Hidden Files on Mac?

The short-short version, thankfully:


Command + Shift + Period

You’re welcome.

Shows hidden files. Then the same thing to hide them again.

Only throwing it out here because I keep forgetting.

Why Hidden Files?

One of the questions might be: why do I have hidden files all over? Well, we know that they’re there, but extremely rarely need them to contribute to the visual clutter that inhibits the usability of the interface itself.

In some cases, certain things are important for your own local account to function properly. So, we simply hide them from view. The difference between Unix and Windows is that in Unix, it was decided long ago that you could simply hide an object by starting its name with a period.

In Windows? If I recall, it was a matter of going to the file’s Properties dialog, then ticking Hide. Oh, and then clicking OK.

Some real-world examples that you probably have on your own system now are things like .bashrc, .bash_profile (or .zprofile in the current age), maybe a directory called .ssh. There’s might also be a .Trash folder, which, as the name may suggest, is part of your user account’s Trash (wastebasket, Trash can, Recycle Bin, etc).

There could certainly be many, many more.

In several cases, mucking about with them can have unexpected consequences. So, leave them be unless you clearly understand what you’re doing — and have a back-up plan for when the unexpected occurs.

Presently, I need to go tweak a few configurations and would rather have visibility to them through the Finder instead of typing things into the Terminal.

Historic Methods

It’s far-easier with three-key trigram shortcut than it used to be!

Older OS X Versions

In previous versions of OS X, it could have been as “simple” as digging into the View Options pane of Finder (not Preferences!) then enabling the Show Hidden Files selector.

Legacy OS X

Or even much worse: pasting some guru-level commands into the terminal window:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

Then updating the running Finder process:

killall Finder

And an equally-complex process to disable it:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles FALSE

And don’t forget to restart Finder:

killall Finder

Dark times, they were.

God, I miss the screaming.

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