Show hidden files on a Mac

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There are LOTS of hidden files on a Mac.

Mac’s hidden files are well-known file types to web designers and developers. For everyone else, files starting with a period are not visible in Mac’s Finder or Desktop by default. This file type is a hidden file.

Many web development applications automatically show hidden files. For instance, you will see hidden files in the folder structure of Visual Studio Code. VS Code is my favorite editor, and it’s Free and Opensource.

You will see hidden files in the folder structure of Visual Studio Code on Macs.
Visual Studio Code shows hidden files or files that start with a period. Examples are .env, .gitignore, .ruby-version or .gitattributes

Similarly, Mac FTP clients like FileZilla or Cyberduck also show hidden files on a Mac. An FTP client’s setting to show hidden files is very useful because it lets users quickly access important files like a .htaccess file. To point out, starting with a period, the .htaccess file is not visible by default in Mac’s Finder.

Example of a hidden file on your Mac being displayed in the FileZilla window.
Example of a hidden file on your Mac being displayed in the FileZilla window.

For this reason, FTP applications are great at showing hidden files on your Mac, but there must be a better way to see system files, right?

Well, you’re right. There is a quick, easy keyboard command to show and hide your Mac’s hidden files.

Hide and Reveal hidden files with Command, Shift and Period keys 

cmd + shift + [.]

To hide the hidden and system files, again, use the same key command.

Example of Mac Finder window, showing and hiding files. Notice there are several files like .project, .cpanel.yml, and .gitignore that are revealed using the key command:  cmd + shift + period
Example of Mac Finder window, showing and hiding files. Notice there are several files like .project, .cpanel.yml, and .gitignore that are revealed using the key command: cmd + shift + period

To repeat, showing and hiding system and hidden files on a Mac is as simple as clicking three keyboard keys.

In conclusion, a Mac keyboard command will show and hide files that start with a period on a Mac. Reveal hidden files on your Apple computer’s Desktop and Finder windows by using the cmd + shift + period keyboard shortcut.

About the author

Kelly Barkhurst

Designer to Fullstack is my place to geek out and to share tech solutions from my day-to-day as a designer, programmer, and business owner (portfolio). I also write on Arts and Bricks, a parenting blog and decal shop that embraces my family’s love of Art and LEGO bricks!

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