chflags - macOS


The chflags command in macOS is used to change the file flags on filesystem objects. These flags can modify how the system behaves towards these objects, such as locking files, making files immutable, and hiding items in Finder. This command is particularly useful for system administration, security purposes, and file management tasks.


The basic syntax for the chflags command is:

chflags [options] flags file...
  • flags: Specifies the flags to be set or cleared. It can be a symbolic name or an octal value.
  • file…: One or more files or directories upon which the flags will be changed.


  • -R: Recursively change flags of directories and their contents.
  • -H: If the command argument is a symbolic link, change the flags of the linked file rather than the link itself.
  • -L: If the command argument is a symbolic link, follow the link to its destination.
  • -P: If the command argument is a symbolic link, do not follow it (default behavior).


  • nohidden: Make file or folder visible in Finder.
  • hidden: Hide file or folder from being visible in Finder.
  • uchg: Set the user immutable flag (file cannot be changed).
  • nouchg: Clear the user immutable flag.
  • schg: Set the system immutable flag (file can’t be modified without booting to single-user mode).
  • noschg: Clear the system immutable flag.


  1. Hiding a file in Finder:

    chflags hidden somefile.txt

    This command will make ‘somefile.txt’ invisible in the Finder.

  2. Making a file immutable:

    chflags uchg importantfile.txt

    This command prevents ‘importantfile.txt’ from being deleted or modified by the user.

  3. Applying flags recursively:

    chflags -R hidden somefolder/

    This makes ‘somefolder’ and all its contents hidden in Finder.

Common Issues

  • Permission Denied: Users might encounter this if they do not have the necessary permissions to modify the file flags. This can be solved by prefixing the command with sudo to run it as an administrator:

    sudo chflags hidden somefile.txt
  • Flags not taking effect: This might be due to incorrect flag names or misuse of symbolic links. Ensure the correct option is used to handle symbolic links (-H, -L, -P).


chflags can be combined with other commands for powerful scripting and management tasks. For example:

  • Find and hide all backup files recursively:
    find /myfolder -name "*.backup" -exec chflags hidden {} \;

    This command searches for all files with a ‘.backup’ extension in ‘/myfolder’ and hides them in Finder.

  • ls: Use with the -lO flag to display file flags.
  • chmod: For changing file permissions, which differ from file flags.
  • chown: To change file owner, often used alongside chflags for managing file properties securely.

For additional information, refer to the chflags man page by typing man chflags in the Terminal, or visit the Apple Developer Documentation.