How to access the hidden files on your Mac computer

The folders, libraries, and files in your computer’s back end are crucial to the operation of the OS. Any of these files are crucial to the operation of the system, and if you remove or relocate them, disaster may ensue. And that’s why, unless you really know what you’re doing, we strongly advise against tinkering with them.

These files can be found in Windows’s File Explorer, where missteps and modifications are common. Apple has made it so that many of these files are hidden in macOS by default to stop users from doing the same thing. As a result, your computer is safe from harm, but using it becomes more difficult.

On a Mac, you can access these concealed files with Finder or the Terminal programme. Keep in mind that there are only a few times when you actually need to modify these files (moving a programme directory or troubleshooting drivers), and that there are other techniques to free up space on your hard disc.

Look Inside Finder’s Hidden Documents

mac show hidden file

When using Finder, go to the Drives menu, choose your hard drive, and then select the Macintosh HD folder. The secret folders can be viewed by pressing Command + Shift +. (period). The same holds true for your Documents, Applications, and Desktop directories.

You can still take a look inside any grayed-out areas that indicate areas your computer doesn’t want you to tamper with. When you’re finished, you may make the folders invisible again by pressing Command + Shift +. (period). This will prevent future inadvertent modifications.

In addition to the Finder’s top menu, the /Library folder is also accessible directly from the file system. When you select Go, your computer will display a list of all the internal hard drive folders and a shortcut to them. If you press and hold the Option key, however, an additional menu item called “Library” will appear, though there will be no obvious shortcut to it. Select Library from the menu to examine the files in the /Library directory.

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Open Confidential Files with Terminal

The macOS Terminal software provides a text-based interface to the computer’s operating system and can be used for this purpose as well. Launchpad > Other > Terminal is where you’ll find Terminal. Once there, type in the following commands:

  • The Default Types type Type AppleShowAllFiles true and hit Enter.
  • Simply hit the “killall Finder” key.

When both lines of code are executed, you’ll be able to access your previously hidden files in Finder and any recently created temporary files on the desktop. When you’re ready to reveal the files again, just swap the true value with the false one, as shown below.

  • The Default Types create Replace true with false and hit Enter in Apple’s Show All Files menu.
  • Press the enter key and type “killall Finder.”

Although it’s less obvious, you can also use Terminal to conceal specific files and directories without having to go through Finder. If you have sensitive files that are password protected or you simply don’t want other people using your Mac to be able to access certain files, this is a great feature to have. Throw open Terminal and enter:

  • chflags protected [Tap Space].
  • You can reveal a hidden file’s location by dragging it into the Terminal window.
  • To make the file invisible, press the Enter key.

Naturally, anyone may locate these files using the aforementioned ways, therefore this is not a replacement for file encryption or other appropriate security measures.

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Learn how To Unhide Files in Mac’s Terminal

mac show hidden file

  • In case you haven’t heard of it before, Terminal is a command line interface that gives you complete command of your computer.
  • Those who aren’t familiar with it may not see the point in trying. However, if you have experience with the Mac Terminal, you may find this method to be more expedient:
  • Launch Terminal (if you haven’t already done so, you can do so by clicking the launchpad and searching for Terminal).