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A hidden file is a file which has the hidden attribute turned on so that it is not visible to users when exploring or listing files. Hidden files are used for storage of user preferences or for preservation of the state of utilities. They are created frequently by various system or application utilities. Hidden files are helpful in preventing accidental deletion of important data.
Most operating systems provide ways to hide files and file directories. However, in most operating systems, file management utilities allow users to explore hidden files. Software applications are also available for hiding and unhiding files and file directories.
In the case of Apple computers, the files are hidden with the help of the ResEdit utility. In the case of Microsoft operating systems, hidden files appear as faint icons or ghost icons. In most operating systems, one can hide files by turning on the special hidden attribute.
There are few reasons for applications and operating systems supporting the hidden file concept. One of the main reasons is to reduce the probability of users accidentally deleting, modifying or corrupting critical configuration or system files. It also prevents casual snoopers from accessing files which are important for the user or the network. Another reason is that hiding files and objects helps in reduction of visual clutter in the file directories and helps users in easy and convenient locating of files and directories.