Showing Hidden Files on Windows

How to Show Hidden Files on Windows 7, 8 & 10

Hidden files are exactly what the name suggests: files that have been hidden. These files won't show up in File Explorer unless you explicitly enable the feature that allows you to view them.

Although it might sound like a hidden file or folder has been hidden with some deceitful intent, usually files are hidden for good reason. In many cases, it's by software so that they aren't accidentally deleted or changed by non-technical end-users. For example, a file that saves settings for an application might be hidden so that the user of the application doesn't stumble upon that file and - not knowing what it is - move it to the Recycle Bin. In that case, the user would lose all of their configurations and preferences for the application the file relates to.

Anyway, enough about what hidden files are and why they're used. All you want to do is know how to show them. See help for your operating system below.

Windows 10

All you'll need to do to be able to see hidden files and folders in Windows 10 is open up File Explorer, go to the View tab, and and check Hidden items:

Enabling hidden files in Windows 10

Windows 8

On Windows 8 and 8.1, all you'll need to do is:

  1. Press WINDOWS (the start menu key) + Q to open the search menu (you might need to press it a second time)
  2. Search for Folder Options in the search box
  3. Open the Folder Options application that appears in the search results (it might be named File Explorer Options)
  4. Click on the View tab
  5. Check Show hidden files, folders, and drives, which is under Advanced settings and hit OK
  6. Voila!

Windows 7

  1. Open up the start menu
  2. Go to the control panel
  3. Go to Appearance and Personalization
  4. Check Show hidden files, folders, and drives, which is under Advanced settings and hit OK
  5. Hidden files will now be visible!