Show Hidden Files Mac Lion App
Your Mac has a secret. Thousands of them in fact, in the form of hidden files and folders lurking on its hard drive or SSD. Don’t worry, though. These files and folders are all supposed to be there. In fact, many of them are essential.
Show Hidden Files for Mac is available as freeware with advertisements for other programs displayed initially, but these can be disabled or enabled easily from the main drop down menu.
Many of these files are in your Mac’s main Library folder or in the ~/Library folder, which is in your User folder. Both these Library folders are hidden, but inside them are folders and files that hold things like preferences for apps.
In this article, we’ll tell you how you can view hidden files on your Mac and make your Library folder visible.
What are the hidden files on Mac?
The hidden files are a throwback to macOS’ Unix roots. In fact, the convention of naming them starting with a “.” comes from Unix. For that reason, you can’t use a “.” at the start of a regular file name, otherwise OS X will hide it.
The files themselves contain data like access rights and privileges for files and folders, application support files, and preferences.
There are a number of reasons files and folders are hidden. Mostly, though, it’s because they contain data critical to the smooth running of your Mac and that you shouldn’t interfere with. In addition, there’s no real reason for most users to see or access them. Also, if they were all visible, your Mac would look horribly cluttered.
How to view hidden files on Mac
Before you make your Mac show hidden files, it’s important to remember they’ve been hidden for a reason. The data they contain could cause havoc if you delete or alter it and don’t know what you’re doing.
If your goal in viewing, for example ~/Library is so you can manually delete application support files for a program you’ve uninstalled, consider using a dedicated uninstaller like CleanMyMac X. That will make it easy to remove all the files associated with an application with one click. You can download CleanMyMac X for free here.
CleanMyMac X will also allow you to get rid of all the hidden files you no longer need. Many of these files are created and used then not needed anymore. They just sit there clogging up your hard drive. CleanMyMac X scans your Mac, identifies this system junk and allows you to quickly and easily get rid of it, potentially several gigabytes of disk space.
If you still want to view hidden files on your Mac, you need to go to the Finder and do the following:
- Open a new Finder window and click on the name of your Mac under ‘Devices’ in the sidebar.
- Click on Macintosh HD, or whatever you’ve called your startup drive if you’ve renamed it.
- Press Command-Shift-. (period). You should now see lots of files and folders who’s name starts with “.” become visible.
- To re-hide the files and folders, hold down Command-Shift-. again.
How to view your Mac’s ~/Library folder
There are a couple of methods for making your ~/Library folder visible. Here’s the simplest:
- Click on the Finder in the Dock.
- Open a new Finder window and navigate to your user folder (Tip: if it’s not in the sidebar, go to the Finder menu, choose Preferences, click Sidebar and check the box next to your Home folder)
- Click on the Go menu.
- Hold down the Option (Alt) key.
- You should see that in the dropdown menu, Library appears below Home. Click on it.
Alternatively, do this to view your Library folder:
- Click on the Finder in the Dock.
- Click on the Go menu and choose Go to Folder.
- In the window that opens, type “~/Library”
With both these methods, your Library folder will disappear again when you close the Finder window. It’s easy enough to run through the steps above again to make it visible again when you need to, but if you want it permanently accessible, there are a couple of ways to do it.
The quickest is to drag the Library folder to the Finder’s sidebar. That will create a shortcut to it that will persist. If you want to keep ~/Library visible but don’t want it clogging up the sidebar in Finder windows, do this:
- Click on the Finder in the Dock.
- Click on the View menu and choose Show View Options.
- Check the box labelled Show Library Folder at the bottom of the window.
How to make macOS show hidden files using Terminal
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can use the Terminal command line interface to view hidden files and folders. Here’s how to do it:
- Open Terminal from the Utilities folder in Applications, or by searching for it using Spotlight. You can also use the Go menu in the Finder to go directly to the Utilities folder.
- Type, or copy and paste, this command: defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles true
- Press Return
- Type: killall Finder
To hide the files again, repeat the above steps, but replace ‘true’ with ‘false’ at the end of step 2.
How to hide any file or folder using Terminal
Now that you know how to view hidden files and folders on your Mac, you may be wondering how you can hide other files or folders, to keep them away from prying eyes. There are a number of third-party applications and utilities that offer to do this for you, but you can do it yourself in Terminal, like this:
- Launch Terminal.
- Type: chflags hidden
- Press the spacebar.
- Drag the file or folder you want to hide from the Finder onto the Terminal window.
- You’ll see the path to the file or folder displayed in Terminal after the command you typed.
- Hit Return to execute the command.
The file or folder you dragged onto the Terminal window will now be hidden. To see it again, use one of the methods described above to see hidden files.
To make the file visible permanently again, use the steps above, but in step 2 type: chflags nohidden
As you can see, viewing hidden files and folders on your Mac is very straightforward. There are a number of ways to do it, and you can make them visible temporarily or permanently.
However, just because you can view hidden files, doesn’t mean you should — the files are usually hidden because accidentally deleting them or altering them could cause chaos on your Mac. So, while it’s fine to have a peek, don’t do anything with the hidden files unless you know what you’re doing.
If you want to declutter your Mac or uninstall applications, use a dedicated application like CleanMyMac X. It will safely remove all useless files, add-ons, broken login items, caches, large and old files you didn't know about. Most likely, you won't even need to look for hidden files — CleanMyMac will do all the job for you.
We also showed that many of those files are stored in Library folders, including the one in your User folder, ~/Library. That folder is hidden by default, but you can view it or make it permanently visible using the techniques described above.
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When you look at your desktop, or inside any folder for that matter, on your Mac you’ll see a number (one that will vary depending on how well-organized you are) of file and folder icons. What all of us have in common, however, is a huge range of system files that are hidden just out of view.
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Those of us who have lived online for long enough will remember the Delete System32 hoax, with which trolls encouraged naive PC users to delete their Windows 2000 system directory. It’s not a shock that, since those days, developers have taken more care to hide away files that are essential to their operating systems.
There are, however, times when you need to access those files. Most of them are hidden away in the ~/Library folder, but the truth is that the average Mac holds a treasure trove of files and folders that you either no longer need or may want to access for troubleshooting purposes.
Is it normal that 'System' takes up 90GB+ of storage? What does it contain? How to get your System folder under control?
Three Ways to See Hidden Files on Mac
There’s good news for anyone out there who’s looking to access hidden files on their Mac: you can do exactly that, in a number of different ways, by arming yourself with a little bit of knowledge. There are a couple of Finder augmentation and replacement apps, for example, that make the process as easy as clicking a single button.
Before kicking off, however, it’s important to highlight that you should play it safe when digging through hidden files on your laptop or desktop. Unless you know exactly what you’re looking for you can do some serious damage to your operating system, so you’ll want to proceed with caution. After all, these files are hidden for a reason!
See hidden files on Mac via Finder
As mentioned above, it doesn’t take much to make the hidden files on your Mac visible. In fact, you can check out all of the hidden files on your Mac by following just three easy steps:
- In Finder, open up your Macintosh HD folder
- Press Command+Shift+Dot
- Your hidden files will become visible. Repeat step 2 to hide them again!
This process will also work elsewhere, including your Documents or Applications folders. However, if you know what you’re looking for is in your ~/Library folder and would rather jump straight into that then you can take the following steps instead:
- In Finder, hold down Alt and click Go at the top of your screen
- Click on Library to open up the, normally hidden, folder
Be prepared for one very cluttered looking Desktop if you decide to uncover all the hidden files there. If you’re anything like the average Mac user, most of what you’ll find will be made up of system files and autosaved Microsoft Word documents!
Some users have reported success finding documents that they thought were lost forever after their Mac crashed without saving, which is always a useful tip to have in the back pocket.
Unhide files on Mac with Terminal commands
Terminal, a Mac command-line interface, is included in macOS by default and allows you to use command prompts to control your Mac instead of following a potentially complex series of instructions to do the same thing in Finder.
If you’re already familiar with using Terminal, then you might prefer to run the following script to reveal your hidden files:
- Open Terminal
- Enter the following: defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles true [Press Return] killall Finder
- To hide files again, change the “true” in the step above to “false”
It doesn’t matter too much whether you use Terminal or Finder to make the hidden files on your Mac visible, though you might prefer the latter if you’ve never run scripts on Terminal before, as both routes accomplish the same thing.
One reason you might opt to use Terminal is that it allows you to hide any file or folder on your Mac, which is a great way to avoid that sense of residual curiosity felt by others should they come across a password protected .rar on your desktop! To hide files, just:
- Open Terminal
- Enter the following: chflags hidden [Press Space]
- Drag files or folders to be hidden from Finder into the Terminal window, which will display their paths in Terminal
- Press Return to hide
To make your files visible again, just repeat the above steps using “chflags nohidden” in place of “chflags hidden.” Of course, the fact that anyone else who knows this trick can also use it to unhide your files means that this isn’t an adequate substitute for other security measures.
Use file managers to access hidden files
How to find the path of a file in Mac? Apps like DCommander and Forklift, both of which perform like native macOS apps and function as extensions of Finder, represent great choices if you’re at all uncomfortable using Terminal or digging around in your ~/Library folder.
Because these apps allow you to make hidden files and folders visible (or invisible) using shortcuts or clicking buttons within the apps, they make the whole process incredibly simple. In Forklift, for example, you can show hidden files by:
- Clicking View
- Selecting View Options towards the bottom of the dropdown menu
- Checking the box next to Show Hidden Files
There’s also a button in the toolbar to show and hide hidden files. DCommander has a similar function available, with a Show System Files command, but you need to add it manually to the app’s toolbar:
As you might guess from those subtle differences in terminology, we would suggest that Forklift is more suitable for someone looking for something that really looks and acts like Finder. DCommander, with a larger range of features and toolbar buttons enabled by default, is still intuitive but feels a little more dense.
Whichever you settle on remember that just because these apps make accessing hidden files easy it doesn’t mean that you can’t do some real damage if you start messing around with the wrong thing!
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For some Mac users, the question of how to see hidden files is nothing more than succumbing to curiosity. For others, it’s a necessity for troubleshooting a piece of software or device that’s not performing as it should.
Somewhere in between are those in the pursuit of a few spare gigabytes as their hard drive rapidly fills up. If you’re one of those people looking to clean up useless hidden data then an app like CleanMyMac X might be exactly what you need:
- Open up the app and select Smart Scan
- Hit Scan
- Select Review Details underneath Cleanup to see how much System Junk you can safely delete
- Hit Run to remove those unneeded files
An app like CleanMyMac X will free up space just as effectively, probably more so, than you’ll be able to by randomly deleting hidden files and hoping for the best. If you do end up going this route then don’t consider learning more about hidden content a waste of time — at least you know what to watch out for if someone tries to troll you into deleting vital system files!
Show Hidden Files Mac Lion App Download
Best of all, DCommander, Forklift, and CleanMyMac X apps mentioned above are all available for a free trial through Setapp, a collection of more than 150 macOS apps from top developers all over the world.
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