How to Show Hidden Files on Mac

You want to show hidden files on the Mac – such as the mysterious Library folder – to fix a problem on your Mac? That’s how it’s done. Thousands of files and folders are hidden on your Mac so you can not interfere. However, sometimes you need to access these files.

You may want to change something after a tip you’ve seen on MacWorld. You may be fixing a program and have been asked to delete a settings file or find a log file, which would help fix the problem. Some Mac users may want to remove some of these hidden files because they take up valuable disk space.

How to Show Hidden Files on Mac

You want to display hidden files in the Finder of your Mac? Then just follow our step-by-step guide. So that users can not accidentally damage the system, Apple has hidden important files and folders on the Mac. However, you can easily view these system files if you ever need them. We show you how it works.

Show Hidden Files on Mac

But beware: changing or corrupting these hidden system files can have serious consequences for the entire operating system!

Show hidden files with keyboard shortcut

The easiest way to fade in the hidden files is to use the keyboard shortcut [cmd] + [Shift] + [.] . Just go to a Finder folder and hit the shortcut. The hidden files will appear. They are recognizable as being slightly paler than the other files. To hide the hidden files, simply press the keyboard shortcut [cmd] + [Shift] + [.] .

Show hidden files through the terminal

You can also enter a command in the terminal to display all hidden files in the entire Finder at the same time. Follow our step-by-step guide or take a look at the quick guide .

Step 1:

Open the terminal first . The quickest way to do this is through the Spotlight search . To do this, click on the small magnifying glass in the top right corner of the menu bar and enter ” Terminal “. With a double click on the corresponding result, the terminal opens.

Step 2:

Now enter the command defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -bool TRUE and confirm with [ Enter ]. Then you have to reload the Finder, this works with the command killall Finder , which you confirm with [ Enter ].

Step 3:

The Finder will now show you the hidden files. They are recognizable by the fact that they are a bit paler than the rest of the files.

Step 1:

To hide the hidden files, go back to the terminal and enter the commands defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -bool FALSE and killall Finder and confirm again with [ Enter ].

Quick guide: Display hidden files via the terminal

  1. Open the terminal via the Spotlight search .
  2. Then enter the command defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -bool TRUE and confirm with [ Enter ].
  3. To restart the Finder, then enter the command killall Finder killall Finder and confirm again with [ Enter ].
  4. The hidden files will appear in the Finder.
  5. To hide the files again, enter the commands defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -bool FALSE and killall Finder in the terminal.

Show hidden files on Mac with shortcuts

In this article we explain how to find these hidden files and folders, including the most frequently searched for folder: the mysterious ~ / Library folder.

Which files are hidden on a Mac?

Under Unix and its derivatives like macOS will hidden files. Preceded by (dot) – so they are not displayed in any normal file list. This can be, for example, a .htaccess file, a .bash_profile or a .svn directory. Folders like / usr, / bin and / etc are also hidden.

The most hidden folder you want to access is the Library (~ / Library) folder. Your personal application support files, and in some cases, data, are stored here.

Why are some files and folders hidden?

Some of these folders and files are considered too confusing for most users, so they are hidden. While you can be sure you know what you are doing on your Mac, there are many Mac users who could cause damage or data loss, such as manipulating files in the library.

Where is the library folder of my Mac?

If you wanted to access the Library folder prior to the release of OS X Lion in 2011, you can simply open your Home folder and view the Library folder there. This folder is still in Home, but it is now hidden.

You may have just searched your Macintosh HD folder and thought you had seen the Library folder, but that is not the Library folder in question. Because there are actually three library folders on the Mac.

The Library folder contains files that are accessible to all users but can only be changed by administrators. Then there is the folder ~ / Library, which is located in your home folder. The third library folder is in the system and contains all the files that MacOS needs to run.

The key features of these three library folders in comparison:

To display the ~ / Library folder of a Mac

There are three ways to display your hidden ~ / Library / folder.

In macOS Sierra, Apple has added a Finder keyboard shortcut that allows you to quickly see all hidden files and folders. You just have to do the following:

  1. Open the Finder
  2. Go to your Macintosh HD folder (accessed via devices in the left column).
  3. Command key (⌘) Shift key (⇧) and period (.)
  4. All hidden files become visible.
  5. Command key (⌘) Shift key (⇧) and dot (.) Also hide the files.

The easiest way to find your hidden ~ / Library / Folder is to do the following:

  1. Open the Finder
  2. Hold down Alt (Option) and select the Go To menu at the top of the screen.
  3. You will see the ~ / Library folder under the Home folder.

Alternatively, you can do the following:

  1. Open the Finder
  2. Select “Go to” in the menu bar.
  3. Choose Go to Folder (or Shift + Cmd + G)
  4. Type ~ / Library in the text box and click “Open.”

You can now see and access the contents of the ~ / Library that was not previously visible.

To keep the hidden folder ~ / Library visible

If you follow the second and third methods above the ~ / Library, it will remain visible until you close the Finder window. It will be gone again next time. If you follow the first method in macOS High Sierra, the hidden files and folders remain visible until you press Command (⌘) Shift (⇧) and Dot (.) A second time.

If you are using a pre-sierra version of macOS, there are ways to keep the ~ / Library hidden folder visible. The easiest way is to drag the hidden library icon from the Finder window to the Finder sidebar. This makes it accessible even after the finder has closed.

Alternatively, you can also create an alias for the library folder that you can access from your desktop. To create an alias for your Library folder:

  1. Open the ~ / Library folder in the Finder
  2. Hold down Cmd + Alt and drag the Library Folder icon from the Finder window onto your desktop.

To display hidden folders with the terminal

Another way to make hidden files and folders visible is to use the Terminal program.

  1. Open the Termimal
  2. Run the following commands:

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles true

killall Finder

If you want to switch it back, just change “true” to “false”.

Show hidden files on mac with in Finder

Hidden files can be viewed in the Finder. These files are invisible for a good reason, but you have to access them. The uncovering works simply by keyboard shortcut.

Show hidden files

  1. Go to a Finder window.
  2. Hold down the [Cmd] key and the Shift key.
  3. Press the button for the point.
  4. If there are hidden files in the current Finder, they will now be displayed. To distinguish normal files, their names have a gray color.

This view remains until you  press the key combination  [Cmd – Shift -.]Again. The conversion also applies system-wide. So if you open another Finder window via [Cmd – N] , the hidden files will be visible.

For example, this feature is useful if you want to retrieve such files from a Time Machine backup . If you want to restore your Firefox profile from a backup, for example, then this works only with this gimmick, because the path for the profile folder in the hidden folder “Library” is inside your user directory.

That’s why files are invisible

The fact that the operating system of your Mac hides some files and directories has a protective function. It is intended to prevent you from modifying, deleting or moving files in the Finder that are necessary for the operation of the computer.

So before you start uncovering these hidden files, you should realize that you are really only changing things that you are sure of.

Reveal invisible files in older MacOS versions

The key combination shown works only from version 10.12 (Sierra). If you have an older version, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Start a terminal window, for example via Programs – Utilities – Terminal .
  2. Enter there:

defaults write  AppleShowAllFiles true

  1. For the change to take effect, hold the [Alt] key and right-click on the Finder icon in the Dock.
  2. From the displayed menu select the entry Restart .
  3. To undo the changes, enter the above command, but use false instead of true at the end :

defaults write  AppleShowAllFiles false


How to Show Hidden Files on Mac
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