At some time my MBA 10.8 Finder decided (or was it me) to hide certain files from me.

Here is the example (I have few other files like it)

.. The Water Horse.flv

File name

Originally those files are downloaded from the web in Firefox using the add- on called Ant.com.

I can still see the files in VLC player, or in the OminDiskSweeper.

I can also see the files using the show hidden files in Terminal.

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE && killall Finder

It used to be not so, but something changed, or I changed without knowing.

My investigation showed it has to do with the beginning of the file name (.. ) that is no longer striped by the download program.

If I remove the beginning of the file name it goes back to normal, but unfortunately the files are named like that originally on the web site.

So I tried the revers process by adding the dot in front and it tells me I should not do that. How do I tell my OS to show those files in Finder with that name or how do I strip the beginning of the file name during or after download process, or am I stuck with the show all hidden files.

Using the dot at beginning of file name

Is there a way to change the name of the file before or during or after download, so I do not have to use Terminal each time to unhide all files then hide again.

  • 1
    Dont understand the question you already figured out to hide and unhide them (correctly). Normally you should not be tinkering with hidden files through finder though.. after removing the dot reverse the terminal command to hide hidden files again and do normal rename in FInder
    – Joop
    Sep 27, 2013 at 12:34
  • @Joop that is exactly the question. Every time I download such file (daily) I have to unhide, rename and hide again.
    – Ruskes
    Sep 27, 2013 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


Any file or folder that begins with '.' is going to be hidden in the Finder. That has always been true, back to the days of NeXTStep.

If what you are trying to do is automatically rename files that begin with a '.' to not begin with a '.' that can easily be accomplished with a shell script. Save the following as /usr/local/bin/rename-dot-files.sh:

#!/bin/zsh -f


cd "$DIR"

ls -1Ad \.* | egrep -v '.DS_Store|.localized' | while read line

        NEWNAME=$(echo "$line" | sed 's#^\.##g')

        /bin/mv -vn "$line" "$NEWNAME"


exit 0

That script will look in $HOME/Downloads/ for any files that start with a . (excluding .DS_Store and .localized which you do not want to rename) and will rename it to the same name, without the '.' as long as there is no other file/folder with that same name.

To do this automatically you will need to create a launchd plist that will automatically launch any time the directory changes:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">

Obviously you'll want to change the path from /Users/luomat/ to whatever your $HOME is.

Save that plist to ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.tjluoma.rename-dot-files.plist and then load it as:

launchctl load ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.tjluoma.rename-dot-files.plist

The script will run whenever the ~/Downloads/ is changed, which includes any files being added or removed, but it automatically limits itself to files which begin with '.'

  • Now that is what I call a good answer.
    – Ruskes
    Sep 28, 2013 at 22:15
  • Note that it doesn't have to be in /usr/local/bin -- it can be anywhere, as long as you specify the absolute path when running it (like in the .plist) or put its containing folder in $PATH (e.g. export PATH="$PATH:~/bin").
    – SilverWolf
    Jan 19, 2018 at 18:51

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