Most files on your Mac have a file extension at the end of their name that helps people and apps know what type of file it is. By default, macOS hides these extensions, but you can show or hide them on a file-by-file basis. Here’s how.

First: Know About the Master Switch

Before you try to show or hide individual file extensions, you should know whether Finder is configured to show or hide all file extensions on your Mac.

To check, focus on Finder and select “Finder” > “Preferences” in the menu bar. Click “Advanced,” then notice whether “Show all file extensions” is checked or unchecked.

In Advanced Finder Preferences, place a check mark beside "Show all filename extensions."

  • If “Show all filename extensions” is checked, you will see all filename extensions by default. There’s no way to override this setting on individual files.
  • If “Show all filename extensions” is unchecked, you can override this preference and see extensions on an individual, file-by-file basis, which we’ll cover in the section below.

Regardless of the “Show all filename extensions” setting, it appears that files saved to the “Downloads” folder will always have their extension shown. It is possible to hide these extensions individually using the method below if “Show all filename extensions” is disabled. This is likely a conscious security feature by Apple.

How to Hide or Show Extensions on Specific Files

Here’s how to show or hide an individual file extension if “Show all filename extensions” is disabled in Finder. First, locate the file whose extension you’d like to show or hide in a Finder window. Select the file, then choose “File” > “Get Info” from the menu bar. (Or you can press Command+i on your keyboard.)

When the “Get Info” window pops up, scroll down until you see the “Name & Extension” section. (Click the carat beside the header to expand it if necessary.) Then check or uncheck “Hide extension.” If you uncheck it, the extension will be visible. If checked, the extension will be hidden.

In the file's Get Info window, check or uncheck "Hide extension."

If checking or unchecking “Hide extension” has no effect, then it’s likely that “Show all filename extensions” is enabled in Finder. To see that option, refer to the section above. When you’re done, close the file Info window. Repeat as necessary for any files whose extension you’d like to see.

RELATED: What Is A File Extension?

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Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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