Bash Shell: Display All Hidden Dot Files In a Directory

Posted on in Categories , , , , , , , , , , , , , last updated November 9, 2012

How do I display only hidden (dot) files names under Linux / UNIX / Apple OS X / *BSD family operating systems?

You can view only hidden files or directories in the current directory, using ls command and shell patterns.

Bash list only hidden files

Use ls -a command to display all hidden dot files. The -a option do not hide entries starting with . in the current directory or given path. Type the following command:

$ ls -a

Sample outputs:

gimp.txt                                                .viminfo
.gnome                                                  vivek-feed.xml
.gnome2                                                 .vlc
.gnome2_private                                         .vmware
.gnome-desktop                                          .wine
.gnome_private                                          Woh Lamhe - 2006-MP3-VBR-128Kbps
go.html                                                 .Xauthority

As you see output includes all the files including hidden dot files. To just display dot files use any one of the following command:
$ ls -a | egrep '^\.'
$ ls -A | egrep '^\.'

$ ls -l ~/.[^.]* | less
$ ls -ld ~/.[^.]*
$ ls -l ~/.??*
$ ls -ld ~/.??*
Sample outputs:

You can create an alias and put into your ~/.bash_profile or ~/.bashrc file:
$ vi ~/.bash_profile
Append the following line:
alias lh='ls -a | egrep "^\."'
alias lh='ls -l .??*'
alias lhd='ls -ld .??*'

Save and close the file. Now you can use lh or lhd commands to display only hidden dot files under Unix like operating systems.
$ lh
$ lhd
Sample outputs:

Fig.01: HowTo: use terminal ls command to see hidden dot files
Fig.01: HowTo: use terminal ls command to see hidden dot files

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

8 comment

  1. If you use grep you will lose formatting (multi-column) and colour.

    If you use “ls -Ad .*”, it will show you all hidden (dot) files and retain the formatting and colour. The “-d” argument is used to only show the top-level files and not contents of hidden directories.

    Thanks for the tip, I didn’t know about the -A argument.

  2. I have some files I hid using ‘chflags hidden MyHiddenFolder’. When using ‘ls -la’ the hidden files and folders show a @ symbol next to it. After doing some research I found out that is for signifying Extended Attributes.

    When doing a ‘ls -@’ you can see that the files I changed with ‘chflags’ to hidden have a “”. Do you know a way to ‘ls’ for files with Extended Attributes and more specifically just the ones that are hidden? Other files can have Extended Attributes and not be hidden.

    Basically I wanted to clean up my Finder views by hiding files and folders I don’t use often and don’t want to see. However, I want to have a way to find all files/folders I have done that to so I have a way to go over which ones I have done that to.

  3. **Warning** with ‘alias lh='ls -l .??*' you will not see file with only one character after the dot, as for example `.a` or `.b`…
    So instead of

    alias lh='ls -l .??*'
    alias lhd='ls -ld .??*'

    it is better
    alias lh='ls -lA | egrep " \." '
    alias lhd='ls -ldA | egrep " \." '

Leave a Comment