow these steps if you want to hide the files and folders you previously revealed. Note this works with OS X Mavericks and Yosemite.

1) Launch Terminal.

2) Copy/paste or type in the following command

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles -boolean false ; killall Finder

hide hidden files mac finder

3) All hidden files that you have revealed should now be hidden again.

How to show hidden files in Finder on OS X 10.8 and prior

If you use OS X 10.8 and prior, use these command line instead:

1) Launch Terminal.

2) Copy/paste or type in the following command

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

How to hide hidden files in Finder on OS X 10.8 and prior

If you want to hide the files and folders again on a machine running OS X 10.8 and prior, follow these steps:

If you use OS X 10.8 and prior, use these command line instead:

1) Launch Terminal.

2) Copy/paste or type in the following command

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

As always, feel free to ask any question in the comments section below.

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  • http://mezcudi.tumblr.com/ Mezcudi

    Question is, how to hide file Files?

    • https://twitter.com/aidanharris1 Aidan Harris

      Name a file or folder .SOMETHING. Files prefixed with ‘.’ are automatically hidden. You’ll have to whip out the terminal to do it though and do the following:

      Navigate to where the file is using ‘cd folder’ (e.g cd ~/Desktop which will take you to the desktop). To show files you can use the command ‘ls’. Once you’ve found the file or folder you want to hide issue the following command:

      mv fileOrFolderName .fileOrFolderName

      The above will rename the file and finder will no longer show the file or folder unless hidden files are set to be shown.

  • Carlos DeJesus

    Sort of off topic but I was wondering if anyone might have an answer for me.
    I have a Macbook Pro running the latest version of Mavericks and I had “CleanMyMac” awhile back and I deleted the application a long time ago. Every time I drag something into my trash I get a notification from CleaMyMac asking if it wants me to clear my trash contents but I don’t see how that can be if the app is no longer there. I’m assuming its hidden somewhere but I dont see it anywhere. I was hoping this article would show it but no luck. Any suggestions, ideas, and or comments. Anything is appreciated, thanks again.

    • Guest

      I also need an answer, but my app is “iSkysoft”, it still has the app extension to Download any animated images, videos or clips even thought i deleted the App file…

    • Christopher

      I think I found it, open the “Library” file, open Application support, you should be able to find something there, I had Mackeeper on my mac and there is a “Mackeeper Helper” file. There should be something similar…

  • Chetan

    And to avoid copy pasting and to make life easy google search Hiddenfiles Widget and install it. It will put a small widget in your mac dashboard with just one simple button to hide and show hidden files. Its free and supports till mavericks.

  • Piyush

    Download Alfred and a workflow to toggle hidden files!

  • Chris

    Personally I prefer Total Finder, simply hit ⌘ + shift + . and it toggle hidden files and folders

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    I find the lack of a GUI for such power-user stuff in OS X irritating.

    • https://twitter.com/aidanharris1 Aidan Harris

      Most power users should be capable of getting around the terminal fairly well…

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        I’d rather have a GUI than go through a terminal, anytime.

      • https://twitter.com/aidanharris1 Aidan Harris

        TinkerTool is a good utility that let’s you configure hidden / power user stuff on OS X:

        bresink[.]com/osx/TinkerTool.html

        I find the terminal good enough though as long as you can remember the necessary commands…

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Looks impressive, will give it a shot in my OS X virtual machine.

      • Palmer Paul

        Once you know what you’re doing, using a CLI becomes so much more efficient and easy than navigating through a (usually) poorly designed GUI.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Speak for yourself. I know what I’m doing with my Windows PC and I find taking the time to memorize bunch of commands is pointless when I have a GUI that achieves pretty much everything I could think of for my content.

  • Tearjerker

    isn’t it easier to use Tinkertool?

  • Palmer Paul

    If you’re a command line user, just cd to the directory (for example, cd ~/Desktop takes you to your Desktop) and use ls -a. The -a flag makes ls show all files (including hidden ones).

  • http://blog.chris-emerson.net/ Chris Emerson

    THANK YOU! Man this has been driving me nuts!