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How to see all files on Mac (including the hidden ones)

18.10.2021

MacOS keeps some files hidden from users. In most events, this is convenient and sensible, as it helps protect important files from deletion and, as a consequence, damage to the system. However, you may have a problem for which you need to view hidden files mac, for example, for troubleshooting, to completely remove applications, to adjust some system settings, or if you just want to clean up junk files.

How to see hidden files in macOS

Those who prefer to automate any kind of work may want to consider how to view hidden files on mac using a special macro. In order to create it, we will resort to the Script Editor:

  • launch the application for creating scripts;
  • select File -> New in the context menu;
  • in the next window, we need to insert the script code. It looks like this:
    •  set dialogResult to display dialog "Show hidden files..." buttons {"YES", "NO"}
    •  copy the dialogResult as list to {buttonpressed}
    •  if buttonpressed = "YES" then
    •  do shell script "defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles -bool true"
    • else
    •  do shell script "defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles -bool false"
    • end if
    •  do shell script "kill Finder"
  • Save the created macro as an application by going to File ->Save menu!

Now you can display or hide files with one click when you run our created program. For convenience the script can be placed directly in the dock bar.

Using the hotkeys

If you are looking for the easiest method how to show hidden files on mac, this one is definitely for you. This method only appeared in macOS High Sierra, so it won't work on earlier versions of the OS:

  • open the Finder file manager;
  • in the directory you want, press Shift + Command + .(dot)!

Immediately after that, all hidden files mac and folders will be displayed. To switch them off, simply press the above key combination again.

Via the "Terminal" application

Fans of the command line can resort to the old but proven method:

  • launch the Terminal app any way you like;

at the command line window, enter and confirm the command

“defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles YES”

  •  file manager will restart. All hidden files will then be displayed. To hide files again, simply use another command:
  • “defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles NO”

Also, the operating system uses the value of PATH environment variable to locate the desired executable files on the command line or in the terminal window. For example, when we run node, npm or another command in the terminal, it is the PATH variable that tells us where to look for the executable files.

How to find files on your Mac using Finder

You can use the mac finder show hidden files. In fact, you can use Finder shortcuts to quickly display hidden files and folders:

Step 1   Launch the Mac Finder application. Open the Macintosh HD folder in the Devices list.
Step 2 Hold down and press the Command, Shift, and ". (Dot)" on your keyboard.
Step 3 You can show all the files available on your Mac with shortcuts in Finder.
Step 4 You can then tap again the "Command", "Shift", and ". (Dot)" to conceal hidden files on the Mac.

How to find files on your Mac using Spotlight search

Spotlight is a built-in search engine that can search your computer's disc and beyond. Spotlight searches almost instantly. This is achieved by regularly indexing information. The system records data about each file as it is created, modified, copied and also deleted. To search via Spotlight, simply activate the search engine from the menu bar (magnifying glass icon) or use a global shortcut you can specify via Settings (default ⌘Command + ␣Space or ⌃Control + ␣Space). You must then enter a prompt and press ︎Enter.

Mac view hidden files in iCloud

In principle, storing documents in iCloud is convenient, but there's a catch: a document is sort of like a file. More precisely, iCloud is not like a simple file folder. If you have a document in iCloud, then you also have an app or a feature responsible for that document, for instance, iMessages responsible for storing and synchronizing all types of messages across your Apple devices. The problem is that you can't open the Finder and go to an iCloud folder to view your document list there. There are solutions, several at once:

  • Spotlight. If you know the title or content of a document (if it's text), you can simply search for it with Spotlight. If you press "show all in Finder", the documents will have iCloud → File Name path;
  • "My files". This is basically a subset of the previous method. "My files" in Finder is a kind of meta-collection of files arranged by type;
  • Command-Shift-G. All iCloud documents are stored in hidden folder ~/Library/Mobile Documents/.

Where is the Library folder?

The Mac OS has a hidden library folder called Library. It is hidden because it contains settings that are best left untouched by the uninitiated. Removing all or some of these settings will at best can cause you to reinstall certain applications, or at worst cause the entire system to fail and require a complete reinstallation. But sometimes you just need to access the Library. For example, many applications place their backups there, and if you want to back up an application, you need access to that folder anyway. But how to see hidden files on mac Library without damaging the system?

There are two ways to get to the Library for those who are sure not to have some sort of system apocalypse in it:

1. Show Library using the ALT key

§ go to the Finder and scroll down the Navigation menu.

§ you will see that Library is not in the list. To open it, press the Alt key (also called the Option key) at the bottom left of the keyboard. The long-awaited Library will appear.

§ pressing it will take you directly to the folder. But the described method has one disadvantage: If you release your finger from the Alt key, the folder will automatically disappear.

2. Display the folder with the “Go to folder” option;

§ when you press Alt, try to remember the path to the Library folder. It is shown at the top when you are in the folder. Then go back to the Finder's "Navigate" menu and you'll see the "Navigate to Folder" option at the bottom.

§ when you click on it, a window will appear where you can enter the desired path.

Now all you have to do is click "Jump" and you are inside the folder.

How to find System Library

Do be careful when handling library folders and, as a rule, as long as you don't know what it actually does, you should just leave it alone. To be sure, this is twice as true for the /System/Library folder. This library contains files that are critical to the operation of your system. If you mess with the

If you still have to understand how to show hidden files mac of the System Library, from the Finder you can open it from the "Go" menu in the Finder and select "Go to Folder...". You can then type /Library. If you need the user library, under whose name you are logged in, type ~/Library.

Find and remove unneeded files quickly

Even if everything works pretty fast, it can be frustrating to see unnecessary files taking up so much-needed hard disk space. Once you have learned how to how to see hidden files on mac free main memory from the unnecessary ones. You may use a special software, like Macflypro, to do this work for you fast and safely.

Manual cleaning method is not only a long and inconvenient process, as you will have to manually search for all unnecessary folders and files, but also rather dangerous, because sometimes inexpirienced users can delete important files by mistake. All applications that you have purchased or downloaded from the App Store can always be re-downloaded. If you are confident in your abilities, follow just two steps:

1. close all active programs. To do this, press Command + Q at the same time;

2. press Cmd + Shift + G to open a directory search window and enter ~/Library/Caches. This is where you can delete the entire contents. It's true that in some situations you might snag something unnecessary, so take a good look at what's stored there, check the file size, and delete the largest files or those that haven't been used in a while. To quickly find out when a file was last used, or to see which one is taking up the most space, use the file sorting feature.

To add more free space, in addition to clearing the cache, go through other folders and perform file deletion of unnecessary but bulky files. For instance, it may be the installation files of a certain game, or a large number of backup files accumulated on the hard disk. Check for any unnecessary files and delete them.


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