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How to see hidden Mac files

Maybe not everyone knows it, but MacOS, the Mac operating system, hides all files starting with a dot from view of users. I often have to access files that start with a dot on my Mac, but by default I can't see those files. This commits you to finding ways to make them visible so you can work, but not everyone knows how. I have this requirement when for example I have to open the file .htaccess of my server, which as you can see begins with a dot. Fortunately, seeing hidden Mac files is very simple and in this guide will explain how to do it.

When you find out how to do it, you can decide to leave this feature enabled forever or enable it only when you need it, like I do, to keep the files on the Mac in order. Now, if you want to know how to see hidden Mac files, continue to read this guide.

How to see hidden Mac files

This procedure works on all Macs and with all versions of the operating system, even the most dated. No need to install external apps, as everything you need is pre-installed on your Mac, ready to be used. Here is how to see hidden Mac files:

  • The first thing you need to do is start the app Terminal. If you don't know how to do it, find it in Applications -> UtilityTerminal.
  • Now copy the following command, paste it into the Terminal and press enter.
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles -boolean true ; killall Finder 

At this point you will be able to see all the hidden files on your Mac. At a graphic level, the icon of a hidden file has a slight transparency compared to a file that is not hidden.

This particularity, which from an operational point of view does not involve anything as it can be used regularly, will help you identify this type of file more easily.

How to hide hidden Mac files

After you have finished using the hidden files on your Mac, you can decide to hide them from view again. Follow the steps below to see how to hide them.

  • Open the Terminal.
  • Copy the following command, paste it into the Terminal and press enter on the keyboard.
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles -boolean false ; killall Finder 

After giving the confirmation, you will no longer be able to see hidden Mac files.

Whenever you need to view these files, you will need to follow these simple steps. In order not to perform these procedures every time, you can decide to leave the display of hidden files active, and they will appear in a lighter color. Personally I don't recommend it, because in doing so you would see all the files that MacOS generates to keep the folders in order and this could be very annoying.