Here’s how to show hidden files on a Mac

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Apple has its reasons for hiding certain files from its average user. The main ones are mainly to prevent them from being modified or deleted by mistake.

But sometimes you need to see these files, or access the hidden ~ / Library folder, in order to fix something that is not working on your Mac.

You may also need to clear some space on your Mac and think that deleting some of these hidden files might be a good solution.

In this case, we have a number of tips in our tutorials How to free up space on a Mac and How to delete other storage on a Mac.

We recommend that you don’t delete these hidden files unless you really know what you are doing!

Files that you won’t be able to see by default are usually preceded by a period, such as the .htaccess file, .bash_profile, or the .svn directory. Folders like / usr, / bin, and / etc are also hidden. Finally, the Library folder, which contains the application support files and some data, is also hidden.

How to access your hidden files in macOS?

A quick and easy way to find secret files in a folder is to open Finder and simultaneously press Cmd + Shift + . (point).

When you no longer want to see hidden folders, press again Cmd + Shift + .

Where is the Library folder located?

Many of these hidden files are located in the Library folder, which itself is hidden.

In fact, to complicate matters, there is more than one Library folder and not all of them are hidden. Here’s how to find each Library folder, including ~ / Library.

The confusion is all the greater as Apple has made a lot of changes to Finder over the past few years, so some tutorials may refer to things that no longer exist.

For example, the Home folder will have a Home icon and probably whatever name you gave it. You will find it in the Users folder. Neither is visible by default in macOS Big Sur. Likewise, Macintosh hard drive is usually the name you gave your Mac and is also not visible by default. Don’t worry, we’ll show you how to make them visible!

How do I find ~ / Library?

The first library folder we’ll locate is the one hidden in your Home folder. It is sometimes referred to as ~ / Library.

The Home folder is one of the folders that is less easy to locate than it was before, you will spot it with its icon that looks like a house.

There are several ways to access it:

1st technique

  • Open Finder and tap Cmd + Shift + H.
  • You can also click Go in the menu and choose Home.

You can also add this Home / User folder to the Finder sidebar by opening the Preferences from Finder → Lateral bar, then checking the box next to your name, in the Favorites section.

Once you get to the Home folder, you can press Cmd + Shift +. to show hidden files including Library.

2nd technique

  • Open the Finder.
  • Click on Go in the menu bar.
  • Choose Go to folder at the bottom of the drop-down menu (or press Shift + Cmd + G).
  • Type ~ / Library in the text box and click Go.

3rd technique

  • Open Finder.
  • Hold down the Alt (Option) key and choose Go in the drop-down menu bar at the top of the screen.
  • The ~ / Library folder is located under the Home folder. Click on it to go directly to this folder.

How do I find the Library folder on the Macintosh hard drive?

The second library folder is not concealed as such, but it is still difficult to locate due to changes Apple has made to the Finder over the years.

This Library folder is located in what is often referred to as the Macintosh HD folder, but yours probably has the name you gave your Mac.

If you don’t see a Macintosh HD folder (or whatever name you gave your primary drive) in the left column when you open Finder, here’s what to do:

  • Open Finder.
  • Click Finder → Preferences.
  • Click the Sidebar tab.
  • You will find your Mac in the list of locations. Check the box next to it.
  • You will now see your drive in the Locations section of Finder (or the Devices section in older macOS). This folder includes applications, library, system and users, but also many hidden folders and files.
  • Press on Cmd + Shift + . to reveal them.

How do I find the System Library?

The third Library folder is located in System (one of the folders in the Macintosh HD folder we just discussed). It contains all the files your macOS needs to run.

Find the difference by comparing these three Library folders:

How to keep visible ~ / Library?

If you use the Go method to locate the ~ / Library folder, that folder will remain visible until you close the Finder window. The next time you watch it will be gone again.

If you want the folders to remain visible, you must press Cmd + Shift + . to reveal hidden files. When you don’t want to see them anymore, press Command + Shift + again.

The other way to keep the hidden ~ / Library folder visible is to drag the hidden Library icon from the Finder window to the Finder sidebar. This will make it accessible even after you close Finder.

Show hidden folders using Terminal

Finally, you can go through the Terminal this way:

  • Open Terminal.
  • Run the following script:
    $ defaults write AppleShowAllFiles true
    $ killall Finder
  • To go back, just change the true to false.

If the reason you wanted to locate these hidden files was to try to remove some of the space monitors from your system, then we recommend using an application like CleanMyMac X.

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