How to Show or Hide Hidden Files and Folders

Hide or show hidden files & folders in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, & XP

Man hiding in filing cabinet reading document with magnifying glass
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Hidden files are usually hidden for good reason - they're often very important files and being hidden from view makes them harder to change or delete.

But what if you want to see those hidden files?

There are many good reasons you might want to show hidden files and folders in your searches and folder views, but most of the time it's because you're dealing with a Windows problem and you need access to one of these important files to edit or delete.

On the other hand, if hidden files are, in fact, showing but you instead want to hide them, it's just a matter of reversing the toggle.

Fortunately, it's really easy to show or hide hidden files and folders in Windows.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

How to Show or Hide Hidden Files and Folders in Windows

  1. If you're comfortable with the command line, there's a faster way to get this done. See the More Help... section at the bottom of the page and then skip down to Step 4.

    Screenshot of Control Panel
  2. Select the Appearance and Personalization link.​ 

    If you're viewing Control Panel in a way where you see all the links and icons but none of them are categorized, you won't see this link - skip down to Step 3.

    Screenshot of Appearance and Personalization in Control Panel
  3. Select the File Explorer Options (Windows 10) or Folder Options (Windows 8/7) link.

    Screenshot of File Explorer Options in Appearance and Personalization
  4. Select the View tab in the File Explorer Options or Folder Options window.

    Screenshot of View tab in File Explorer Options
  5. In the Advanced settings: section, locate the Hidden files and folders category.​ 

    You should be able to see the Hidden files and folders category at the bottom of the Advanced settings: text area without scrolling down. You should see two options under the folder.

    Screenshot of Hidden Files and Folders in File Explorer Options
  6. Choose which option you want to apply.​ Don't show hidden files, folders, or drives will hide the files, folders, and drives that have the hidden attribute toggled on.​ Show hidden files, folders, and drives lets you see the hidden data.

  7. Select OK at the bottom of the File Explorer Options or Folder Options window.

  8. You can test to see if hidden files are actually being hidden in Windows 10/8/7 by browsing to the C:\ drive. If you do not see a folder named ProgramData, then hidden files and folders are being hidden from view.

These $NtUninstallKB folders contain information needed to uninstall updates you've received from Microsoft. While unlikely, it's possible you might not see these folders but may still be configured correctly to view hidden folders and files. This might be the case if you've never installed any updates to your operating system.

More Help With Hidden File Settings

A faster way to open File Explorer Options (Windows 10) or Folder Options (Windows 8/7/Vista/XP) is to enter the command control folders into the Run dialog box. You can open the Run dialog box the same in every version of Windows - with the Windows Key + R key combination.

The same command can be run from Command Prompt.

Also, please know that hiding hidden files and folders is not the same as deleting them. Files and folders that are marked as hidden are simply no longer visible - they're not gone.