How to display all hidden or protected operating system files and folders

Often as a troubleshooting step it is necessary to see files and folders that Microsoft has hidden by default.  This solution discusses how to display these hidden files and folders.
Follow the instructions below for your operating system to see hidden files and folders:

Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2:
  1. Open the folder or directory in which you wish to display hidden files
  2. Select the View tab
  3. Click the drop down for Options and select "Change folder and search options"
  4. Select the View tab
  5. From the Advanced settings menu, mark the "Show hidden files, folders, or drives" and uncheck "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)"
  6. Click OK
NOTE: You may also display file extensions from the Advanced Settings menu by unchecking the "Hide file extensions for known file types" box

Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008:
  1. Open the folder or directory in which you wish to display hidden files
  2. Click the drop down for Organize and select "Folder and search options"
  3. Select the View tab
  4. From the Advanced settings menu, mark the "Show hidden files, folders, or drives" and uncheck "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)"
  5. Click OK
NOTE: You may also display file extensions from the Advanced Settings menu by unchecking the "Hide file extensions for known file types" box

Environment

 Windows 7 (32-bit);Windows 7 (64-bit);Windows 8 (32-bit);Windows 8 (64-bit);Windows 8.1 (32-bit);Windows 8.1 (64-bit);Windows 10 (32-bit);Windows 10 (64-bit);Windows Server 2008 (32-bit);Windows Server 2008 (64-bit);Windows Server 2008 R2;Windows Server 2012;Windows Server 2012 R2

Was this article helpful?