Easily View Invisible Files in Mac OS X’s Finder

Exactly one year ago, Cal wrote in to ask, “I once had ‘hidden files’ on my mac – running tiger. Now every application and file is visible, but ghosted back. How can I undo the view hidden files?” I am sorry, Cal, that I am only responding to this question now. I recently bought a 5th generation iPod nano, and I spent an hour last night troubleshooting a problem that was preventing me from uploading my recent runs to the Nike+ website. To properly solve this problem, I needed to manipulate invisible/hidden files and folders. I normally do this through the Terminal, since it is easy to access any kind of file there. The reality, though, is that most people using Mac OS X want a way to access invisible files through the Finder, and luckily this is quite easy to do.

First, you need to download a great Dashboard widget called “Hidden Files.” This widget is ultra simple: it has one button that toggles between the words “Show” and “Hide.”

All you need to do is open Dashboard to access this widget. You can open Dashboard by pressing F4 (or a different F-Key if you have changed this setting), selecting Dashboard from your Dock, or opening it from the /Applications folder.

When you press the button while it says Show, Hidden Files will enable the Finder setting that shows invisible files. It then restarts the Finder so that you can see these changes. You can then see all of your hidden and invisible files!

As you can see from the above screenshot, I can now see the dozens of invisible files and folders in my home folder. These files are “grayed out,” which is how the Finder indicates that a file or folder is invisible.

Once you are done viewing the invisible files, you can return them to their natural, hidden state by opening Dashboard again. This time, you will notice that the button on the Hidden Files widget has changed from “Show” to “Hide.” Press the “Hide” button. Hidden Files will change the invisibility setting and restart the Finder to make these changes take effect.

Tagged as: apple, Dashboard, finder, mac

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