How To Show Hidden Files on Linux


Hidden files in Linux are like secret compartments in a room—they hold important stuff, but you can’t see them at first glance. These files and directories are cleverly tucked away because they often contain configuration settings and sensitive data that most users don’t need to fiddle with regularly.

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But what if you do need to access these hidden treasures? That’s where this guide comes in handy. We’re going to show you several ways to reveal these hidden files on your Linux system, using simple and straightforward methods. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced user, this article will help you uncover the hidden secrets of your Linux files and directories. Let’s get started!

Explanation of hidden files and directories

Hidden files and directories in Linux serve important purposes. They often contain configuration settings for programs and applications. These settings help software run smoothly, but they don’t need constant attention from users. That’s why these files are hidden by default; it keeps the clutter out of your everyday view.

Why some files are hidden in Linux (e.g., configuration files)

Configuration files hold crucial information about how programs work. Editing them without knowledge can lead to problems, so they are hidden to prevent accidental changes. You don’t want to accidentally mess up your software settings, right?

Importance of occasionally viewing hidden files

Even though these files are hidden, sometimes you need to peek inside. Maybe you’re troubleshooting an issue, or you want to tweak a program’s settings. That’s when knowing how to reveal hidden files becomes useful. In this guide, we’ll show you simple ways to do just that, so you can access and manage these hidden files when you need to.

Show Hidden Files on Linux using ls

If you want to see hidden files on your Linux system, you can do it easily using the trusty ls command. Here’s how:

Introduction to the ls command for listing files:

The ls command is like a magic wand for listing files and directories in your Linux terminal. It helps you see what’s in a folder. Normally, it doesn’t show hidden files, but we’ll show you a trick to change that.

Explanation of the -a or –all option to display hidden files:

To make ls show hidden files, you need to use a special option. It’s called -a, which stands for “all.” You can also use --all if you prefer the long way. This option tells ls to reveal all the files, including those sneaky hidden ones.

Practical examples of using ls -a to reveal hidden files in a directory:

Now, let’s see how it works. Suppose you’re in a folder, and you want to see all the files, including the hidden ones. Just open your terminal and type:

ls -a

Hit Enter, and voila! You’ll see all the files, both the regular ones and the hidden ones, listed right there in your terminal.

Remember, those hidden files start with a dot (.) in their names. So, when you use ls -a, you’ll be able to spot them easily. It’s a handy trick when you need to work with those important but usually hidden files on your Linux system.

Show Exclusively Hidden Files using ls

Sometimes, you might want to see only the hidden files and nothing else. No worries, Linux has got you covered. Here’s how:

Introduction to viewing only hidden files with ls:

The ls command is a versatile tool, and you can use it to view hidden files exclusively. This means you’ll see only those secret files that start with a dot (.) in their names. It’s handy when you’re focused on managing these special files.

Demonstration of ls -d . to exclusively list hidden files:*

To view only the hidden files, you can use a special command. Open your terminal and type:

ls -d .*

Hit Enter, and like magic, you’ll get a list of all the hidden files in that folder. No regular files or directories will clutter your view—just the hidden ones.

Explanation of the -d option and how it changes the behavior of ls:

Now, let’s talk about the -d part of the command. This option tells ls to show information about directories themselves, not what’s inside them. When we combine it with .*, we’re essentially saying, “Show us the hidden files and directories, but don’t go inside the directories to show their contents.”

This way, you get a clean and exclusive list of hidden files, without any distractions. It’s a nifty trick for when you want to focus solely on those secret files in your Linux system.

Show Hidden Files on Linux using find

If you’re on a mission to find hidden files across your Linux system, the find command is your trusty detective. Let’s dive into how it works:

Introduction to the find command for searching files:

Think of the find command as a searchlight that scans your entire Linux system for files and directories. It’s incredibly useful when you’re hunting for hidden files, and it can pinpoint them wherever they’re hiding.

Using find with the -type f and -name options to locate hidden files:

To specifically find hidden files with find, you can use two helpful options: -type f and -name. Here’s how they work:

  • -type f narrows down the search to only files (not directories). Hidden files are, of course, files, so this is handy.
  • -name lets you specify the name pattern you’re looking for. Since hidden files have names that start with a dot (.), you can use this option to search for them.

Practical examples of finding hidden files in different directories:

Now, let’s put this into action. Suppose you want to find all the hidden files on your system. Open your terminal and try this:

find / -type f -name ".*"

This command tells find to start searching from the root directory (/) and look for hidden files with names starting with a dot. It’ll search your entire system, so be patient.

You can modify the starting directory (e.g., /home/yourusername) to search in specific places. This flexibility makes find a powerful tool for uncovering hidden files on your Linux system, no matter where they’re hiding.

Show Hidden Directories using find

Hidden directories in Linux are like secret rooms within a house, and sometimes you want to uncover them using the find command. Here’s how you can do that:

Introduction to locating hidden directories with find:

Just like find helps you find files, it’s also great at locating hidden directories. Hidden directories are those that have names starting with a dot (.), making them less visible to regular users. With find, you can shine a light on these hidden gems.

Using find with the -type d and -name options to find hidden directories:

To pinpoint hidden directories using find, you’ll use two essential options: -type d and -name. Here’s what they do:

  • -type d instructs find to search specifically for directories.
  • -name lets you specify the name pattern of the hidden directories. Since they start with a dot (.), you can use this option to identify them.

Examples of searching for hidden directories within specific paths:

Let’s say you want to find all the hidden directories within a particular folder, like your home directory. Open your terminal and try this:

find /home/yourusername -type d -name ".*"

In this command, replace /home/yourusername with the path to the directory you want to search within. It tells find to start the search there, and it will uncover all the hidden directories within that path.

You can adapt this command to search in other locations on your Linux system as needed. Whether you’re exploring your home directory or scanning the entire system, find is your reliable flashlight to reveal those hidden directories.


Hidden files and directories in Linux may be discreet, but they hold significant importance in managing your system’s configuration and settings. This guide has shown you various ways to unveil these hidden treasures using simple commands like ls and find.

By learning how to reveal hidden files and directories, you gain more control and flexibility when working with your Linux system. Whether you’re troubleshooting issues, tweaking configurations, or simply exploring what’s under the hood, these techniques are valuable tools in your Linux journey.

So, the next time you need to access or manage hidden files, you won’t be in the dark. With the knowledge gained from this guide, you’ll navigate your Linux system with confidence and discover the hidden secrets it holds. Happy exploring!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are hidden files in Linux?

Hidden files in Linux are files and directories whose names begin with a dot (.) character. They are typically used to store configuration settings and other system-related information.

Why are some files hidden in Linux?

How do I show hidden files using the ls command?

Can I view only hidden files using ls?

How do I find hidden files with the find command?

How can I search for hidden directories using find?

Are there other ways to view hidden files in Linux?

Can I modify or delete hidden files?

Is there a way to hide files or directories in Linux?

What should I do if I accidentally delete a hidden file?

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