How to see hidden files in Windows: What is a hidden file?

How to see hidden files in Windows: First let us understand what is a hidden file.

What is a hidden file?

Hidden files are files that exist on a computer and don’t appear when exploring. It is a file with a special hidden attribute turned on, in such a way that the file is invisible to users. Most file management utilities will allow you to view hidden files. A hidden file is primarily used to help prevent important data from being accidentally deleted or modified by the user.

For example, DOS hides some files, e.g MSDOS.SYS and IO.SYS, hence you will not accidentally corrupt them. One can also turn on the hidden attribute for any normal file, making it invisible to casual snoopers. On a Macintosh, you can hide files with the ResEdit utility.

Files can be hidden using a software program or commands. One can access the files by accessing the program used to lock them. Some files may also have permission rights that allow or prevent users from viewing them, the rights can only be given by the administrator or superuser.

The user can choose whether a file is hidden or visible by changing its properties.

One can do this though:
1.    Right-click a file icon,
2.    Click Properties.
3.    Then, Attributes,
4.    Select the Hidden checkbox,
5.    Click OK.
What is a hidden file?
When a file is hidden and would like to display it, you will be required to show all hidden files to see it.
hidden file 2
The Hidden checkbox selected for a file.

How to see hidden files in Windows.

Windows hide some files by default from being seen with Windows Explorer or My Computer.

These files are hidden to protect them from being accidentally deleted or modified by the user. The files are usually system files. Spyware, Viruses, and hijackers often hide their files this way making it difficult to find them and delete them.

Follow the steps below for the version of windows you have in order to change the behavior of the operating system so that you can see hidden and protected files. Therefore you will be able to replace or delete files for troubleshooting reasons.

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How to see hidden files in Windows 95

To see or view Hidden files in Windows 95, follow the steps below:
1.    Close all programs to remain with the desktop.
2.    Double-click on My Computer icon.
3.    Select the View menu and then click Options.
4.    After the new window appears select the View tab.
5.    Scroll down until you see the Show all files radio button and select it.
6.    Press the OK button and close the My Computer window.
7.    Now your computer is configured to show all hidden files.

How to see hidden files in Windows 98

To enable Hidden files in Windows 98 follow the steps below:
1.    Close all programs to remain with the desktop.
2.    Double-click on My Computer icon.
3.    Select the View menu and then click Folder Options.
4.    A new window will open, select the View tab.
5.    Scroll down until you see, Show all files radio button and select it.
6.    Press Apply button and then OK button and close My Computer window.
7.    Your computer is configured to show all hidden files.

How to see hidden files in Windows ME

How to enable the viewing of Hidden files in Windows ME follow the steps below:
1.    Close all programs.
2.    Double-click on My Computer icon on the desktop.
3.    Select Tools menu and click Folder Options.
4.    A new window will open, select the View tab.
5.    Under the Hidden files and folders section select the radio button labeled Show hidden files and folders.
6.    Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide file extensions for known file types.
7.    Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide protected operating system files.
8.    Press Apply button and then OK button and close My Computer window.
9.    Your computer is now configured to show all hidden files.

How to see hidden files in Windows NT

How to enable hidden files in Windows NT follow the steps below:
1.    Close all programs.
2.    Double-click on My Computer icon on the desk top.
3.    Select the View menu and then click Options.
4.    A new window appears, select the View tab.
5.    Scroll down until you see Show all files radio button and select it.
6.    Press OK button and shutdown My Computer window.
7.    Your computer is now configured to show all hidden files.

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How to enable hidden files in Windows 2000

To enable the viewing of Hidden files in Windows 2000 follow the steps below:
1.    Close all programs.
2.    Double-click on the My Computer icon on the desktop.
3.    Select Tools menu and click Folder Options.
4.    A new window appears, select the View tab.
5.    Under the Hidden files and folders section select the radio button labeled Show hidden files and folders.
6.    Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide file extensions for known file types.
7.    Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide protected operating system files.
8.    Press the Apply button and then click OK button and shutdown My Computer window.
9.    Now your computer is configured to show all hidden files.

How to see hidden files in Windows XP and Windows 2003

To enable viewing of Hidden files in Windows XP and Windows 2003 follow the steps below:
1.    Close all programs.
2.    Double-click on the My Computer icon on my desktop.
3.    Select the Tools menu and click Folder Options.
4.    A new window appears, select the View tab.
5.    Put a checkmark in the checkbox labeled Display the contents of system folders.
6.    Under the Hidden files and folders section select the radio button labeled Show hidden files and folders.
7.    Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide file extensions for known file types.
8.    Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide protected operating system files.
9.    Press the Apply button and then the OK button and shutdown My Computer.
10.    your computer is now configured to show all hidden files.

How to see hidden files in Windows Vista

To enable viewing of Hidden files in Windows Vista follow the steps below:
1.    Close all programs.
2.    Click on the Start button.
3.    Click on the Control Panel menu option.
4.    When the control panel opens you can either be in Classic View or Control Panel Home view:

If you are in the Classic View do the following:
a) Double-click on the Folder Options icon.
b)  Click on the View tab.
c)   Go to step 5.

If you are in the Control Panel Home view do the following:
d)  Click on the Appearance and Personalization link.
e)    Click on Show Hidden Files or Folders.
f)    Go to step 5.

5.    Under the Hidden files and folders section select the radio button labeled Show hidden files and folders.
6.    Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide extensions for known file types.
7.    Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide protected operating system files.
8.    Press the Apply button and then the OK button.
9.    Windows Vista is now configured to show all hidden files.

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How to see hidden files in Windows 7

To enable viewing of Hidden files in Windows 7 follow the below steps.
1.    Close all programs.
2.    Click on the Start button.
3.    Click on the Control Panel menu option.
4.    When the control panel opens click on the Appearance and Personalization link.Appearance and Personalisation
5.    Under the Folder Options category, click on Show Hidden Files or Folders.How to see hidden files in Windows 7
6.    Under the Hidden files and folders section select the radio button labeled Show hidden files, folders, or drives.

Hidden files folder
7.    Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide extensions for known file types.
8.    Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide protected operating system files.
9.    Press the Apply button and then the OK button.
10.    Windows 7 is now configured to show all hidden files.

How to see hidden files in Windows 8

To enable viewing of Hidden files in Windows 8 follow the steps below.
1.    From the Windows 8 Start Screen, click on the Control Panel app.
2.    When the Control Panel opens scroll down to the bottom and click on the More Settings option.
3.    The traditional Windows 8 Control Panel will now open. When it is open, click on the Appearance and Personalization link.
4.    Under the Folder Options category, click on Show Hidden Files or Folders.
5.    Under the Hidden files and folders section select the radio button labeled Show hidden files, folders, or drives.
6.    Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide extensions for known file types.
7.    Remove the checkmark from the checkbox labeled Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).
8.    Press the Apply button and then the OK button..
9.    Windows 8 is now configured to show all hidden files.
NB: You will see icons that were invisible. The most common file you would see is desktop.ini. These are legitimate files and can be ignored.