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How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Chris Hoffman
How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10Chris Hoffman
Editor-in-Chief

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Windows hides many files and folders by default, preventing users from deleting or modifying files they shouldn’t touch. But you can make Windows show these hidden files by changing a single setting.

It’s easy to make any file hidden, too. Just right-click it, select “Properties”, and toggle the “Hidden” attribute on or off. On the ribbon on Windows 8 and 10, click the “Hide selected items” button to quickly make files and folders hidden or visible.

Show Hidden Files on Windows 8 and 10

This option is easily accessible in File Explorer on Windows 8 and 10.

Click the “View” tab on File Explorer’s ribbon and click the “Hidden items” checkbox in the Show/hide section. File Explorer will immediately show hidden files and will remember this setting until you change it.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Show Hidden Files on Windows 7

This option is a little more hidden on Windows 7, where it’s buried in the Folder Options window.

Click the “Organize” button on Windows Explorer’s toolbar and select “Folder and search options” to open it.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Click the “View” tab at the top of the Folder Options window. Select “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” under Hidden files and folders. Click “OK” to save the new setting.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

This options window is also accessible on Windows 8 and 10—just click the “Options” button on the View toolbar in File Explorer. But it’s quicker to easily toggle hidden items on or off using the ribbon.

This window is also accessible via the Control Panel on any version of Windows. Head to Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Folder Options. On Windows 8 and 10, it’s named “File Explorer Options” instead.

View Protected Operating System Files on Windows 7, 8, and 10

Windows has two different types of hidden files: Normal hidden items, and protected operating system files. When you show hidden files and folders, Windows will continue to hide protected operating system files. These are hidden files with the “system” attribute.

These files are “protected” for a reason. They’re important system files and deleting or modifying them could damage your operating system, potentially even making Windows unbootable. But, if you know what you’re doing and you need to view these protected operating system files, there’s a setting you can change. We don’t recommend doing this unless you know you need to access one of these files or folders for some reason.

First, open the Folder Options window. On Windows 8 and 10, click the “Options” button on the View toolbar. On Windows 7, click Organize > Folder and search options.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Click the “View” tab. Uncheck the “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” box.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Windows will warn you that deleting or editing protected operating system files could break your operating system. If you know what you’re doing, click “Yes” to continue.

Click “OK” to save your settings. Windows will show you protected operating system files as well as normal hidden files.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Return to the Folder Options window and re-enable the “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” checkbox if you ever want to hide these files once again.

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How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10 Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

A computer operating system is an incredibly complicated thing. To work properly, they need hundreds or thousands of different files. But how to show hidden files if you faced this issue however you desperately need to access these files?

On Windows PCs, many of these critical files and folders are hidden from view by default. This prevents a careless user from accidentally modifying or deleting them, which could lead to dangerous errors.

Often, we have to look at these files for legitimate reasons. They are required for troubleshooting some issues. That said, we don’t recommend that beginners go messing around with hidden files – not unless it’s absolutely necessary and you can’t find a professional in time.

For instance, if you need to view hidden files inside the ‘Program Data’, ‘App Data’ or ‘Default’ User folders, it is necessary to make hidden files and folders visible.

If you are confident in your computer skills or are a power user, you should definitely know how to show hidden files on Windows 10, 8 or 7. There are, in fact, a couple of approaches to it.

So, let’s go over both for the most popular versions of Windows currently in use. We will even list instructions for how to see hidden files on Windows 11, for those of you who have jumped ahead and upgraded. However, before we start we strongly recommend you to use backup software of your choice to back up your important data just in case.

Here is how to show hidden files in Windows 10, 8, 7 and even 11:

Step 1: Open the Control Panel

The Control Panel is where all the important settings are located. Keep in mind that this is different from the Settings App founded in Windows 10 and newer versions. The Settings menu does not have file explorer settings, so make sure you are on the actual Control Panel.

To launch the control panel, open the start menu and type ‘Control Panel’ into the search box. It should be the first result at the top of the list. Just click on it to launch it and proceed to view hidden files.

If your control panel does not look like the image, you can change the view using the ‘View By: ___’ dropdown menu on the top right. There are normally 3 options: Category, Small Icons and Large Icons. The image given below shows the Category view.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Step 2: Find the File Explorer Options

In Windows, the app/program for viewing all the files including hidden files is called the File Explorer. So, we are looking for the File Explorer settings. In the control panel’s category view, it will be under ‘Appearance and Personalization’.

Select ‘Appearance and Personalization’, then find the ‘File Explorer Options’ link. When you click it, it will bring up a separate, smaller pop-up window with various options and settings for the file explorer.

Step 3: Go to the View Tab

The File Explorer Options menu has 3 tabs: General, View and Search. The view settings are what we are looking for.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Under the ‘Advanced Settings:’ box, there will be a lot of options. You can set options for showing icons and menus, thumbnails, compact views, etc. Don’t get distracted by all these, though. The main option you are looking for will have a folder icon, labelled ‘Hidden Files and Folders’.

Under that, there are just two options: ‘Don’t Show-’, and ‘Show hidden files, folders and drives.’. By default, ‘Don’t Show’ will be selected. Simply change it to ‘Show’, then hit ‘Apply’.

Press ‘Okay’ to close the window, and you are done! You can now show hidden hidden files!

Step 4: Check if Hidden Files and Folders are Visible

If you want to check if the hidden files and folders have been successfully made visible, there is an easy way to check. Open the File Explorer and go to the C: drive where Windows is installed.

If you carried out all the steps successfully, a new folder named ‘Program Data’ will be visible just below ‘Program Files’! The icon of this folder will be semi-transparent to denote that it is normally a hidden folder.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

That’s it! Now you know how to show hidden files. However, some alternative approaches are much easier to use. We will cover them now.

Alternative Way of How to Show Hidden Files on Windows 10, 8 and onwards.

The above method works for all versions of Windows. However, with newer versions, Microsoft has increasingly begun to make such options easier to access for users.

In Windows 8, 10 and 11, you don’t have to go through the control panel anymore. You can do so if you prefer it that way, but there is also an easier approach.

The updated file explorer now has a ribbon at the top with a variety of options. If this ribbon is not visible, then click on the small downwards arrow next to ‘?’ on the far-right corner.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

As you can see, on the right side in the ‘Show/Hide’ section, there is an option called ‘Hidden Items’. Checking that will make hidden files and folders visible.

In Windows 11, the interface has been updated to be more minimalistic. However, all the options are still available. Clicking on ‘View’ brings up a drop-down menu. At the bottom of the menu, inside ‘Show’, we have the ‘Hidden Icons’ option. Checking it will make hidden files visible.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Final Words

Now you know how to show hidden files on Windows. Be careful with this feature, as these files are hidden for a reason. Unless you are a power user, we advise leaving them hidden until necessary. If there is any issue that you are trying to troubleshoot or solve, then make the files visible and hide them again later when the job is done.

This is one of the biggest advantages of Windows PCs. On Linux computers, critical files are always in plain view, while on Mac, it’s the opposite – they are extremely difficult to access, this is one of the most distinctive features that is different in Mac and Windows. Windows occupies a very helpful middle-ground. Showing hidden files is a very useful tool, so use it wisely! Also, a general advice, make sure your computer drivers are always up to date. That’s how you can improve the productivity of your PC.

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How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Windows is one of the most popular Operating Systems of all time, and millions of people around the world daily use it. One of the main reasons why Microsoft Windows is so popular is that it comes with tons of promising features which enhance the overall experience. Hidden Files or Folders is the privacy features in Windows, which allow the users to hide certain files, and they only show when you enable the hidden files check from the settings. If you are interested in hiding your files or you want to show hidden files and folders in your windows, this guide is for you. In this guide, we will share the step-by-step tutorials on how you can show hidden files and folders in Windows 10, 8, and 7. Let’s get started.

How to Show Hidden Files and Folders in Windows 10, 8, and 7 ?

Hidden Files, Folders, or Drive is the feature that basically allows the users to hide their personal Files, Folders, or Drives from the other users on the systems. When a user Hide any file, folder, or drive, the system hides it and won’t show it to the users on the system.

However, it’s an important thing to note here that the system only hides it from the display. The system doesn’t keep it in an encrypted folder or anything, which means that if your system gets compromised, the hacker will still be able to access the Hidden Files, Folders, or Drives. So, if you really want to protect your important documents or files, we would recommend you to store them in cloud storage. Now that you know how Hidden Files works on Windows let’s get to the step-by-step tutorials on how you can show them on our Windows PC.

How to Show Hidden Files and Folders on Windows 7

Windows 7 was one of the most popular versions of Windows, and it was launched back in 2009. This version of Windows is known for its ease of use which is why still thousands of Windows PCs and Laptops use this version of Windows. If you also have Windows 7 and want to show the Hidden Files and Folders on your PC, here’s how you can do it.

  • Open the Folder section of your PC.
  • Now find the Organize section in the toolbar and click on it.
  • The system will show you the tray. Click on Folder and Search Options.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

  • Once you are in the Folders Options, go to View Tab.
  • Here you will find tons of options. Navigate to the Show Hidden Files, Folders, and drives section and check it blue.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Now go back to the folders, and you will see all the hidden files, folders, and drives. If you want to hide them again, follow the same steps but this time, check the “Don’t Show Hidden Files, Folders, and drives” from the view tab.

How to Show Hidden Files and Folders in Windows 8

Windows 8 is the successor of Windows 7, and it was launched back in 2012. The biggest highlight of Windows 8 was that it was redesigned, and it had a very different look than its predecessor. In Windows 8, the company made sure that all the features are more accessible to the users. Also, the User Interface of Windows was improved a lot. If you have Windows 8 and want to show hidden files and folders in Windows 8, you can follow the following procedure to do it.

  • Open the File Explorer or any folder on your Windows 8 PC.
  • Now find the View tab in the explorer ribbon and click it.
  • The system will show the various options, find the Hidden Items section on the menu and check it.
  • That’s it.

Once you check the Hidden Items box, the system will start showing all the hidden files, Folders, and Drives in your system.

How to Show Hidden Files and Folders in Windows 10

Windows 10 is the latest version of Windows, and it’s also the finest version of Windows you can get these days. It was launched back in 2015, and it has improved a lot over the years. The good thing about Windows 10 is that it regularly gets updated, and the company is also investing a lot of manpower and money in improving Windows 10. Now, when it comes to the process of hiding files and folders on Windows 7, 8, and 10, it’s very simple and easy. Here’s how you can do it.

  • Go to any folder on your PC.
  • Find the View tab on the explorer ribbon and click it.
  • Now check the Hidden Items option.
  • That’s it.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Now the system will start showing the Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives on your PC. If you ever wish to hide the Files, follow the same steps but this time, uncheck the Hidden Items option.

Should I save my sensitive documents as Hidden Files on Windows PC?

You can surely save your sensitive documents on your Windows PC, but if you want the best security for your documents, we would recommend you to go for secure cloud storage. Alternatively, you can get encrypted cloud storage in Password Manager, which you can use to store your sensitive documents and files.

How to protect my PC from Viruses?

If you want to protect your PC from Viruses, you can use a good Antivirus. Now there are many good Antivirus Software available, and you can find the best ones in our Guide for Best Free Antivirus Software for PC.

Conclusion

That’s all, folks. In this guide, you learned how you can show hidden files and folders in Windows Windows 10, 8, and 7. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments. Also, if you are interested in emulators, check our guide where we have shared the Best Android Emulators for PC and Mac.

There are situations when you need to view hidden system files and folders, especially when performing system maintenance.

Windows hide important files and folders by default; this is done to protect these files and prevent users from modifying or deleting files that could damage their systems. There are a few reasons you might need to view hidden files on your Windows PC. Whatever the reason, you can easily show hidden files in Windows 10, 8, and 17 by following the steps below.

Windows 10 and 8

1. Right-click the Windows Start menu then click File Explorer.

2. Click the View tab located in the top-left.

3. Select Options on the right side or click the down arrow and select Change folder and search options.

4. In the Folder Options window that appears, click the View tab to locate Advanced settings.

5. In the “Advanced settings” section of the window, scroll down and locate Hidden Files and Folders then click the Show Hidden Files and Folders radio button.

6. Click Apply, then OK to save the changes.

Windows 7

1. Right-click the Windows Start menu then click File Explorer.

2. Select Organize located in the top-left.

3. From the drop-down menu, click Folder and search options.

4. In the Folder Options window that appears, click the View tab

5. In the “Advanced settings” section of the window, under Hidden files and folders, click Show hidden files, folders and drives radio button.

6. Click Apply, then OK to save the changes.

Windows XP

1. Click the Windows Start menu then click Computer.

2. Click Tools on the menu and click Folder Options.

3. In the “Folder Options” window, click the View tab.

4. In the “View” tab, under Advanced Settings, click Show hidden files, folders and drives.

5. Click Apply, then OK to save the changes.

Tip: If you do not want to see hidden files in Windows, select the Don’t show hidden files, folders and drives option in Advanced Settings.

Note: Hidden files appear fainter and slightly grayed compared to other files to indicate that they are not typical files. When you locate the hidden files you are looking for, do not make any changes to them because some files are critical to certain system utilities or programs. Modifying or deleting them could negatively impact your computer.

Find files are hidden from your USB drive/HDD/SSD? Read this article carefully to learn how to show hidden files using command lines in Windows 11/10/8/7.

By Dervish / Last Updated September 26, 2021

Quick Navigation:

The issue: files not showing in USB

“I had files stored on a flash drive. They were in folders and some were out of folders. The contents of the folders are showing empty; although the size of the properties describes them as containing files of size consistent with their original content.

I have used chkdsk /f and it said that it found problems and fixed them. That did not restore the missing files. Why are things so complicated? I am using Windows 7 but I also have access to a Windows 10 computer. Please help!”

The problem of files not showing in external hard drive happens now and then. It could be caused by hidden files, corrupted file system, virus attack and so on. Then, how to show hidden files in Windows 11/10/8/7? Command Prompt, a built-in tool in Windows, can give you a hand.

How to show hidden files using command lines?

Actually, there are two kinds of command lines which can help to show hidden files: dir command and attrib command. Learn how to show hidden files in CMD below:

Way 1: view hidden files with dir command

1. Hit Windows Key + X on your keyboard, and select Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu.

2. Type dir F: /a:h /b /s and press Enter to show hidden files in drive F. You should change the drive letter according to your situation.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Tips:
▪ /a:h—displays the names of the directories and files with the Hidden attribute; the colon between “a” and “h” is optional;
▪ /b—displays a bare list of directories and files, with no additional information;
▪ /s—lists every occurrence of the specified file name within the specified directory and all subdirectories.

3. Type exit and press Enter to exit Command Prompt.

You can only view hidden files in the Command Prompt window by using dir command. To unhide those files from specific drive, please learn how to show hidden files via command from Way 2.

Way 2: show hidden files with attrib command

1. Open Command Prompt as you do in Way 1.

2. Type attrib -h -r -s /s /d F:\*.* and press Enter to unhide hidden files in drive F. Replace the drive letter with yours.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Tips:
▪ -h—clears the Hidden file attribute; -r—clears the Read-only file attribute; -s—clears the System file attribute;
▪ /s—applies attrib and any command-line options to matching files in the current directory and all of its subdirectories;
▪ /d—applies attrib and any command-line options to directories.

3. Type exit and press Enter to exit Command Prompt. You can then see the hidden files in corresponding drive.

Extra tips for fixing hidden files on external hard drives

As mentioned in the first part, corrupted file system can lead to files not showing. If you fail to fix the issue via dir command and attrib command, you can check and fix disk errors with a handy freeware AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. It supports all Windows PC operating systems like Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP. Follow the instructions below to fix a corrupted external hard drive via AOMEI Partition Assistant:

Step 1. Connect the external drive to your computer and make sure it is detected. Download, install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant.

Step 2. Right click on the partition of the drive, select “Advanced” and then “Check Partition”.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Step 3. You’ll see three check options. Choose the first one and click “OK”.

Check partition and fix errors in this partition by using chkdsk.exe

Check partition for errors by using chkdsk.exe

Check whether there is bad sector on the partition

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Step 4. Wait for the process to be completed. Click “OK” when it’s done. Corrupted file system can be fixed in this way, so you can see hidden files again from File Explorer.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Verdict

Now you know how to show hidden files using command lines in Windows 11/10/8/7. You can also use AOMEI Partition Assistant to fix corrupted file system, thus retrieving hidden files. Apart from checking and fixing disk errors, AOMEI Partition Assistant allows you to permanently assign drive letter and fix unformatted hard drives. Why not give it a try at once?

Don’t know how to show hidden files? Then this article will help you learn how to unhide them back. Actually, Windows computer keeps many files and folders hidden by default. This is done to prevent users from accidentally modify or remove some important files from the system. Although, these hidden files and folders in Windows can be exposed in few simple steps. We Will teach you how to show hidden files and folders in Windows 7, 8, and 10.

In Windows, you can also hide any file or folder you wish in just a couple clicks and same hidden content can be unhid by a single method that we are about to share you.

Hiding a folder/file is done in a pretty same way on all the Windows versions.

  • Simply Right-Click on the file or folder.
  • Click on “Properties” located at the bottom most in the list.
  • Toggle or check the “Hidden” option (Hide Single file).

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

  • Or, Checkbox to enable “Hidden” feature, choose to hide only single folder or including sub-files and folders inside it (Hide Folder with Subfolder and Files).

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

  • Click “OK” to confirm the changes.

Now, if you hide any file or folder following the above method, the hidden files are kept as same files hidden by default. These hidden folders can be unhid by the same method but that varies slightly according to the Windows version.

Here is how to find and view hidden files and folders in various Windows computer.

How to Show Hidden Files and Folders in Windows

Windows 8 and 10 shares comparatively the same ecosystem while Windows 7 has a slightly different environment. So, the procedure to open hidden files and folders is also different in Windows 7.

Let’s start off with the Windows 7.

Show Hidden Files and Folders in Windows 7:

The option to find hidden files or folders is a little deeper inside Windows 7. That is hidden in Folder Options window. However, digging out the option is way much easy. Once you know the method, you won’t forget it anymore.

Step 1: Open “My Computer” or “Windows Explorer” toolbar.

Step 2: Click on the “Organize” button located on the top-left corner of the window, right below the Arrow buttons.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Step 3: From the drop-down menu, click on “Folder and search options.”

Step 4: A pop-up windows will appear, click on “View” tab next “General” tab.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Step 5: Now, locate and enable the “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” option under the ‘Hidden files and folders.’

Step 6: To confirm the settings, click on “OK” and close.

This same window of “Folder Options” can be opened in Windows 8 and 10. However, using the ribbons makes it even quicker than anything else.

Show Hidden Files and Folders in Windows 7:

In Windows 8 and 10, it is even easier to open hidden files and folders. Adding t that easy option, you can also take a long trip alternatively. Well, in any version of Windows, this alternative little-long procedure works as same. What you have to do in this method is –

  • Firstly, Open Control Panel.
  • Then click on “Appearance and Personalization” option.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

  • Finally, drop in “Folder Options.” On this window, you can see “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” option which is to be enabled.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

The above method may work for all the Windows versions but is quite long.

Show Hidden Files and Folders in Windows 10:

If you are on Windows 8 or 10, you should prefer a shorter method.

Follow the below instructions to get it done quickly.

Step 1: Firstly, open your “My Computer” or “Windows Explorer.”

Step 2: Next, tap on “View” tab from the top-left corner. of the window.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Step 3: Locate the ribbons with three folder options as such ‘Item check boxes,’ ‘File name extensions,’ and ‘Hidden items.’

Step 4: Tick or enable the “Hidden items” option as seen in the below image.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Enabling the option will open the hidden files and folders in Windows 8 and 10. If you re-hide the files, simply disable the same option. That’s quite a piece of cake.

That’s how you can show hidden files and folders in Windows 7, 8, and 10. We hope you have learned to hide the files as well so that you can keep your private files and folders invisible from sneaking hands.

If you have any queries regarding hiding and showing files or folders on Windows, do leave us a comment.

Benj Edwards
How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10Benj Edwards
Associate Editor

Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. 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. Read more.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Windows 11 handles hidden files and folders almost identically to versions of Windows that came before it: with special file flags. Showing these hidden files in File Explorer is easy. Here’s how.

First, launch File Explorer by opening Start and searching for “File Explorer,” or by clicking the File Explorer icon in your taskbar if it’s pinned there.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

When File Explorer opens, click the ellipses (three dots) button in the toolbar near the top of the window. In the menu that appears, select “Options.”

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

In the “Folder Options” window that opens, click the “View” tab.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

In the “Advanced Settings” list, locate the “Hidden Files and Folders” option. Using the radio buttons, select “Show hidden files, folders, and drives.” Then click “OK” at the bottom of the window.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Hidden files and folders will instantly become visible in File Explorer and on your desktop. When you see them, their icons will have a slightly translucent or faded appearance.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

If you want to hide them again later, use “Options” in File Explorer to open Folder Options again, click “View,” select “Don’t show hidden files, folders, or drives,” and click “OK.”

How to Show Protected Operating System Files in Windows 11

In Windows, there’s another type of hidden file: a system file, which is hidden and protected by default to keep your operating system working properly. If you’d like to see this type of hidden file, open File Explorer, click the “three dots” button in the toolbar, then select “Options.”

In the Folder Options window, click the “View” tab, then scroll down in the “Advanced Settings” list and uncheck “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).”

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

As soon as you click the check box, a new dialog window will open that warns you about the dangers of revealing protected operating system files.

If you know what you’re doing and are willing to accept the risks, click “Yes.”

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Then close the Folder Options window by pressing “OK.” As with the hidden files revealed in the section above, protected operating system files will appear translucent on your desktop and in File Explorer.

When you’re done with your task, it’s usually a good idea to hide your protected operating system files again. To do that, open Folder Options as shown above, click the “View” tab, then place a checkmark beside “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” and click “OK.” Good luck!

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How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10 Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. 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.
Read Full Bio »

Help! Today I tried to move several photos from my external hard drive, but the drive appears to be empty when I opened it. However, Windows Explorer shows that 17GB of space is occupied from my hard drive. What is happening?

The case above reveals a common problem facing by thousands of electronic device users. The missing files are possibly hidden, which could happen due to mistaken setting, virus attack, system corruption and many more reasons. Don’t panic when you find a disk drive is empty. In this article, we are going to learn 4 methods to recover hidden files from USB drive, laptop, hard drive or SD card.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

How Are Files Hidden

  • Files hidden in Windows PC due to wrong setting
  • Files hidden in internal hard drive due to mistaken operation
  • Files hidden in USB drive or memory card due to corruption or virus attack

Among all the cases, extra handling shall be applied only when you believe virus infection has happened. Please make sure to scan the infected disk drive with spyware removal software before trying the methods below.

Method 1. How to Show Hidden Files in Windows 10/8/7

In Windows PC, users can manually hide the files or folders that they don’t want anyone else to see, but some people could forget it. In this case, we can choose to show hidden files in Windows Explorer.

For Windows 10 and 8

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

  • Step 1. Open the folder which is supposed to contain the hidden files.
  • Step 2. On the menu bar, click View tab, then tick the box Hidden items.
  • Step 3. Check the same folder for hidden files.

The change will apply to all hidden files and items on your Windows 10/8 computer. If you want to hidden a specific item again, just right-click on it, choose Properties, then tick the box of Hide.

For Windows 7

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

  • Step 1. Open Windows Explorer, click Organize button on the toolbar, then choose Folder and search options.
  • Step 2. Click View tab, select Show hidden files, folders, and drives under Hidden files and folders.
  • Step 3. Untick the box Hide protected operating system files.
  • Step 4. Click OK to apply the setting.

This method also applies for files manually hidden in removable disk drives, like external hard drive, USB drive and memory card.

Method 2. How to Recover Hidden Files (100% Working)

Whether your files are somehow hidden due to various reasons, or you have deleted the folder and files, a good data recovery software can help you restore them easily.

RePicvid Data Recovery is the best software to recover photos, videos, audio, documents, archive files, etc. With this easy-to-use program, you will recover hidden files from USB drive, SD card or hard drive in Windows & Mac like a breeze.

Why Choose RePicvid Data Recovery:

  • Support over 150 types of files, including photos, videos, documents, audio and more files. as well as SD card, hard drive, USB flash stick.
  • Full and free preview before recovery.
  • Multiple filtering options to ensure fast and accurate data recovery.
  • Highest recovery rate with original quality.
  • Easy 3-step recovery. No technique required.

Follow the steps below to recover hidden files:

Step 1. Run RePicvid and Choose a Recovery Mode

You will see three options (Photo/Multimedia/Office) and the All button on the main screen of the program. Please check the sample file formats on the three sections. Click any of the four options to continue.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Step 2. Select a Partition to Scan for Hidden Files

Check all the detected disk drives, including the internal and external hard drives and connected removable disks. Select the drive where your files were hidden, then click Scan button to proceed.
Tips: You can also click Advanced Settings to specify the file formats you want to recover.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Step 3. Preview and Recover Hidden Files

Once the scanning is completed, you can click the file types on the left pane and preview the found files on the right so that you know what you will recover. Check only the files you need, then click Recover button to recover hidden files from USB drive, SD card or hard drive.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Method 3. Recover Hidden Files from USB with Command Prompt

The above two methods should work for most cases. However, if you’d like to try more solutions, the CMD utility in Windows is worth a try.

  • Step 1. Click the Start menu, type CMD, then right-click on Command Prompt and choose Run as administrator.
  • Step 2. In Command Prompt, type the following command (replace G with the drive letter of the disk that contains the hidden files):
    attrib -h -r -s /s /d G:\*.*
  • Step 3. Hit Enter after typing the command above.
  • Step 4. Re-connect the drive (if it is removable) and check the hidden files.

Method 4. Show Hidden Files with CHKDSK Command

Similar to the Command above, CHKDSK is another command for recovering hidden files. This command will check the target disk drive and try to fix possible errors so that the hidden files will appear again.

  • Step 1. Run Command Prompt as administrator as described in Method 3.
  • Step 2. Type chkdsk G: /f /r /x and hit Enter. (G is the drive letter of the disk that contains the hidden files)
  • Step 3. Wait for a while to see if you can find the hidden files.

Command Prompt can actually do further, such as recovering corrupted SD card with DISKPART command, if the CHKDSK command doesn’t work for you.

Bottom Line

In this tutorial, we have learnt 4 methods to recover hidden files from USB drive, memory card and computer hard drive. It is important to know the location of the hidden files to avoid time wasting. In addition to the solutions in this article, you can also hide and unhide files with file encryption software by adding a lock. Feel free to tell us in the comment if you have any questions or opinions.

Windows usually hides plethora of files and folders by default, preventing you from modifying or deleting files that you should not touch. But you can easily make Windows show those hidden files by just changing a single setting.

It’s kind of easy to hide any file too. You just need to right-click on it, select the icon “Properties”, and turn the “Hidden” option on. On the actual ribbon on Windows 10 and 8, just click on the “Hide selected items” icon to quickly make the files and folders hidden or visible.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Steps to Show Hidden Files on Windows 10 and 8:

This option is very easily accessible in the File Explorer on Windows 10 and 8.
Now, click on the “View” tab in the File Explorer’s ribbon and then click the “Hidden items” checkbox in the Show/hide section. File Explorer would immediately show the hidden files and would remember this setting until you just change it.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Steps to Show Hidden Files on Windows 7:

Well, this option is just a little more hidden on Windows 7. As a matter of fact, it is buried in the Folder Options window in your PC.
To find it, just click on the “Organize” button on Windows Explorer’s toolbar and then just select “Folder and search options” to open it.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Now, click on the “View” tab at the top of the Folder Options window. Then, select “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” under the Hidden files and folders. Lastly, click “OK” to save the new setting.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

This options window can also be also accessible on Windows 10 and 8—all you need to do is just click on the “Options” button situated on the View toolbar in the File Explorer. But it’s little more quick to easily turn hidden items on or off just using the ribbon.

Interestingly, this window is also accessible through the Control Panel in any version of Windows. The Head to Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Folder Options. On Windows 8 and 10, it’s just named “File Explorer Options” instead.

How to View Protected Operating System Files on Windows 7, 8, and 10

Windows has invariably two different types of hidden files: Normal hidden items, and the protected operating system files. When you show the hidden files and folders, Windows would continue to hide the protected operating system files. These are the hidden files with this “system” attribute.

As a matter of fact, these files are being “protected” for a definite reason. They’re quite important system files and deleting or modifying them can damage your operating system, potentially even making the Windows unbootable. But, if you know what you are upto and you need to view those protected operating system files, then there is a setting that you can change. It is not recommended to this unless you actually know that you need to access one of those files or folders for some particular reason.

Firstly, open the Folder Options window. On Windows 10 and 8, click on the “Options” icon situated in the View toolbar. On Windows 7 just, click Organize > Folder and then search options.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Now, click the “View” tab. Then, uncheck the “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” box.

How to show hidden files and folders in windows 7 8 or 10

Windows would warn you that deleting or editing protected operating system files can break your operating system. But, if you know what you’re doing, then just click “Yes” to continue.

Finally, click “OK” to save your settings. Windows would show you protected operating system files as well as the normal hidden files.

Then, return to the Folder Options window and then re-enable the “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” checkbox if you want to hide those files once again.

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