Your Mac has a few secrets up its sleeve, hidden files and folders that are invisible to you. Apple hides these files and folders to prevent you from accidentally changing or deleting important data that your Mac needs. You may occasionally need to view or edit one of these hidden files. To do so, you must first make it visible again.

Accessing hidden files in Snow Leopard is a lot easier than in previous versions of OS X now that the ‘Open’ and ‘Save’ dialog boxes of any application can display hidden files and folders. What’s that you say? You don’t see an option to display hidden files and folders in the aforementioned dialog boxes? I forgot to mention that the option is hidden, too.

Fortunately, there is now a simple keyboard trick that allows hidden files and folders to display in any ‘Open’ or ‘Save’ dialog box.

  1. Launch the application you wish to use to edit or view the hidden file.
  2. Select ‘Open’ from the application’s File menu.
  3. An Open Dialog box will display.
  4. With the dialog box as the front-most window (you can click once in the dialog box to make sure it’s in front), press the command, shift, and period keys at the same time.
  5. The dialog box now will display any hidden files or folders within its list items.
  6. You can toggle between the hidden files and folders being displayed by pressing command, shift, period again.

Once the hidden files and folders display in the dialog box, you can navigate and open the files just as you would any other file in the Finder.

This same trick also works for ‘Save’ and ‘Save As Dialog’ boxes.