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 view hidden files and folders

If you use any recent version of OS X or macOS, follow these steps to show hidden files in Finder:

1) Launch Terminal.

2) Copy/paste or type in the following command

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -boolean true ; killall Finder

show hidden files on mac

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

view hidden files and folders on mac

How to hide hidden files on Mac

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 AppleShowAllFiles -boolean false ; killall Finder

hide hidden files on mac

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

How to show hidden files 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 AppleShowAllFiles TRUE ; killall Finder

How to hide hidden files 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 AppleShowAllFiles FALSE ; killall Finder

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

  • Question is, how to hide file Files?

    • 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

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

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

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

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


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

      • 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.

      • 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).

  • THANK YOU! Man this has been driving me nuts!

  • Just install Yosemite and it doesn’t work!!

    “defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -boolean false ; killall Finder”

    I still view all hidden files!

    • Try the following steps:

      – Press “cmd + spacebar” (Opens Spotlight)
      – Type “terminal” and then press the return/enter key
      – Paste “defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -boolean false ; killall Finder” into Terminal.
      – You should not see any file or folder that begins with a dot “.” i.e. a hidden file/folder.

      I have attached some images to help. 🙂

      • It didn’t work, I got to erase in ~/Library/Preferences/

  • Faizan Ather

    i am unable unhide files on my mac YOSEMITE . on 2011 pro

  • john

    Hi – it still doesn’t work. I’m grateful to you for showing the screenshots, but I – we – are definitely telling you: it doesn’t work in for us in Yosemite. Perhaps there are permissions issues in Yosemite for some users, but it will not work for me – not plainly, not even using sudo.

    There is definitely an issue for some of us in Yosemite – I don’t know “Marc Cabana” above, but I’m saying the same thing as he has: this method doesn’t work even with the screenshots. We follow the exact steps and yet we still can’t see hidden files.

    Please, update your advice (it is SO frustrating to keep being told “this works” when it doesn’t – and guys like me feel like we’re being treated like idiots when we say “it doesn’t work” and we’re told “here are some screenshots” or “here are the instructions again but now on different lines”).

    Sometimes the person who says “it doesn’t work” is right – they’ve followed all the steps, they’ve tried it several times, and the instructions are incorrect. I’m typing this on a MacBook Pro which I literally only unboxed 12 hours ago – it’s so new, I’ve not even set up my Finder columns how I like them. So, a brand new Yosemite-installed MacBook Pro will not show me hidden files. I am going to try Marc’s method, of deleting the plist file. Looks like there’s gonna need to be some new advice for how to show hidden files.

    • David_Arditti

      I found this as well on Yosemite. The instructions for Terminal will not work unless you also delete the file

  • dannyR

    Thanks. That was a lot easier than all the other song and dance YES didn’t work but _____ did, it doesn’t work in _________, etc. yadda, yadda.

  • I see hidden files in Finder but not in the dialogue box of Filezilla. Trying to add my SSH Key. Can’t get that to show outside of Finder directly.