Various Mac tricks

This is my per­son­al col­lec­tion of com­mand line tricks on Mac OS X that I found indis­pens­able. The list is far from com­plete, and may be added to in the future.

Show hidden files in Finder

> defaults write AppleShowAllFiles true
> killall Finder

The first line sets the pref­er­ence for the Find­er to show hid­den files, while the sec­ond line restarts the Find­er so the set­ting comes in effect. As an alter­na­tive for the last line, select the Find­er in the Cmd-Alt-Escape pop­up and select “Relaunch”. I found this one on the Mozil­la knowl­edge base [2].

Delete all .DS_Store files

> sudo find / -name ".DS_Store" -print -delete

If hid­den files are enabled in the find­er, you will soon make con­tact with the infa­mous “.DS_Store” files that the desk­top ser­vice lit­ters around as you browse the filesys­tem. This is annoy­ing. Use the above com­mand to delete those suck­ers. The “-print” is in there just so you can mon­i­tor the progress.

Prevent .DS_Store files on network mounts

> defaults write DSDontWriteNetworkStores true

Although there is no method to gen­er­al­ly stop “.DS_Store” files, at least you can pre­vent desk­top ser­vices from pol­lut­ing net­work mounts. Win­dows users on the same net­work will be glad! This trick is pub­lished in the Apple knowl­edge base [3].

Disable Spotlight indexing for a given volume

> sudo mdutil -i off /mountpoint

This com­mand will dis­able index­ing for the vol­ume under /mountpoint (for instance /Volumes/MyExternalHarddisk). Under MacOS X 10.5 and lat­er, it also deletes any par­tial index cre­at­ed up to this point. There is one caveat: The enable/disable infor­ma­tion is itself stored inside the “.Spot­light-V100” direc­to­ry, so do not delete that, and be care­ful when back­ing up to anoth­er dri­ve. More infor­ma­tion is found in [1].

[1] The X‑Lab, “Spot­light tips”,

[2] Mozil­laZine, “Show hid­den files and folders”,

[3] Apple Sup­port, “Mac OS X v10.4 and lat­er: How to pre­vent .DS_Store file cre­ation over net­work connections”,…

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