Mac OS X 10.4: Invisible files become visible after NetInstall or restoring from a disk image

After performing a NetInstall or restoring Mac OS X from a disk image, you may see certain files and folders at the root level of the Mac OS X volume that are not supposed to be visible, such as etc, tmp, and var. This article explains how to prevent these items from becoming visible.

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

In Mac OS X 10.3 and earlier, these items are made hidden (invisible) by listing them in a file named ".hidden" at the root level of the Mac OS X volume. Mac OS X 10.4 and later do not use this method to hide files. Instead, Mac OS X 10.4 and later hide files by setting certain attributes in the files themselves. However, in some circumstances these attributes are not preserved when you create, restore or Netinstall a disk image.

To avoid the issue, make sure that the computer used to create the disk image is running Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later, and that you perform a block-copy restore. In general, this means selecting the option to erase the destination disk when performing a restore or Netinstall. For more information on block-copy vs. file-copy restores, open Terminal and type: man asr .

If these files are visible on the target machine after restoring or NetInstalling, you can make them invisible again with these steps:

Important: These steps must be performed while started up in Mac OS X 10.4.6 or later.

1. Insert your Mac OS X 10.4 installation disc.
2. Open Terminal and type the following commands, each on one line:

cd /Volumes/Mac\ OS\ X\ Install\ DVD/


cd System/Installation/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg/Contents/Resources/
sudo ./SetHidden / hidden_MacOS9

Note: Do not type type any command other than what's presented in this article. Also, restart the machine after the command has been given.

Note: If the name of your installation DVD is not "Mac OS X Install DVD", substitute the name of your disc in the first command of step 2 above, or drag the disc's icon to the Terminal window after typing the first "cd " command to set the initial path.

Note: You can also copy the "SetHidden" file from the Installation DVD to a local directory. If you copy it, be sure that you also copy the "hidden_MacOS9" file to the same location. This file contains the list of files to mark as invisible.

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