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.
- Mar 21, 2018 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. Many of these files are in your Mac’s main Library folder or in the /Library folder, which is in your.
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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.
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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.
Show All Files Mac
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:
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- 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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If you want to see hidden files and folders on Mac computer, you can check the 3 ways below to easily show hidden files and folders on macOS incl. Mojave/Catalina/High Sierra. To recover deleted/lost files on Mac or other storage devices, you can try MiniTool software.
Like Windows operating system (related: show hidden files on Windows 10), macOS also hides some files and folders from users to avoid some important files from be mistakenly deleted or damaged. If you need to show these hidden files and folders on Mac, you have several ways to do this. You can check the detailed guide below.
Way 1. Show Hidden Files Mac with Keyboard Shortcut
You can use keyboard shortcut to easily show hidden files and hide them on Mac. In Finder, you can press Command + Shift + .Editing apps to make pictures like mac demarco singing. to show hidden files. If you want to hide those files again, you can press this shortcut again. This method applies to macOS Sierra or higher.
Way 2. Unhide Files on Mac with Terminal
You can also use Terminal commands to show hidden files in Mac operating system.
- You can open Terminal from Launchpad or open it from Finder -> Applications -> Utilities.
- Type the following command in Terminal window, and hit Return key: defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES.
- To hide the files again, you can type defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles NO.
Way 3. Check Hidden Files on Mac with Finder
- You can open Finder, hold on Alt (Option) key and click Go icon at the toolbar.
- Click Library in the drop-down list, and you can see the hidden contents of ~/Library.
Aside from using the three methods above to show hidden files on Mac Mojave/Catalina/High Sierra, you can also use a Mac data recovery software to recover and see hidden files on Mac.
Learn how to show hidden files/folders in USB or SD card, and how to recover hidden files USB, pen drive, memory card with best USB/SD card recovery software.
How to Recover Deleted/Lost/Hidden Files on Mac
MiniTool Mac Data Recovery, a top data recovery program for macOS 10.5 and higher, enables you to easily recover lost or deleted files from Mac hard drive in 3 simple steps.
You can use MiniTool Mac Data Recovery to recover any kind of file on Mac computer, external hard drive, USB flash drive, SD card, memory card, SSD, and more. It even supports restoring data from a corrupted or formatted hard drive.
Get MiniTool Mac Data Recovery and use it to recover files, documents, photos, videos, any other files on your Mac computer, etc.
Step 1. After you download and install MiniTool Mac Data Recovery, you can launch it to enter into its main interface. Then you can select a data recovery mode on the main UI.
You can choose Undelete Recovery, Damaged Partition Recovery, Lost Partition Recovery, Digital Media Recovery based on your own need.
Step 2. Next you can choose the hard drive or partition where you lost or deleted some files, and click Scan button. This stellar data recovery software for Mac will start scanning all the data on the selected device.
Step 3. Wait until the scan process finishes. You can see all detected files incl. deleted/lost/hidden files are displayed in the scan result window. You can browse the scan result to find your needed files and click Save button to store the recovered files to a new location.
This post introduces three ways to help you show hidden files on Mac Mojave/Catalina/High Sierra. You can also use the professional data recovery software for Mac to recover hidden files on Mac as well as retrieve deleted/lost files on Mac or other storage devices with ease.