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Files and Folders That Are Invisible in Finder Windows (But Should Not Be)

I was working away yesterday in Terminal when I noticed several files and one large folders that I could see via 'ls' in Terminal, but which were not displayed in the Finder window.

Mind you, these are not “special” files; the were my own Stuff, hidden from me by the Finder for no reason at all (some kind of bug). The maddening thing was figuring out how to make them visible in the Finder window.

So here’s how to do it in Terminal— the details of using Terminal and a command line are complex (cannot teach it here), but you have to 'cd' to the correct directory, then (for example) in my case a folder called “WEB_SERVER_SETUP”, here is how to make it pop into view in the Finder window:

setfile -a v WEB_SERVER_SETUP

Note: you must have XCode installed (a developer tool) to have /usr/bin/setfile.

It is absurd that this should even be necessary. The idea of hiding files has always seemed like a really bad design decision to me. The Finder doesn’t even have a “show hidden files” option, which in my view is a data loss bug— I knew I had that folder around, but just couldn’t seem to find it (SpotLight found it for me)! It is easy enough to throw away an “empty” folder that is not empty.

Here is the command line help for 'setfile'. What it doesn’t tell you is that 'v' means “make it visible” and 'V' means “make it invisible”. And it should be 'setfile', not 'SetFile'. Buggy help.

Arne D writes that “chflags nohidden path” has the same effect as “setfile -a v path”.

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