Showing all files in the Finder

By default the Finder only displays visible files and public directories.

This excludes any files that begin with a period (such as .htaccess or .htpasswd) as well as any non-public directories, such as /private/etc/ (containing useful files like hosts) or /usr/local/Cellar, where Homebrew-managed packages are installed.

One can easily access all of these files and directories via the command-line. But that’s no help if you’re trying to do so via the Finder or software that’s integrating with the Finder.

I recently encountered this issue when I was trying to connect MuseScore with Lame, in order to be able to save files as MP3s.

To make these files and directories visible, run this at the command-line:

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES

Then relaunch the Finder:

  1. Press Command-Option Escape to open the Force Quit dialog box.
  2. Select Finder.
  3. Click Relaunch.

Of course now you’ll be seeing .DS_Store everywhere, like some sort of conspiracy. So once you’ve had enough, you can change the setting back:

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles NO

Don’t forget to relaunch the Finder after.