When I navigate in Finder (or in File Save/Open windows) I often see various files and folders are shown in grey. I can navigate them as normal, so what does this mean?

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  • Does shift-command-. (show/hide hidden files) change it?
    – Gilby
    Dec 28, 2021 at 22:46

3 Answers 3


Generally that means the file or folder is hidden. @Gilby accurately points out that + + . (Command+Shift+Period) will toggle their collective visibility on or off, though it doesn't change the hidden flag. Instead, the entries will appear as grayed out.

If you open a terminal window the command chflags nohidden followed by the name of your file or folder (so, for example: chflags nohidden ./2020) will toggle its visibility back to on in finder, but you'll need to click off the folder and then return to it (or in some cases run the + + . twice) to get Finder to "notice" the change. Note that protected system files, dotfiles (files whose name begins with a ".") and files for which you are not the owner will not be affected by this.

Edit: It's entirely possible that some other program or process has claimed ownership of those folders. If the above doesn't work for you, please post back and we'll try to debug it.

  • Is there some functionality that files/folders are automatically hidden if they reach a certain age, or get no activity for a given time?
    – Mr. Boy
    Jan 2, 2022 at 19:44
  • @Mr.Boy Not as a general rule... it's possible you have some software that implements that functionality as a feature though. I'm a UIUX Specialist, myself, and I've been a long-time advocate for what I call "decaying UI" (making UI elements slowly reduce themselves as the user becomes more familiar with them, so they take up less screen real estate in those instances we can be certain the user is the same person each time. Gmail uses these tactics to great effect). Those are clearly years: is this a photo gallery? Message archive? MP3 store? That is to say, what are the folders related to?
    – NerdyDeeds
    Jan 3, 2022 at 4:52

I had the same problem with a file under Ventura. Terminal showed me -rw-r--r--@

chflags did not seem to work but xattr -c *.pdf cleared that flag.


I have seen that in three circumstances:

  1. When the grayed files are in the process of being copied by Finder.

2, In an Open dialog when they are not of a type the app can handle

  1. In Open With→Other, when they are apps that aren't able to open that file type.

hidden files do not show at all in Finder.

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