How To View and Troubleshoot Hidden Files & Folders in Windows

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To view hidden files and folders in the latest versions of Windows, including Windows 11 and Windows 10, follow these instructions:

Viewing Hidden Files in Windows 11 and Windows 10

To view hidden files and folders in Windows 11 and Windows 10, you can follow these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer:
    • Click on the File Explorer icon on the taskbar or press Windows key + E.
  2. Show Hidden Items in Windows 11:
    • Select View from the menu at the top of the window.
    • Click on Show to expand the options.
    • Check Hidden items to display hidden files and folders.
  3. Show Hidden Items in Windows 10:
    • Select the View tab on the ribbon at the top of the File Explorer window.
    • Click on Options to open Folder Options.
    • In the Folder Options window, switch to the View tab.
    • Under Advanced settings, find and select the option labeled Show hidden files, folders, and drives.
    • Click OK to apply the changes and close the Folder Options window.

Note: Hidden files and folders will now be visible in File Explorer, but they will appear slightly faded compared to regular files. This indicates their hidden status.

Viewing Hidden Files in Windows 8.1

To access hidden files and folders in Windows 8.1, follow these instructions:

  1. Access the Search Function:
    • If using a touchscreen, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, then select Search.
    • If using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then select Search.
  2. Search for Folder Options:
    • Type “folder” in the search box.
    • Select Folder Options from the search results.
  3. Modify View Settings:
    • In the Folder Options window, navigate to the View tab.
    • Under Advanced settings, select the option Show hidden files, folders, and drives.
    • Click OK to apply the changes.

Viewing Hidden Files in Windows 7

For users operating on Windows 7, the process to view hidden files is as follows:

  1. Open Control Panel:
    • Click the Start button, then select Control Panel.
    • Choose Appearance and Personalization.
  2. Access Folder Options:
    • Select Folder Options.
    • Switch to the View tab in the Folder Options window.
  3. Show Hidden Files:
    • Under Advanced settings, find and select Show hidden files, folders, and drives.
    • Press OK to save your settings.

After completing these steps, hidden files and folders will be visible in the respective versions of the Windows operating system.

Resolving Issues with Showing Hidden Files in Windows

Users may encounter issues when attempting to view hidden files in Windows. Here are some solutions for common problems:

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Show Hidden Files Not Working

This issue can manifest in two ways: either the option to show hidden files can’t be checked, or hidden files remain invisible even after the option is selected.

  • Alternative Ways to Show Hidden Files: If the regular methods through File Explorer fail, using Command Prompt is another option.
    • Type attrib -h -r -s /s /d g:*.* in Command Prompt run as administrator. Replace “g” with the appropriate drive letter.
  • System File Checker Tool: This built-in Windows tool can repair missing or corrupted system files.
    • Open Command Prompt as administrator and enter DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth followed by sfc /scannow.
  • Adjusting the Registry: Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\Folder\Hidden\SHOWALL in the Registry Editor and set “CheckedValue” to 1. Caution is advised as incorrect registry modifications can lead to serious system issues.

Missing Folders or Files After Updates

Sometimes, updates to Windows can result in missing files or folders. Solutions include:

  • Check the hidden files location for the missing items.
  • If files are still not found, consider using data recovery software.

Using Data Recovery Software

If you’re unable to view hidden files due to system errors or virus infections, data recovery programs can be a last resort.

Uninstalling Antivirus Software

Occasionally, antivirus programs can interfere with file visibility. Disabling or uninstalling your antivirus software might resolve the issue.


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