Show all files in Finder (.htaccess hidden fix)

[Update] Note: Some applications, such as the 39-Euro (~$80USD) Textmate, will helpfully display .htaccess files; with Textmate you can see, open, edit and move (Save as…) .htaccess files.

I am a web developer. I like to use the Mac, but one thing is absolutely awful when doing web design in OS X: Editing .htaccess files. (These are used to configure Apache web servers.) Since they start with a dot, as do most Unix system files, OS X Finder hides them. Same goes for “Open File” dialog boxes in many programs. So, short of using the command line (Terminal) every time, what can you do to see and edit these files?

As pointed out by Chris, the solution is not bad.

All you have to do is go to Terminal and type this:
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
killall Finder

The original tip is on Adrian Mayo’s OSXFAQ.

[Update] Uh, one little problem. It seems, at least for me, that this makes pretty much all files look kind of washed-out, as if everything was a hidden file. I’m not sure; it could have been another setting that did this to me. Do you get this problem too? Why or why not? Can we fix it? Use my contact form since I do not often check comments.

Finally, I would like to point out that even though we web developers find that OS X hiding them is inconvenient, this is not an Apple bug or failure; .htaccess starts with a dot for the reason that Unix systems (such as OS X) would treat them as hidden files. After all, you don’t want site visitors to see your .htaccess files; they are only used to configure the Apache server.


December 25th, 2006. (Updated: December 19, 2007 at 9:29am.)
Alan Hogan (@alanhogan).  Contact · About