Show Hidden Files & Hide Visible Files on a Mac

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There are a few different ways to go about showing hidden files and hiding visible files on a Mac OS X machine.

One approach is to use native OS X commands in the Terminal app – a little daunting for many users. Another is to create your own automator script and save it on your desktop – then just double click to flip back and forth every time you want to toggle the visibility of hidden files.

Once you can see your hidden files you can prepare to hide a visible file by adding a period (dot) at the start of the file name. You’ll get a warning but just proceed through it. The file will change slightly in appearance but remain visible until such time as you make your hidden files invisible again.

Please note – if hidden files aren’t currently being shown you’ll get an error message. You can’t hide a file using the dot trick unless you have already made hidden files visible.

This is not a substitute for real security. It’s an approach known as Security by Obscurity and it’s really not very secure at all. You’re hoping nobody will find the file, and making that a little bit harder, but if they do find it you’re in trouble.

For important and/or sensitive material it is much better to encrypt, with a more robust approach to hiding. Hiding the file remains an extra step, but it should not be the foundation of your security.

 

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