Show hidden files on Mac

Oryna Lienkova
Apple certified support professional
May 4, 2023
9 minutes to read
There are four possible methods how to show hidden files on a Mac:

  1. Show hidden files using Funter
  2. Show hidden files using a special keyboard shortcut
  3. Show hidden files using Terminal
  4. Show hidden files using AppleScript

Like any operating system, macOS keeps important files hidden to prevent them from being accidentally deleted and, as a result, from system damage. However, in some cases, you may need to reveal hidden data on your Mac, for example, to explore the hidden Library folder and clear old logs, caches or other system junk. This article provides step-by-step guides on how to show hidden folders and files on Mac computer.

Firstly, let’s see the easiest way to show and reveal hidden files on your Mac. Use a free application called Funter for this:

Video Guide: How to use Funter to see hidden items

What are hidden files on Mac?

Hidden files on a computer are files that are kept invisible from the users. You can recognize hidden files by their name and icon type. Firstly, hidden file names begin with a dot (or period). Secondly, the file icon is translucent.

Hidden files are invisible


Hidden files are visible


MacOS creates hidden files that are needed for the system to operate. Applications also create hidden files, such as cache files, logs, preferences, etc. Most of them are located in the hidden Library folder. These files are not visible for security reasons and to keep them separate from files created and used by the user. However, not all hidden files are necessary and many of them you can safely remove.

When deleting hidden files on Mac, you should be careful and not remove important data, that as a result can damage your system. If you accidentally remove system files to Trash, you have chances to recover them. For this, you need to right-click the file in Trash and select Put back. If for some reasons, you can’t recover files from Trash or you have already emptied the bin, the only chance to recover them is to use third-party data recovery software.

Now. let’s see how to show and operate such files on Mac operating system.


How to find hidden files on Mac with Funter

The easiest way to manage this task is to use the free Funter application.
Funter allows you to find, hide, and search for hidden files on your Mac in just a few clicks.

For this follow the steps below:

  1. Launch Funter.
  2. Click Funter’s icon in the menu bar.
  3. Switch on the toggle button. Done!
  4. Open Finder. There you will see your hidden items.
Funter window


How to view hidden files on Mac using a shortcut

You can use a special keyboard shortcut to see all invisible items on your Mac.
Here is how to view them:

  1. Activate the Finder application.
  2. Open a folder which may contain such files.
  3. Press the Command + Shift + Period (CMD+Shift+.) shortcut.
  4. Preview all the files you have in the active folder.
  5. Repeat the steps given above again if you want to hide the files again.

Please note, that even if you see all kinds of files with this method, it`s not possible to find them using Spotlight search.
If you need to find hidden files by their names we recommend using Funter.
Funter can find any hidden folder or file on Mac just by entering their names and pressing Enter to find them.


Vieweing hidden files with Mac Terminal

Terminal is a command-line application that allows you to manage your Mac using low-level commands. To operate the app correctly, you will need to be familiar with the Terminal app commands.
To show latent files on a Mac using the command line, follow these steps:

  1. Open Terminal from Launchpad.
  2. Copy and paste the following command into the Mac Terminal window:
    defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -bool true
  3. Click the Enter button.
  4. Enter the next command to relaunch the Finder application.
    killall Finder
  5. Click Enter to finish.
Terminal app and Finder showing hidden items

This command will restart the Finder and then you will see hidden files and folders on your Mac.
If you want to hide the files again, you simply repeat the operation but change the last word in the first command to “false”. So, you should perform these two commands to make the files invisible again:
defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -bool false
killall Finder

Hide files with Terminal

How to show hidden folders and files using AppleScript

AppleScript is a language developed to help you automate repetitive or time-consuming Mac actions.
You can also make files visible using AppleScript. Generally, AppleScripts are created within the Script Editor tool.
Follow these steps to show hidden data with AppleScript command:

  1. Open the Script Editor application from LaunchPad.
  2. Copy and paste the following code into the editor’s window:

    display dialog "Would you like to show hidden files?" buttons {"Show Hidden Files", "Hide Files"}
    set result to button returned of result
    if result is equal to "Show Hidden Files" then
    do shell script "defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -bool true"
    do shell script "defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -bool false"
    end if
    do shell script "killall Finder"

  3. Click the Run button.
  4. Save this file to use it later.
Apple Script window - show hidden files script

Each time you need to hide or show latent files and folders, just open this script file and click the Run button.

Viewing hidden files on Mac external hard drive

The Funter application, that we mentioned above, supports any disk volume. So with Funter, you can find and display hidden files on external storage. Here is how:

  1. Launch Funter.
  2. Turn on showing hidden files.

Generally, you can use two ways to make Apple hidden files visible.

Use the Quick Access Window 

Switcher button in Funter to show hidden files

Use the Finder Toolbar

Finder with Funter's icon

As soon as you turn on showing hidden data, Finder will be relaunched and you will see all the hidden files stored on your drive. Finder with hidden folders on USB drive highlighted

Funter is a great tool for finding invisible files and folders. If you need to find a specific file on your disk, follow the steps below:

  1. In the Funter window, type the file’s name and click Enter on your keyboard. In our case, we used just a “dot” because all hidden files’ names begin with a dot. Go to Folder search field in Finder
  2. Funter will show you the results. Click the Three dots button and in the Finder window select your drive. Then click to Open. Funter app window showing the results
  3. You will get a list of all files on the selected drive with the appropriate name/sign. Enable the option to view only hidden files and operate the files. Funter app window

Also, you can find any hidden file by its name. Use the search panel to reveal files that Spotlight cannot do.

So what is the easiest way to show hidden files on Mac?

You can display them on your Mac computer using the Funter app, an AppleScript, a Terminal command or a keyboard shortcut.

If you are looking for the easiest solution to manage your hidden folders and files you may want to use the free Funter tool. Funter will give you access to all invisible data but also will help you to search for files by names. More importantly, it can make essential data invisible to prevent its accidental removal.

As Funter integrates with Finder, you can change the visibility file right in a Finder window using a special icon menu. showing hidden files in Finder

Also, you can hide and unhide files with Funter in Finder using the context menu. unhide files

The best thing about Funter is that the application is absolutely free.

Podcast: How to show hidden files on Mac

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