Occasionally, I need to send a file to someone that may be one of the dotfiles, a common one is a sites .htaccess file. By default, if a file or directory starts with a dot in OS X it is not displayed in the finder. So how do I drag it into an email?
Well, a simple way is to make a copy of the file without the dot. But that means I have to go into a terminal and make a copy of the file and then remove it when I am done. It works, but it isn’t very efficient.
I wanted an easier way to handle this than that.
It turns out that you can toggle a setting on and off in OS X that will display hidden files in Finder.
defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES
After typing that command into a terminal window you need to restart Finder for it to take effect. But there is no way I am going to remember this for the odd time when I need to display hidden files. I needed a shorter way.
What I really want is a keyboard shortcut that would allow me to toggle hidden files on and off with a keyboard command. My plan is to toggle hidden files on and off using super+h (I have remapped my cap lock key to be a super key – see A useful Caps Lock key by Brett Terpstra).
To do this we need to complete the following steps:
- Write a shell script to toggle AppleShowAllFiles on and off.
- Create an Automator Service to run the shell script
- Map the keyboard shortcut to the newly created service.
Creating the shell script is pretty straight forward:
SHOWDOTFILES=$(defaults read com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles)
if [ $SHOWDOTFILES == "NO" ]
echo "Toggle dotfiles on"
$(defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES; killall -HUP Finder)
echo "Toggle dotfiles off"
$(defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles NO; killall -HUP Finder)
Now we have to create an Automator action so that we can attach the script to the services menu, and hence a keyboard shortcut.
Open Automator and choose Service as the document type:
Adjust the service parameters:
Search for the Run Shell Script action:
Add your script name and path:
Save the Automator workflow. When you save the workflow it is placed in ~/Library/Services.
Now open System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts, locate services in the first column and then the name of your Automator service. From here you add your keyboard shortcut and test it out.