The Invisible Magic of the Dot File
Mac Tip #362, 29 October 2008
Try an experiment, and you’ll discover something magic about your Mac: it has invisible friends.
Here’s what you do:
- Open up TextEdit (in the Applications folder). A blank window appears where you can type text.
- Type the word Test (or any other text you feel like, but don’t bother making it too long).
- Choose Save from the File menu. Just to keep us all on the same page in the next set of instructions select the Desktop as the place to save this file.
- Save the file with the name
test.txt. Look in your Desktop folder in the Finder and you’ll see the file.
- Now choose Save As and give the file exactly this name:
.atest.txt. Notice this new filename starts with a dot (a fullstop).
- Click the Save button on the Save dialog box. Ah! An alert appears:
Names that begin with a dot “.” are reserved for the system. If you decide to go ahead and use a name which begins with a dot the file will be hidden.Go ahead and save the file.
- Look in your Desktop folder in the Finder. Look, ma! No file named
.atest.txt. Because the filename begins with a dot the system has hidden it from you.
The next Tip will explain how to see these invisible files.