How-To Geek

Fix For When Windows Explorer in Vista Stops Showing File Names

If you’ve experienced a problem where Windows Explorer in Vista decides to suddenly stop showing the file names in certain folders, you are in luck, because it’s an easy fix.

The problem is encountered because Windows mistakenly thinks you’ve classified the folder as a Pictures folder and chosen the option to hide the filenames.

What, no file names?


To resolve this problem, right-click in the blank space of the folder and choose the Customize This Folder option from the menu.


Now select the Customize tab, and then choose Pictures and Videos as the folder type.


Either show the file menu, or just hold down the Alt key, and then you will be able to deselect the Hide File Names option, which will instantly show the folders.


Here we are, now we’ve got file names again…


Note that you should probably go back into the customize this folder menu and change the folder type back to All Items instead, but that’s up to you. You could also reverse this tip if you want to hide filenames in a folder.

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 08/22/07

Comments (12)

  1. Yariv

    Unfortunately, you can’t hide the file name on XP, it’s disabled on: View>Choose Details
    Anyone know how to hack it?

  2. Thomas

    Oh THANK YOU! I have been trying to find this option for the last hour. You kinda figure that if you are going to spend that much money on makeing “the perfect OS,” you would be able to maintain directory entegrity. But hay, what do I know? Right?

  3. klaas

    Nice, but how can one disable the way Vista randomly selects how to display the contents in a folder ?
    Everytime when I open a folder I see it displayed like ‘images and videos’ and the other time like ‘music’ and I select the Displat ‘details’ and ‘All items’ which I want to have as default.
    How can I get rid of the ‘date image taken’ and star rating ?

  4. mark schwarzman

    my windows explorer is acting up rely bad here is what is happing I think it is a virus because it knoced out my fire wall and filter so now when i turn on my computer it says windows explorer has shut down looking for alternitive and then it says windows is shuting down now it dose not shut down it sits there and it takes down evrey thing but the background and 5 seconds later it will have cycled through this agin so can you please help me I want to get on my computer agin

  5. daniel

    thanks so much. has been annoying me for ages.

  6. Khalil

    Hi …

    I am using Vista Ultimate, my file names of my C Drive are not showing. Don’t know how it went away, but none of the solutions given by the many forums have checked worked. Because the C Drive does not have a Customize folder option.

    I have already made a folder that does have that option the default for all folders, but that does not solve the problem.
    Please respond urgently.


  7. Andrew

    Yariv you can do this in xp just in a different way. right click some empty space, go to view, then hold down the shift key and click “thumbnails” and presto! no more filenames. This also works in vista.

  8. Suzanne Courtney

    I just want to say that this does not solve the problem for me. If you check the box to apply the same folder option to the subfolders, this does not fix it. You still have to go through every single folder and manually make the changes. And, it then has continued to reverse itself on occasion when I leave the folder and come back.

  9. Jack Yan

    Thank you! This worked for me, although I do not know how to show the file menu (in order to look for ‘Hide File Names’). Instead I right-clicked at random places till I saw a menu that had that option. Took a few minutes but eventually I stumbled across one.
    Had been looking for a fix for an hour—thank you for providing it! (I have also documented your fix on my blog, to point more people this way.)

  10. Ivan

    Hello! Everybody here it’s will help 100% tested: Hold Shift And Open Your “D:\” Then Go Back And Re-open “D:\”

  11. Helper

    That was confusing. A better way is to open the folder you want to display filenames while holding shift, then release and close folder. Reopen folder without shift and it should be back to normal. See this is how I bugged up my ROM-Disc drive folder. Holding shift usually turns off autorun for discs. I held it and opened dvd folder and closed it and found it messed up.

  12. Himil

    Thanks a lot

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