Techie Tip of the Week: Show Hidden Files

By default, your operating system hides certain files — generally related to the system operations, user preferences, and other files that most users would not need (or want) to see in a particular folder.

Suppose you DO want to view these hidden files. Maybe you want to edit the .htaccess file used to manipulate web servers (e.g., restricting access) on your Mac or Windows machine. Or you want to see or edit the library files used by the programs installed on your computer. Or you want to make sure that malicious users haven’t sneaked in a virus by making it hidden. How do you change your computer’s settings to allow users to view hidden files?

Windows Users

To view hidden files on Windows 7/Vista/XP:

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. In Windows 7 or Vista, click Appearance and Personalization.
    In Windows XP, click Appearance and Themes.
  4. Click Folder Options.
  5. Click the View tab.
  6. In Windows 7 or Vista, in Advanced settings, click Show hidden files, folders, and drives.
    In Windows XP, in Hidden Files and Folders, click Show hidden files and folders.
  7. Click OK.

Mac Users

To view hidden files on a machine running Mac OS X (including Snow Leopard, Lion, and Mountain Lion):

  1. Launch the Terminal application (Application >; Utilities >; Terminal).
  2. Enter the following command and press return:
    defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
  3. Enter the following command and press return:
    killall Finder
Note: To re-hide hidden files, enter the following command and press return:
defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

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