How to View Hidden Files on Mac

How to See Hidden Files on Mac?

Unlike Windows, Apple has hidden some files in Mac, and for a good reason. Most of the average users won’t need to access these files, but some would. The average user also doesn’t know how to view these hidden files.  

The main hidden files are actually located in a hidden folder named ~/Library. Typically, hidden file names have a period or dot before at the beginning of the name. Keep in mind that these hidden files are important and should not be deleted.  

Why Does Apple Hide Some Files on Mac? 

Some files and folders are, by default, hidden. The reason behind this is that Apple wants to prevent users from accidentally deleting these files. As these files are linked with macOS, and consequently the proper functioning of your device, deleting them can result in system issues.  

Therefore, keeping these files hidden even if you know how to show them is a better choice.  

See Hidden Files on Mac with Finder 

This is a pretty easy and straightforward method for seeing hidden files in a folder. Here’s how you do it: 

  • Launch Finder and go into the folder where you want the hidden files to show 
  • Press Command + Shift + . (period key) simultaneously.  
  • You will see hidden files in the folder with the icons appearing translucent. 

Pressing the same three keys again sends the files into hiding.  

See Hidden Files on Mac with Terminal 

You can also use the Mac Terminal (the command prompt on Mac devices) to view hidden files in a folder. Obviously, it’s not as easy as the last method.  

Here are the steps: 

  • Launch Terminal by typing terminal in the search bar (it’s also available in the menu in Applications > Utilities ) 
  • Type defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles true and press Enter. 

Hidden files on Mac using Terminal

  • Now, type killall Finder and press Enter.  

Now, you can go to Finder and access the folders, and they shall show all the hidden files as well.  

If you want to hide those files again, go to Terminal, and follow these steps: 

  • Type write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles false and press Enter. 
  • Now, type killall Finder and press Enter.  

Terminal can also be used to hide files if you want to hide a file that’s already visible for everyone using the Mac device.  

Simply launch the terminal and write chflags hidden and press Enter. Now, drag and drop the file you want to hide onto the Terminal screen. Press Enter and the file will be hidden from view.  

To show it, just follow any of the two methods above.  

How to See the Hidden ~/Library Folder on Mac? 

We already mentioned that one of the important hidden folders is ~/Library. While you know how to see hidden files, you don’t yet know where this particular folder is found.  

It’s actually located in the Home folder, but on recent Macs, Home folder is often named the actual name of the device. So that makes it a little difficult to locate.  

That said, if you want to find the hidden ~/Library folder, the process is pretty simple. You don’t even have to press the Command + Shift + . (period key). Here’s how: 

  • Launch Finder 
  • Click on Go from the menu 
  • Choose Go to Folder or press Shift + Command + G. 
  • Type ~/Library into the text box and select Go.  

Select Library on Mac

This method makes the Library folder appear in the Home folder or whatever it is called on your device.  

If you can’t find this home folder, launch Finder and press Command + Shift + H.  

See Hidden Files on Mac with Third-Party Apps 

Some third-party file manager apps also have this capability, i.e., making hidden files on Mac visible. One such app is ForkLift 

However, finding hidden apps is super easy on its own; it’s recommended to do it with the methods above rather than downloading third-party software for the purpose.  

Conclusion 

Now that you know several ways of showing hidden files on Mac, you can easily access these files. Keep in mind that deleting any of these files can harm your system and may even require technical intervention, which can be costly.  

Only view them when you absolutely need to, for example, for fixing a problem with the system.  

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