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

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.


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.


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.

Last Modified: Jun 12, 2012
  • Last Modified: Jun 12, 2012
  • Article: TS1979
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