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How to View Hidden Files and Folders in Windows

There are many reasons why you may want to view hidden files and folders in Windows. For instance, you may be seeking to maintain a specific system file that is currently hidden, you may want to access a data folder, or may want to reveal a file that was purposely hidden by someone else.

For whatever reason you want to view hidden files and folders in Windows we’re here to help. The guide on this page will help answer questions about hidden files and folders and will show you how to hide and view folders in Microsoft Windows.

What are hidden files and folders?

Hidden files and folders are files and folders that have the hidden attribute turned on so that they are not visible to those viewing a list of files or folders. They are frequently created by various system utilities.

windows hidden folder

What is the purpose of hiding files and folders?

The purpose of hiding files and folders is to keep your computer productive and safe from instances such as accidental deletions or instructions. Many system utilities and applications create hidden files and folders by default and Windows keep important folders like ProgramData and AppData hidden to avoid any potential intrusions.

Windows 11

  1. Open File Explorer from the taskbar.
  2. Select View Show Hidden items.

Windows 10

  1. Open File Explorer from the taskbar.
  2. Select View Options > Change folder and search options.
  3. Select the View tab and, in Advanced settings, select Show hidden files, folders, and drives and OK.

Windows XP, 7, and 8

1. Open Window’s start menu.

2. Type “folder options” in search and press Enter.

Type "Folder Options"

3. Select View > Hidden files and folders > Show hidden files, folders, and drives.

Show Hidden Files And Folders

4. Click the Apply button on the bottom of the window, then click OK.

Lead Editor

Sean is a tech author and engineer with over 20 years of experience in cybersecurity, privacy, malware, Google Analytics, online marketing, and other topics. He is featured in several publications.

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  • I’ve done that a gazillion times & still can’t get all my picture folders. They show up in File Explorer but I can’t copy/paste them from there.

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