Hide Your Mac Files With Six Simple Methods

Protecting important files with a password sounds like a great idea, but what if you could hide those files so no one knew they were there? We’ll show you how.
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Whether you have nosy roommates or want extra privacy in a coworking space, there are ways to hide files on your Mac. These six methods include using the shortcut command, using a period, FileVault, Terminal, Library, and third-party apps.

You’ll also need to secure your device to ensure those hidden files stay secure from hackers and other online criminals. Don’t worry — we’ve broken it all down for you here and we’ve provided recommendations for antivirus software to stay secure.

In this article
Shortcut command
Add security with FileVault
How to hide files using Terminal
How to hide files using Library
Rename the file with a period
Use third-party apps to hide files
Use password managers to store files in the cloud
Why should I hide files on my Mac?
How to show hidden files
How to hide a file on a Mac FAQs
Bottom line

Shortcut command

Keyboard shortcuts on a Mac are a piece of cake. To hide a file, you need only a short combination:

  1. Click the file’s icon
  2. Simultaneously press Shift + Command + . (period)

To unhide the file, repeat the same process. Just know that anyone who knows how to do this can find your files. It’s not the most secure method, but at least it’s something.

Add security with FileVault

FileVault is a Mac feature that’s more secure than the simple keyboard command. Since other Mac users can use the keyboard shortcut to find your hidden files, this is a better option if you need a password-protected file-hiding option.

  1. Go to System Settings in the Apple menu and select Privacy & Security.
  2. Choose the FileVault tab and click on the lock icon to allow changes.
  3. Click Turn On FileVault.
  4. Choose the recovery method and click Continue.
  5. Click Continue to execute the setup process.
  6. Choose either iCloud recovery or passcode recovery.

It’s very important to remember your password or recovery key for FileVault. If you forget your password or lose your recovery key, your files will be lost for good.

How to hide files using Terminal

Terminal is another native option that allows you to hide files and folders. To use Terminal, you just need to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Open Terminal by clicking Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
  2. Type the script “chflags hidden.”
  3. Drop the file/folder into the Terminal window.
  4. Click Enter.

Terminal can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with typing in lines of code. Use this only if you’re comfortable with the commands.

How to hide files using Library

Library is Mac’s default hidden folder. You can also use it to mask your own files by executing the following commands:

  1. In the Finder menu, click Go.
  2. Click Go to Folder.
  3. Type ~/Library and hit Enter.
  4. Create a new secret folder and drop it into the Library folder.

Rename the file with a period

If you want to bury a file in the annals of your Mac’s storage, you can do so by beginning the file with a period so it doesn’t come up in Finder. Be careful, however, because other people who know this trick may be able to figure it out. This strategy can be combined with other methods to make files even more difficult to locate.

Use third-party apps to hide files

There are a variety of third-party apps that help you hide files on your Mac.

Some, like Funter, are free, while others, like Forklift and Parallels Toolbox, can be trialed for free but require you to purchase the services.

Use password managers to store files in the cloud

If you’re looking for another secure method to hide files on your Mac, consider using a password manager. Many robust password manager applications allow you to store files within your lockbox. Below are some of our favorites:

  • NordPass: For file protection, include NordPass in your Nord family of security. You can keep encrypted files in your dashboard that can be accessed from anywhere with your NordPass login credentials.

    Get NordPass | Read Our NordPass Review
  • Keeper: Encryption and zero-knowledge security are built into Keeper’s DNA. Store files securely and also share them with anyone, even if they aren’t a Keeper subscriber.

    Get Keeper | Read Our Keeper Review

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Why should I hide files on my Mac?

There are plenty of reasons you might want to hide files on your Mac. If you live with a roommate who loves to snoop, use a coworking space, have kids who may access the family Mac, or even share a computer with a parent, you may want to mask your files.

If you want to install security software and make it more difficult for a hacker to access and uninstall it, hiding the file paths acts as an extra layer of security. Your Mac also runs via key functions that you may want to protect from accidental deletion.

In addition to Apple’s proprietary features, you can also use:

  • Password managers with file storage
  • Cloud vaults
  • Antivirus for additional security
  • Removable hard drives
  • Flash drives and other removable storage

Best antivirus software for protecting files

If you’re going to go to all the trouble of hiding your files, make sure you have antivirus software to protect your overall system. Macs have a reputation as being less susceptible to viruses, Trojans, and ransomware than PCs, but it’s still possible.

Below are some of our favorite antivirus choices for Macs:

  • CleanMyMac X: In addition to removing malware, CleanMyMac X offers performance enhancement tools to keep your Mac running smoothly. The seven-day free trial allows you to decide if you love it before you commit to a subscription.

    Get CleanMyMac X | Read CleanMyMac X Review
  • AVG: AVG’s free version comes with malware protection, but the real star is the low-cost AVG Ultimate, which includes features like tracker blockers and device enhancement.

    Get AVG | Read AVG Review
  • Avast: With over 30 years of experience, Avast’s award-winning software can be downloaded for free for instant protection. For anyone serious about security, Avast One Platinum even includes identity theft protection with $2 million in reimbursement for lost wages or identity theft.

    Get Avast | Read Avast Review

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  • Easy-to-use interface
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How to show hidden files

Once you’ve hidden your files, you’ll need to be able to access them again. Here’s how to access each of the methods we suggested above:

  • If you use the keyboard shortcut, just enter it again to reveal the hidden file.
  • For FileVault users, enter your iCloud password or your recovery key.
  • In Terminal, open the “chflags hidden” folder and access files.
  • You can access the Library folder the same way you did to hide the files, so you can access the hidden folder you created.
  • If you renamed the file with a period, type the exact file name in Finder with the period at the start.
  • If you used a third-party app, review that application’s service for how to hide and retrieve files.

How to hide a file on a Mac FAQs


How do I make hidden files visible?

Depending on your method, you’ll either need to reenter a command, enter your password, or reaccess the hidden section of your Mac to access the file. It’s important that you completely understand what you’re doing when you hide the file so you can open it again later. Hiding files is different from password-protecting files or PDFs, so make sure you know the difference before you enable changes.


How do I hide desktop icons?

To hide the desktop icons on your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Click Finder to open the dropdown menu.
  2. Choose Preferences
  3. Click the General tab.
  4. Under the "Show these items on desktop" section, you'll see all the files on your desktop.
  5. Uncheck all boxes, and all the desktop folders will instantly disappear.


Can I hide photos on my iPhone?

Yes, your iPhone has a hidden folder where you can store photos and videos. To hide these media types, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the photo or video you want to hide
  2. Tap the three dots located in the circle in the upper-right corner of the photo
  3. Click Hide

Now, these media items will appear only in the hidden folder on your iPhone. Afterward, clear your iPhone’s cache just for good measure.

Bottom line

The shortcut command is a quick fix that may be great if you need to step away from your computer for a moment. FileVault is a built-in security feature for additional protection. Terminal allows you to access your Mac from a different perspective, which is especially great if you’re comfortable with the code language. Library access buries your files in your Mac’s system, and third-party apps offer additional security from an outsider’s perspective.

If you add the secure storage of a password manager coupled with the protection of antivirus software, you’ll have a truly secure place for all your most private information.

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Author Details
Mary is a seasoned cybersecurity writer with over seven years of experience. With a B.S. in Liberal Arts from Clarion University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Point Park University, she educates audiences on scams, antivirus software, and more. Her passion lies in educating audiences on helpful ways to protect their data.