9/29/2014 - 4:19 PM

Show/Hide Hidden Files Terminal Alias

Show/Hide Hidden Files Terminal Alias

Show/Hide Hidden Files using Terminal Aliases

A Terminal alias is a name or shortcut for one or multiple commands. Using an easy to remember alias, we can turn the above four step process into just one.

An alias can be made temporarily (just for the use of one terminal session) or permanently. As we want this to be a shortcut used now and in the future, let’s make it permanent:

  1. Open Terminal found in Finder > Applications > Utilities
  2. In Terminal, paste the following: sudo nano ~/.bash_profile
  3. Enter your Mac’s administration password if required, then hit return
  4. At the bottom of the open .bash_profile file, paste the following: alias showFiles='defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES; killall Finder /System/Library/CoreServices/'
  5. Below that, paste the following: alias hideFiles='defaults write AppleShowAllFiles NO; killall Finder /System/Library/CoreServices/'
  6. Press ctrl + O and hit return to save the file
  7. Press ctrl + X to exit the file and return to the command line
  8. In Terminal, paste the following: source ~/.bash_profile to refresh your profile and make the aliases available

Adding aliases to .bash_profile via Terminal

Now when you want to show hidden files, all you need type in Terminal isshowFiles, then hideFiles when you want to hide them.

If you want to modify the behaviour or alias names, let’s take a closer look at the commands you just added:

alias showFiles='defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES;
killall Finder /System/Library/CoreServices/'
alias tells Terminal we’re adding a new alias.

showFiles is the name of the alias. Change this to what you wish.

We then give the alias two commands. The first being:

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES;
This is the command to show hidden files and is ended with a semi-colon ; so we can then use the second command:
killall Finder /System/Library/CoreServices/
This will relaunch the Finder (to replicate the step of holding ‘alt’ on the keyboard then right clicking the Finder icon in the dock).


With the aliases set up, all you need do in the future is type showFiles andhideFiles to show and hide Mac OS X’s hidden files respectively.

Aliases can be used to speed up your interaction with the Terminal. Set up an alias for navigating to your most used directories, to commit to a GitHub repo and so on.