I'm setting up a new Mac running Monterrey 12.4.

I've used the standard method of the following terminal command:

defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles true; killall Finder

This doesn't allow me to see hidden files in terminal, only in Finder.

How can I always show hidden files when I use ls in the terminal?

  • 4
    The fine man page for ls(1) describes the '-a' and '-A' options. Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 2:37

3 Answers 3


How can I always show hidden files when I use ls in the terminal?

You could add something like alias ls='ls -a' to one of your startup scripts. Be careful though, changing the 'meaning' of ls might confuse more than it helps, so alias lsa='ls -a' might be preferable.


To see the hidden files in the finder you can also use cmd + shift + . (period)

and to check it on the terminal ls -a -a stands for all the files.


If you want to make this behavior permanent and always show hidden files by default, you can create an alias for the ls command that includes the -a option. Add the following line to your shell configuration file (e.g., ~/.bash_profile for Bash):

alias ls='ls -a'

After adding this line, restart your Terminal or run source ~/.bash_profile to apply the changes. Now, every time you type ls, it will automatically include the -a option, showing hidden files.

  • 1
    Your answer is already covered by an existing answer to this question. Check the help centre for more information on how to write good answers. Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 14:24
  • Also many if not most mac users will not be using bash now as the default is zsh and the bash version is 15 years old
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 17:32

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