View Hidden Folders in Mac OSX Finder

In a previous article (Show Hidden Files in Mac OS X Finder) Craig described how to change your Finder settings to always view all the hidden files on your system. If you would rather not leave them visible, then here’s a simple way to get to hidden directories when you need to.

A few times recently I’ve found myself browsing around in the terminal window for a second, then switching to finder only to realize that the file I wanted to open was in one of the hidden “system” directories that Apple wants to hide from me. Well, most of the time I’m perfectly content having those directories hidden from me. Craig’s trick makes everything permanently visible, until you switch it off, which make me have to do some extra work to switch the hidden folders to visible and then switch them back to hidden again. But here’s a simple way to get to those hidden files without switching anything on and off. And what’s amazing about this trick is that it’s not exactly arcane hackery. All you have to do is select a menu in the Finder! What? Finder has menus? I hardly ever use them since I’ve gotten used to the keyboard shortcut for “New Finder Window” (it’s cmd+N if you’re curious), and I generally right click to get a new folder created in the right spot.

So, lets say you need to access /etc for some reason. Go to Finder and select the go menu. Then select “Go to Folder…”

Go to folder...

A dialog box appears:

go to folder dialog box

Type in the hidden directory path you’d like to view, press “Go” and you’re set.


  1. Nice.

  2. thanx a great help

  3. Thanks for the great tip – I was trying to find files on old NTFS-formatted external drive that I had used with XP. Brilliant!

  4. I am very happy for your tricky and intelligent solution

  5. Awesome tip. Works beautifully for navigating hidden system folders on NTFS drives. Slick!

  6. Thanks a lot.
    Great tip.
    I was looking for a simple way to get into my maven repository and indeed I found some tricky black magic to show all hidden files, restart finder and so on, but yours is just what I was looking for.
    I know that you wrote this two years ago, but anyway, it was helpful for me.
    Thanks man!

  7. Thanks for the tip. Sometimes difficult things can be easy – once you know how to do it!!

    You have saved me hours of work now and countless in the future!

  8. Thank you kind, sir. For some reason never worked for me.

  9. Thank you kind, sir. For some reason “defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES” never worked for me.

  10. I’ve spent most of the evening trying to discover how to fix Skype from crashing by removing a file from an invisible folder. I got no simple inclusive instructions from Skype and other websites were no clearer. One even would have had me typing code into Terminal something which I realized would have truly been terminal. At last I found your instruction, clear and straightforward, followed it, found the folder, trashed the file, restarted Skype… and it worked! I do thank you most sincerely!

  11. This didn’t work for me. I have a .token folder in my home directory that I cannot browse to using Finder. Finder says it does not exist even though I am in it with terminal.

  12. Sharone….the proper syntax for the terminal code is
    “defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE” (not YES)

  13. Very useful. Thanks.

  14. Fu**n thanks m8 ur the best…..!!!!

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