How do I view hidden files in Windows?

Updated: 04/26/2017 by Computer Hope

Windows logoTo view hidden files in Microsoft Windows, select your version from the list below and follow the steps.

View hidden files in Windows 8 and 10

  1. Press the Windows Key+ E.
  2. In the window that appears, select the View tab in the top left-hand corner.
  3. Locate and click Options on the right-hand side or click the down arrow and select Change folder and search options.

Windows 8 Folder Options

  1. In the Folder Options window that appears, select the View tab.
  2. Locate the Advanced settings: section of the window.
  3. Under Hidden files and folders, select Show hidden files, folders and drives.
  4. Click Apply, then OK.

Tip: If you do not want to see hidden files in Windows, select the Don't show hidden files, folders and drives option in step 6 above.

Tip: See additional information for further information and related questions.

View hidden files in Windows Vista and Windows 7

  1. Press the Windows Key+ E.
  2. In the window that appears, click Organize in the top left-hand corner.
  3. From the drop-down menu, select Folder and search options.
  4. In the Folder Options window that appears, select the View tab.

Windows Folder Options

  1. Locate the Advanced settings: section of the window.
  2. Under Hidden files and folders, select Show hidden files, folders and drives.
  3. Click Apply, then OK.

Tip: If you do not want to see hidden files in Windows, select the Don't show hidden files, folders and drives option in step 6 above.

Tip: See additional information for further information and related questions.

View hidden files in Windows XP

  1. Click the Start Button and then My Computer.
  2. Click Tools and then Folder Options.
  3. Within the Folder Options window click the View tab.
  4. In the View tab, under Advanced Settings, select Show hidden files, folders and drives.
  5. Click Apply, then OK.

Tip: If you do not want to see hidden files in Windows, select the Don't show hidden files, folders and drives option in step 4 above.

Tip: See additional information for further information and related questions.

Additional Information

How do I know if it worked?

When enabled, you can distinguish a hidden file from other files by looking at the icon, which should appear more faint (slightly grayed out like the hidden.txt file below). You can also look at the file attributes or file properties to see if the file you're viewing is a hidden file.

Windows hidden file

Note: It is important to realize that files can also be hidden using a software program or other commands. To view these files, you need access to the program used to lock the files. Files may also have file permission rights that allow or prevent users from viewing the files. To view these files, you must be given the appropriate rights by the administrator.