TipBITS: Reveal Invisible Files on the Mac with a Keystroke


(Adam Engst) #1

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2018/05/16/tipbits-reveal-invisible-files-on-the-mac-with-a-keystroke/

If you’ve ever needed to work with invisible files on your Mac but didn’t want to drop into Terminal, read on for the secret keyboard shortcut that reveals the files and directories that are normally hidden in the Finder.


(Jolin Warren) #2

(Bonus points to those who flinch slightly when typing it because your fingers remember when Command-. was the universal “stop it!” keystroke on the Mac.)

I’m curious why that sentence is written in the past tense. It sill is the way to cancel pretty much everything – I use it daily!


(Adam Engst) #3

I’ll have to pay more attention—my experience has been that very few apps support it anymore so I just gave up using it. Can you share some of the spots it works for you?


(Jolin Warren) #4

Pretty much any dialogue box with a cancel button (Calendar, Pages, Numbers, Outlook, etc.). I basically always use it for “Cancel”. But that’s all I used it for in classic Mac OS (and System 7 before!) but maybe there were more places the key combo worked back then?

I’ll try to be more conscious of where I use it and compile a list.


(Doug Miller) #5

I don’t do this all that often, but I do use it to stop music playing in iTunes.


(Ulf Dittmer) #6

This tip does not work on El Capitan.

I’m so used to using the space bar to start and stop playing media (since VLC supports that as well) that I never noticed this worked.


(Jolin Warren) #7

Cmd-. stops Safari loading a page.


(Adam Engst) #8

For that, I reflexively hit Esc now.


(Doug Miller) #9

That’s what I used to do, but I just recently (say, in the last year) started using Cmd-. when I grew frustrated when I would highlight a song I wanted to play, press spacebar, and discover that iTunes was playing the last song that I paused (which I forgot I had paused, probably days before.) Now, I stop play when I am done, so that when I highlight a song I want to play, pressing spacebar plays that song.


(Joseph) #10

I just came here to say the same thing, when I noticed myself do that. I do it a lot, because I often accidentally start loading the wrong page.


(Joseph) #11

I think this is what finally caused me to stop using iTunes entirely. When I can’t figure out how to play the song I want to listen to, the interface is entirely broken.


(Simon) #12

Good point. The one thing that should be obvious and work perfectly in an app like iTunes is playing a song. :slight_smile:

The other day when I was having a hard time figuring out how to get iTunes to play/pause without using the mouse, I actually resorted to F8. I had never used that key before, but in that situation I noticed it and tried it. It turned out to be the one KB input I could find to do exactly what I wanted in the expected fashion repeatedly.


(Doug Miller) #13

Well, double-clicking a song, or pressing return when it is highlighted, always starts playing it. I just had spacebar in my head when maybe it shouldn’t have been.


(Alan Forkosh) #14

Typing Command-L goes to what iTunes thinks is the current song. That does not necessarily correlate to the highlighted song.


(tewha) #15

This is the one major problem I have with Photos: live photos. I need to re-discover via Google searches that hovering over the Live button is how to show a Live photo every single time. My most recent re-discovery of this was only yesterday, so it’s still fresh in my mind, bu tit’s something I need to deal with about once per month at most.

That said, now that I’ve finally written this down I’ll probably remember…


(tewha) #16

It usually does the same thing as Escape. For instance, either will get you out of the modern Safari URL bar (command-L). But it’s definitely not universal anymore: Only Escape will get you out of a Finder rename.


(Joseph) #17

It still works in the Terminal as a way to quit running apps. I think it is being seamlessly interpreted as Control-C or something like that.


(Jolin Warren) #18

Yeah, I’m sure you can use Esc everywhere that Cmd-. works, but I guess I still consider Cmd-. one of the two “universal ‘stop it!’ keystrokes” which was why I was thrown off by the use of the past tense in the article.

I almost always use Cmd-. as it’s more convenient since my fingers are nearby and can reliably hit them – Esc is more of a stretch and I sometimes miss with my pinky. It’s probably also habit after all these years, too. Esc did work at times in classic Mac OS, but was inconsistent.


(paulc) #19

Interesting to see that the whole thread is a kind of diversion from the topic, the cmd-shit-. to show invis files. For THAT I thank ya ACE, I never knew that!


(crun) #20

I’ve a brand new Macbook Pro from my employer. Twice now, its Trash claimed to have files in it but opening that in the Finder revealed … nothing. Weird. Better, I hadn’t deleted anything in Finder.

An ls -a ~/.Trash in Terminal showed a .DS_Store file. According to various Internet postings, even if you have hidden files exposed (I do), macOS High Sierra still doesn’t display the .DS_Store files. Even weirder.

Some questions: a) How’d that .DS_Store file get into my Trash? b) Why does macOS believe it’s a deleted file? c) Why have I never had a .DS_Store spontaneously appear in the Trash on my iMac (running the same version of macOS but definitely not brand new)?