14

I came to understand that the following is the way to toggle the visibility of hidden files:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES
# replace YES with NO to hide hidden files
killall -HUP Finder /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app

Is there a way to show/hide hidden files without killing the Finder?

2 Answers 2

16

On macOS Sierra, version 10.12.4 and above, you can press +Shift+. (period), to toggle hidden files inside of Finder.

Late edit: This currently works on Mojave too, as of b5, 18 Aug 2018.

5
  • @fd0, It states, "... to toggle hidden files inside of Finder.", and the key word here is "toggle", which typically implies pressing the same shortcut key combo both hides/unhides hidden files in this use case. +1 Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 21:26
  • 1
    Do you know the equivalent on non-US versions ?
    – ogerard
    Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 12:56
  • Don't forget that you can use that same keyboard combination in Open/Save dialog boxes to temporarily show hidden files.
    – boris42
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 4:13
  • Still works in Apr 2019!
    – SilverWolf
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 3:53
  • @ogerard see apple.stackexchange.com/q/409496/57290
    – Antwane
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 12:56
6

Edit: This no longer appears to work since El Capitan. killall Finder seems to be the only way now.

This is my current El Capitan method, which should also work for Mountain Lion & older

set newHiddenVisiblesState to "YES"
try
    set oldHiddenVisiblesState to do shell script "defaults read com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles"
    if oldHiddenVisiblesState is in {"1", "YES"} then
        set newHiddenVisiblesState to "NO"
    end if
end try
do shell script "defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles " & newHiddenVisiblesState & "; killall Finder"

For Mavericks & Yosemite…

You don't need to restart the Finder, only refresh the windows.

This Applescript will toggle the state & refresh...

set newHiddenVisiblesState to "YES"
try
    set oldHiddenVisiblesState to do shell script "defaults read com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles"
    if oldHiddenVisiblesState is in {"1", "YES"} then
        set newHiddenVisiblesState to "NO"
    end if
end try
do shell script "defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles " & newHiddenVisiblesState


tell application "Finder"
    set theWindows to every Finder window
    repeat with i from 1 to number of items in theWindows
        set this_item to item i of theWindows
        set theView to current view of this_item
        if theView is list view then
            set current view of this_item to icon view
        else
            set current view of this_item to list view

        end if
        set current view of this_item to theView
    end repeat
end tell

Credit to ganbustein for the improved hide/show routine

8
  • You don't need the tell application "System Events" block around the two do shell script ... commands. In fact, I'm surprised System Events allows you to tell it to invoke do shell script.
    – ganbustein
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 6:05
  • I'm no expert in it - I've always just used system events if i don't appear to have 'anybody in particular' to tell;-)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 7:00
  • 2
    It "always worked" because System Events is returning an error code that means "do it yourself", and the script is silently doing just that to handle the error. The problem is that you would be invoking do shell script with some other app's privileges without giving it a chance to vet the script. Apple made that change to close a security hole where you could ask a program running as root to do your script for you.
    – ganbustein
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 7:26
  • 1
    @ganbustein I've pasted your version into a couple of other places on SE I've used this in an answer. Thanks for the input. Most appreciated.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 7:40
  • This is great, except that it doesn't change the Desktop itself. Is there was a way to do that too, other than restarting the Finder?
    – TJ Luoma
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 12:31

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