In the question above i was trying to pose an example. I don't know how effective I was in doing so... I just want to understand how there can be what appear to be "hidden" files that exist. Are they in fact hidden? Or are they attributes of a program? How does one access all the .files?

Any information would be enlightening. Thanks in advance!


2 Answers 2


I am not sure what you are asking exactly.


A files or directories are "hidden" if they start with a ".".

On the command line you can view them with ls -A and from nautilus (your file browser) by showing hidden files Ctl + H or from the menu

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Your path is where the system looks to find commands.

echo $PATH

You can set a path , typically in ~/.bashrc

  • this is perfect, thank you! You answered both parts of my question, which were (1) what the period before file names meant and (2) how you would go about seeing these files if you so chose to. Thanks again!
    – RafLance
    Jan 12, 2012 at 6:00

I think you're misunderstanding the concept. In Unix, by convention, filenames starting with . are considered hidden - i.e. some programs, such as ls or GUI file managers do not display those files. Those files often used to store program settings or other stuff which user normally don't want to see.

This is just a convention and there's nothing magical about those files.

Unlike Windows, Unix does not rely on "file extensions", i.e. a 3-character suffixes after a dot at the end of a filename, to determine the type of the file (i.e. NOTEPAD.EXE etc).

So, in Unix "program.attribute" is just a normal filename, not like a program named "program" has some magical attributes which you can access by specifying "program.attributename"

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