Did you know that your hard drive is full of hidden files. All of them are hidden to keep your computer running smoothly. But every so often you may want to view those files to see if your computer is acting out of the ordinary or you have mistakenly named something starting with a dot (.) and want to find the file again. There are three ways you can do this. Through an application, through a preference pane, or good old command line. Each have there pros and cons. Each of these methods work in Snow Leopard and OS X Lion.
The application method is probably the simplest. With a simple application such as Houdini, you can at the click of a button hide or show files or folders. As well as this it also enables you to quickly hide folders on your hard drive so they are hidden from view. This works very well if you want to hide your “important files” from people, and don’t want to use the password protect folder method.
Preference Pane Method
Another simple method of hiding files is using a special preference pane called Secrets. I posted about earlier. It enables you to show and hide folders using one of the many options, within the program. It also has a whole lot more, to enable you to access the deepest parts of your operating system.
Probably the hardest to do but uses the least amount of work and has the most potential to go wrong, that is the Terminal Method. If you open up terminal (Applications > Utilities) and type the following:
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
This will show you all of the hidden files and folders on your operating system. If you want to reverse the command replace TRUE with FALSE.
Personally my favourite method is to use the secrets pane, I find it is the quickest method of them all. To conclude if you want to use these commands I suggest you don’t change anything. Like my parents said, look with your eyes and not with your hands. I seriously don’t recommend you change anything at all, other wise there would be dire consequences for you system.
If you want to learn more about these sort of tricks I recommend, Mac OS X Snow Leopard: The Missing Manual or Mac OS X Unix Toolbox. Both develop this skills further and have lots of other types of tricks like this.