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Definition: dot file

A Unix file name that begins with a period, which designates the file as hidden from normal view. In Unix, the ls command displays the file names in the current folder. The -a switch shows the hidden files with dot prefixes.

Show Hidden Dot Files
In this Mac OS X example, the ls commands (blue arrows) display the contents of the root directory. The -a parameter in the bottom example shows all the dot files that were hidden in the top example.