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Display Hidden Folders in XP

[This tip is for beginners only.] By default, Windows XP keeps important system files and folders hidden to keep people from deleting files they shouldn’t.

To show hidden files, open Control Panel and double-click on Folder Options.

 

Click on the View tab, and then click the radio button for “Show hidden files and folders”

Now when you go back into explorer you will see additional folders you were not able to see previously.

Note: For those of you who want to tweak and hack on XP, looking closer at this list you will see a checkmark next to “Hide protected operating system files”.

To show protected system files, just uncheck this box and a warning confirmation dialog box will appear. Click Yes to verify and you will then have access to system files and folders.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/26/07

Comments (31)

  1. Kripalu Das

    On Vista, someone created a reg tweak that allowed you to right-click in any folder and choose to show hidden files and folders. Since I found Vista to be a buggy and bloated waste of time that really is only beta-ware at best, I’ve gone back to XP and it’s speed and stability (as compared to Vista). Now, if I could just find a similar reg tweak to add a quick way to turn Hidden Files and Folders (and protected System Files) on and off as quickly and easily.

    Has anyone found a way to do this? I hate going into the Folder Options dialog and scrolling the option each time. Even with an icon for Folder Options added to the Explorer tool bar, it is still too many clicks for as often as I need to do this.

    KD

  2. mysticgeek

    Kripalu,

    You can create a shortcut on your desktop that will automatically bring up Folder Options. Just right click on your desktop >> New>> Shortcut. Now in the Create Shortcut box type in “control folders” (without the quotes) click on Next. This will create a executable file control.exe … just double click on this shortcut and the Folder Options window will pop up. I hope this helps.

  3. Anand

    I cant open a hidden folder in my documents… Its very important to me… I tried all the alternatives but nothing worked.. There is no folder option in my control panel or no options in the tools option also.. I cant create a shortcut as it says action restricted and i am only the administrator.. Its the xp service pack 3 Im using with the vista look.. Please help me n tell me how can the hidden folder be displayed.. Thnx

  4. mysticgeek

    Anand,

    Have you tried typing in “control folders” (without quotes) into the run line?

    Also, what ‘Vista Look’ are you referring to? Is this theme you added on?

    You mention XP Service Pack 3. I assume your talking about Office XP service pack 3.

    Here are some things you can try:

    First of all make sure your control panel in set to “classic View”

    Next click on the Standard Buttons tool bar and click “customize” add the Folders options icon
    from the Available tool bar buttons to Current tool bar buttons and then close. You will have the icon
    in the Standard Tool bar now.

    Another thing you might want to look at if your comfortable doing so, is in your registry.

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

    and check to see if you have DWORD “NoFolderOptions” set to 1 .. if so set it to 0 or delete the entry.

  5. ROHAN

    i tried very much but there is no folder option in control panel and tools

  6. mysticgeek

    ROHAN,

    The first question is are you using XP? Did you have the options previously and are they now gone? Are you looking at control panel in “Classic View”.

    Have you tried typing in “control folders” (without quotes) into the run line?

    I would try these and the steps on the reply to Anand and see where you end up. Please let us know how it goes. There are more options to try as well, but getting more information on what you have tried and the results always helps enormously in troubleshooting.

  7. shaila

    mysticgeek, got the folder options icon onto the standard toolbar in control panel but nothing happens when i click on it. what to do?

  8. mysticgeek

    Shaila,

    I would try some of the other options mentioned in the other posts above. Try running from the command line, or make the change in the registry (if your comfortable doing so).

    Another thing to check is if your running XP in administrator mode or not. It’s possible your user account has this function locked by your IT Admin

  9. harshavardhan

    i m using windows xp…i m not able to view the hidden files and folders….i tried the way posted above…its not working…is it a virus….i m able to see the folder options in the control panel but not able to view hidden folders…pls help me through….thank u….

  10. Umair

    heelo i am using windows xp sp3 in folder options i select “show hidden files and folders but they are not shown anyone can help me please my email is umairnaeem_90@hotmail.com

  11. MOhsin

    i m using windows xp…i m not able to view the hidden files and folders….i tried the way posted above…its not working…is it a virus….i m able to see the folder options in the control panel but not able to view hidden folders…pls help me through….thank u

  12. nishant

    same problem as Rohan’s ..
    tried everything stated above!
    nothing works.
    get that folder options icon in toolbar but nothing happens if i click that.
    and yes i m the administrator

  13. louie chua

    theres no more folder option in my computer like literaly no more folder options tab i i click tool theres no more folder options in the drop down menu whats the solution?

  14. Vijay

    Hi.i am using windows xp…i m not able to view the hidden files and folders….its not working…is it a virus ?… .i m able to see the folder options in the control panel but not able to view hidden folders…pls help me through….thank u….

  15. Syed Muhammad Owais Qadri

    i m using windows xp…i m not able to view the hidden files and folders….i tried the way posted above…its not working…is it a virus….i m able to see the folder options in the control panel but not able to view hidden folders…pls help me through….thank u

  16. sabdar hussain

    im using windows xp…i m not able to view the hidden files and folders….i tried the way posted above…its not working…is it a virus….i m able to see the folder options in the control panel but not able to view hidden folders…pls help me through….thank u

  17. Priyanka

    m using windows xp…i m not able to view the hidden files and folders….i tried the way posted above…its not working…is it a virus….i m able to see the folder options in the control panel but not able to view hidden folders…pls help me through….thank u

  18. Vijay Anand

    I have followed the above steps but am unable to see my hidden files. When i click the folder options again, i see that the option has reverted back to “Do not show”.This started happening couple of days back but was working fine before that. How do i see my hidden files again?

  19. Chinmay

    Hallo,
    First of all I have my control panel in set to “classic View”

    Next click on the Standard Buttons tool bar and click “customize” add the Folders options icon
    from the Available tool bar buttons to Current tool bar buttons and then close. You will have the icon
    in the Standard Tool bar now.

    I have done all of this but the folder option which I made on the Standerd Bottons tool bar is not opening only………. I am using Xp Service pack 3 now please tell me how to solve this problem……

  20. DEEPAK GANGLE

    I’m using Windows XP. I’m not able to view the “hidden files and folders”.I tried the way posted above…its not working. Is it a virus. I’m able to see the folder options in the control panel but not able to view hidden folders. Please help me through.
    Thank You

  21. harshavardhandatt

    yes…DEEPAK it s a virus….try using a spyware or u need to reinstall windows….while re installing windows if u repair the windows it will be removed……..

  22. Nariyan

    I had hidden a folder & know when i try to view the folder the folder cannot be displayed.But the folder option is available ,pls help me out.

  23. john

    i m unable to see hidden files & folder , after selecting “show hidden files & folder ” option

  24. rahul agarwal

    There is no folder option activated on my windows xp professional Sp2 And I nedd it Urgent

  25. dileep

    I have followed the above steps but am unable to see my hidden files. When i click the folder options again, i see that the option has reverted back to “Do not show”.This started happening couple of days back but was working fine before that. How do i see my hidden files again?

  26. harshavardhandatt

    TO DILEEP:

    dileep u cant see.it s a virus….try using a spyware or u need to reinstall windows….while re installing windows if u repair the windows it will be removed……..

  27. Sumeet Ganguly

    Friends. I know what the proble is!!!!
    Its a hidden folder virus. all the other answers on this site are simply telling what procedure has to be followed to get the folders and files in visible mode or invisible mode but they themself are not aware about the hideen folder virus. My computer is still infected. Still searching for answer to get rid of it.

  28. harshavardhandatt

    no SUMEET….it s a virus…u hav no other go other than re installing windows…just by repairing

  29. Amar

    I use windows 98, the procedure to view hidden files is to go to any folder, click view then “folder options” then it should be there. But the “folder options” is no longer there, how can i view my hidden files? I hid an important file and i can’t retrive it. Anyone please help.

  30. Kamikaze

    Try using avg antivirus…

  31. The Geek

    ————————————- NOTE ————————————

    I am closing the comments on this article because of the large amount of support questions.

    You are welcome to leave any computer help questions on the Forum

    http://www.howtogeek.com/forum/

    ————————————- NOTE ————————————

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