Like any other major computing system, your Mac also contains many hidden files, which is understandable. Most concealed files are related to system security and functions. Thus, if you accidentally delete or edit those files incorrectly, the whole Mac system may end up severely damaged. However, there are times when you might need to access those files to troubleshoot problems related to macOS or when you simply want to wipe out some junk files that serve no purpose. In this article, we will show you how to recover and access hidden files on Mac. We also explain what these files are and why Apple hides them. Without further ado, let’s dig in.
What are Hidden Mac Files?
Some files continue to take more and more storage space in your Mac, but you have no idea where the files are located. These are hidden files. They are concealed from everyone’s eyes, as Apple usually does so for multiple security reasons. Caches, system apps, system files, and logs are some of the most common hidden files. The majority of these are usually stored in the Library folder of your Mac. These files contain your personal information and app-support data. Every such file has the “.” character in its file name. Unfortunately, you can’t usually see them unless you modify your Mac manually to get access to them.
Many Mac users often use third-party apps to hide files on their computers and end up forgetting about them. Thus, you might be piling more and more hidden files on your Apple device without even being aware. But don’t worry—we are here to help you find these hidden files. But before that, let’s see why your Mac keeps these files away from sight.
Why Did Mac Conceal This Data?
There are multiple reasons why Apple hides some files on your Mac. Here are some of the most common reasons that you need to know:
- Apple hides several different files to make sure you don’t accidentally damage them. Editing such files in the wrong way might negatively affect your computer.
- Many system files are responsible for the fundamental functions and operations on your Mac. If you accidentally delete and modify them, your whole Mac can crash down. As a precaution, Mac keeps these files hidden.
- Apple also hides the files that you rarely use to ensure your Mac doesn’t look cluttered.
In general, accidentally deleting or modifying most of these hidden files can do serious damage to your Mac. However, not all hidden files are important. Some stay in your Mac, occupying the precious real estate of your internal storage. They don’t have any special function that helps your Mac operate. Thus, we will demonstrate how to find them in the next section. Without a moment of hesitation, let’s dive into the three most common ways to discover and recover hidden files on your Mac.
1. Use Keyboard Shortcuts to Recover Hidden Files on Mac
In the recent versions of macOS, there is an incredible feature to access and recover your hidden files—keyboard shortcuts. As long as you’re using macOS High Sierra or the later versions, you can access the invisible files using a few keystrokes. Here’s how you use the keyboard shortcuts to recover hidden files on Mac:
- Use “Finder” to go to the folder where you think the hidden files are located.
- Press the “Command + Shift + Period” keys. If the folder has any hidden files, they will show themselves.
Pro Tip: You can use the same keyboard shortcuts to hide the file again.
2. Recover Hidden Files on Mac Using Finder
If the previous method didn’t work, you can switch to Finder to recover the hidden files on your Mac. Here’s how you can do it:
- First, open “Finder” on your Mac.
- Next, press and hold the “Alt” key until a drop-down menu with multiple options shows up.
- Click on the “Go” option.
- Finally, the hidden “~/Library” folder, which contains most of the hidden files stored in your Mac, will show up.
Now, you can go inside the “~/Library” folder to find the hidden files you’re looking for. The folder will be visible to your eyes as long as you keep the “Finder” window open. Once you close the Finder window, you can no longer interact with the “~/Library” folder and its files. Well, you can keep this folder permanently visible. All you have to do is to drag the folder to the “Finder sidebar.”
3. Utilize Terminal to Restore the Hidden Files
Are you familiar with Terminal? Well, if you’re a tech-savvy person who is comfortable with command-line operations, you can use this method to discover your hidden files. The process is quite easy and pretty straightforward. Follow the instructions below to recover the hidden files on Mac using Terminal:
- Open the “Terminal” window by navigating to Finder → Applications → Utilities → Terminal.
- Now, type this command line in the Terminal: defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles True
- Next, press the “Return” key to skip one line in the Terminal and move to the next one.
- Type killall Finder and press the “Return” key again.
That’s it. These commands will refresh the Finder and show all the existing hidden files stored on your Mac.
Pro Tip: If you ever want to hide the previously hidden files again, execute this command after opening the Terminal: defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles False