I always have hidden files set to 'visible' in Finder, because I'm a developer and I work with a lot of dotfiles.

But even with this setting, Finder won't let me rename a file beginning with a dot. It also won't let me modify these files by pasting over them etc; it gives an error like "The item “.gitignore” can’t be replaced because it’s invisible." Well, it's not invisible, I can see it, and I want to replace it, and it's mine.

I know how to use mv. I am asking about doing this with Finder.

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    What step specifically do you perform to make invisible files exposed by Finder? What version of Finder / OS X are you running? The error I receive is "You can’t use a name that begins with a dot “.”, because these names are reserved for the system. Please choose another name." – bmike Aug 21 '15 at 15:56

I do not know what version of OS X you're using however I have no problem renaming dotfiles in Finder under OS X 10.8.5. That said, If your using a version of OS X that will not allow you to rename dotfiles in Finder and you do not want to use Terminal and the mv command, then a GUI option you can consider using is muCommander.

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You can solve this by doing one of the following to show hidden files (from https://ianlunn.co.uk/articles/quickly-showhide-hidden-files-mac-os-x-mavericks/):

  • Press Cmd-Shift-. in Finder to toggle showing hidden files
  • Run defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES and restart Finder

Once you have done this, the system will only warn you when creating dot files.

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On El Capitan (beta build 15A263e), I can not rename dot files and get this message:

You can’t use a name that begins with a dot “.”, because these names are reserved for the system. Please choose another name.

I use the third party tool Transmit to make changes to invisible files and folders. I wish I knew a way to modify Finder to do what you ask, but someone trickier than I will need to step up with instructions if they are known.

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You could make an Automator service with a hotkey that pops up and asks for a new name


I did the work for you.

Add it to ~/Library/Services and define a hotkey in System Preferences.

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  • Could you expand on this? Perhaps show an example of how you would build such an Automator service? – Ian C. Aug 21 '15 at 21:39

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