Windows: How To Show Hidden Files and Folders


Our Brian Burgess shows you how to show hidden files and folders in any version of Windows XP and up — all the way to Windows 8.

By default Windows hides a lot of files and folders — this is, Microsoft says, to prevent a user from accidentally deleting something important. I don’t know about you, but I want to show hidden files and folders. You need this when troubleshooting or tweaking.

Here’s how to do show hidden files and folders in any version of Windows. That means Windows XP and higher, up to and including Windows 8. For my example, I use Windows 7.

First, check out my user folder below. What if I needed to go into the AppData folder to tweak a program or retrieve IM logs? Notice it does not appear.


To show the hidden directories, click Start and type: folder options

Hit Enter.


The Folder Options window opens. Select the View tab. Under Advanced Settings, select Show Hidden Files, Folders and Drives. Click OK.


That’s it. Notice the AppData folder is now showing up just fine. Hidden files, folders and drives display as semi-transparent icons.


For power users, not being able to see hidden files and folders is a real impediment. You can’t really tweak or troubleshoot without getting access to them. Now you’re able to.


  • @Ant Pruitt: Yep. It’s definitely a beginner tip — good for new users or people switching from Mac to Windows.

    It’s one of the first things I set when I do a fresh install or get a new PC.

  • No such thing as beginners. Just some geeks are older than others, LOL! At 35, you know a lot, Brian : ) Thanks, Ant, we so appreciate your commentary on site. The most important thing is to drive community. If you ever have a freeware recommendation or app of the day, send it over and you can guest post!