On every operating system I have used (Ubuntu, Fedora, Windows, and Mac OS X), there has been a standard for hidden files. Initially I thought that this feature was simply to hide some files from view when looking at a directory listing, but it seems that this may not be the only reasoning.

What is the reasoning behind an OS having the "feature" of hidden files?


Hidden files aren't important.

Oh, of course, they run your OS and store your configuration, so without them you'd be a bit stuck, but you don't need to see them. They're pretty unimportant to you. People care about things that have a use to them, so hiding the things that don't is a good move from a usability standpoint, to reduce information saturation.

  • This is an interesting perspective on "importance" of files. Thank you for the mental shift. – user3463 Jan 24 '11 at 23:43

One of the main reasons is to avoid PEBKAC errors -- inexperienced users deleting and modifying files when they don't know their purpose. If you can do something to save yourself a large percent of support calls, I'd suggest doing it :)

  • If you can link back to the original comic strip that introduced the world to PEBKAC, I'll give you +1. – user3463 Jan 24 '11 at 23:41
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    @Randolph Potter I don't know which one was the original, but this one (and derivatives) have been around for ages : img192.imageshack.us/img192/7793/pebkaccomicstrip.gif :) – John T Jan 24 '11 at 23:51
  • Good enough for me. That's the one I was thinking of. – user3463 Jan 24 '11 at 23:52
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    "PICNIC" error, problem in chair not in computer – Moab Jan 24 '11 at 23:59
  • That's a new one (to me anyway). I like it. – user3463 Jan 25 '11 at 7:52

My guess would be: to stop average users from deleting important files.


So if you remove folder with system files then they would be gone too. Thats for windows. Anyways thats an old bad way. Not important to know to get computer working.

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