4 Ways to Find and Delete Hidden Files on Mac

If you are tired of being asked to use iCloud to sync your files because you are running low on disk space, you may want to try decluttering your system. 

Now, some of it is pretty obvious – empty Trash, remove unused apps, and get rid of unwanted screenshots. 

In fact, Apple offers its own recommended steps to check out how to manage your ‘Storage,’ but sometimes this is still not enough. 

So, here’s how you can find out find obscure files and delete them – 

#1. Find the Library folder

The Library folder is what is hiding in plain sight. To access this, open Finder and type this “~/Library/” and hit ‘Return.’

Here you can find all the files you want and delete them if you want. 

But this may not work in all circumstances. If you boot from an external drive, then this command won’t work. 

You will have to use the full path in this format “Your Mac Name/Your Drive/Users/Your Username/Library”

But this may be too advanced for most beginners, especially if you are prone to mistyping path names. 

#2. Use the Finder

Enter a search term, and you will see a list of items that match it. It is possible that you see 0 results for a term. Use the plus icon next to it, and you will see a bunch of options in the drop-down menu. 

Now you can filter based on File Visibility. Choose invisible files to see everything that is hidden. 

This is effective to an extent. You would still need to know the name or a partial name of the file. 

#3. Use the Terminal

If you follow this method, you will end up making every invisible file visible forever. Now, there are many files that are hidden by design, and having these exposed may not be the best user experience. 

To get started with this, open Terminal and type “defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE” and press enter. 

You will have to restart your Mac to see the changes. A quick workaround is to type “killall Finder” in the Terminal. 

This will open the Finder, and you can see all invisible files.

If you are done browsing through and deleting invisible files, you can go back to hiding these with the following commands. 

Type “defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles FALSE” and click ‘Return.’ 

Next, write “killall Finder,” and everything will be status quo as usual. 

#4. Use third-party software

Third-party software can also help with this problem by creating a copy of your data. When you use the software, you can see all files – hidden or visible and sort through files much easier. 

Some software also helps you delete files that are unnecessary. 

What kind of files can you delete?

  1. Cache files

Cache files are temporary files that apps and browsers create to help you switch between two apps or two tabs faster. But, these can be safely deleted without it affecting the device’s performance. 

  1. Temporary files

Temporary files contain cache and cookies in your browser, temporary document versions, and system logs that are no longer needed. 

Again, deleting temporary files will not affect your system’s performance.

  1. Deleted app’s files

After deleting an app, there are some residual files like the installation files or files that contain disk permissions that are sometimes not deleted. You can delete these safely, and should you need the app in the future, you can always go ahead and download it again. 

  1. iOS device backups

If you have had several upgrades of the iPhone or iPad, each of these backups is stored on your MacBook. You can delete versions from smartphones that you no longer use and keep only the current ones. 

  1. Duplicate files

Due to human error, you may have downloaded the same file twice or copied files into two different folders. You can remove duplicate files without much thought. 

  1. Attachments in Mail

The Mail app contains cached messages and attachments so that you can access these through Spotlight. But practically, there is no use for it since you can rely on an online email client to view your emails. 

  1. Unnecessary printer and scanners

Printers and scanners that are compatible with the Apple computer do not require any drivers for installation and use. They basically are plug-and-play devices. 

For older printers, you may have installed drivers that are not required anymore. You can remove these printers and scanners altogether. 

To sum up

When looking for and deleting hidden files, make sure that you document your process in case something goes wrong. This can help the expert that may need to troubleshoot your system. Also, keep in mind that these are advanced techniques, so you should not attempt these unless you are completely sure you can do this exactly as described. 

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