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Pogue's Basics: The secret keystroke that shows the Mac's invisible files

David Pogue
Tech Critic

On the Mac, it’s sometimes helpful to be able to see all the invisible files that teem on your drive, especially if you’re a pretty competent techie. But how can you make them appear? If you’ve ever heard someone tell you, the procedure probably involved typing some arcane Terminal command, or downloading a shareware program.

But nay! You can, in fact, make them all visible with a single keystroke that nobody knows about: command-shift-period!! BOOM! There they are!

In macOS Sierra, this trick works to reveal hidden files on the desktop; in previous versions, it revealed hidden files only in the Open and Save dialog boxes. (It still works in those, too, in Sierra.) If it’s not working for you, confirm that you’re pressing the right keys (Command, Shift, period), and confirm that you haven’t reassigned that combo to another function on your Mac.

Hit that same combo again to send those invisible files back into invisibility.

Undocumented and handy.

David Pogue, tech columnist for Yahoo Finance, welcomes non-toxic comments in the Comments below. On the web, he’s davidpogue.com. On Twitter, he’s @pogue. On email, he’s poguester@yahoo.com. You can read all his articles here, or you can sign up to get his columns by email

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