How-To Geek

Show Hidden Files and Folders in Windows 7, 8.x, 10, or Vista

Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, and Vista hide important files and folders from view to keep users from deleting or otherwise modifying files they shouldn’t, but a simple checkbox can change that behavior.

The dialog has remained the same forever, but how to get to the dialog has changed a little in each version.

On Windows 8.x or 10

You can use the Ribbon’s View tab to get to the Options button.

Click the View tab, and then you should select “Show hidden files and folders” in the list. If you are trying to get into the Windows directories, you might want to also remove the checkbox from “Hide protected operating system files” as well.

On Windows 7 or Vista

To show hidden files, just click on the Organize button in any folder, and then select “Folder and Search Options” from the menu.

Showing Hidden Files and Folders

Click the View tab, and then you should select “Show hidden files and folders” in the list. If you are trying to get into the Windows directories, you might want to also remove the checkbox from “Hide protected operating system files” as well.

Once you are done, click OK.

Note: If you are missing this option entirely, you should follow this guide to restore the option.

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 04/26/15

Comments (105)

  1. Rhonda Bouse

    I don’t know if you can help me, but I’m running out of hope, so here goes! I cannot delete certain files and folders from my “Vista Home Basic” that came installed on my new pc. I send them to the recycle bin and empty it, only to go back and find the icons still in the same place, except that now, I can’t send them anywhere. I have tried installing (unsuccessfully) an unblocker, only to find out that there is an “error debug privleges”, so I intalled (again unsuccessfully) “Windows Symbols package” that would not run properly because there in an “error corruption file”. I tried to figure out how to find out where this corrupted file is, but I’m exhausted and would be forever grateful for any help anyone can offer me here. I am ready to throw my new computer out the window and go back to the Compaq I’ve had since 99′!

  2. Tricia

    How do I find and delete index.dat?

  3. Adam Gr

    Hi !,
    I am using Vista Ultimate. Just got rid of virus from my laptop.
    I am getting “FOLDER AND SEARCH OPTIONS” greyed out and disabled in the organiize tab.
    Even the control panel is showing missing link to the the above option.
    I am unable to see and delete certain hidden files. Kindly help.

  4. jim

    Aaagh! I have oodles of hidden files which I still can’t see, even after following this advice. Vista just keeps them hidden. If I create a file (say, a csv, which is one of the filetypes) and try to save it to a folder, I can see the stuff previously saved – but it becomes invisible again when I try to find it.

    This is driving me crazy. I’m on Vista home premium

  5. Mary Threet

    I backed up my computer but instead of going to Drive “D” it went int to my hard drive “C”. I am trying to open the files that woild let me remove them from the hard drive but it hasn’t happened yet.
    Can you help me.

  6. kas

    argggh… all those options are hidden. trying to get rid of rontok bro.

  7. Mohd. Rahul

    Thanx sir this information is really helpful for me.

    Thanx again

  8. chrysley abellana

    in the oganize tab, my folder and search options is grey, or inactive or it cannot be clicked.. i tried opening a lot of folders but none still.. i cant open my hidden folders!

  9. Frank Tank

    tx a mill, help was just 2 the point : )

  10. loc

    I got the problem like Jim. Could you guys please help me. Thank alot!

  11. anubhav

    i can’t view hidden folders on my computer.i followed the general procedure which u told i knew it already
    but even i m not able.please guide me.

  12. jd2066
  13. Danielle

    I hid some folders and was able to show my hidden folders. But now the folders look sort of shadowed and don’t appear in my ZoomBrowser (software that came with my digital camera) for editing purposes. Is there any way I can completley restore these folders so it was like they were never hidden?

  14. Shari

    Thank you so much, this was very helpful! We need more people like you in the world, willing to share their knowledge. :)

  15. Ken

    I have the same problem as JIm and loc–Can’t see subfolders that I created. The application (NetObjects Fusion) sees them and I can open them but Windows Vista Premium will not show them in the folder. I have the option “show hidden files and folders” checked.

  16. Ken

    Same issue as JIm and loc–Can’t see subfolders that I created. The application (NetObjects Fusion) sees them and I can open them but Windows Vista Premium will not show them in the folder. I have the option “show hidden files and folders” checked.

  17. sean

    i was defragmenting when my laptop turned off, when i turned it back on is said that my system was damaged due to a bad start or somting like that, i restored mt laptop now all my movies photos and music and files have gone the lap top is as if i got it new. the hard drive is full but not sure how to get it. i really need my files….

  18. Peter

    Thank you very much..truly a great help!!!

  19. sandeep

    i am using vista ultimate

    in my system corel draw x3 is not working what should i do…?

  20. Vikram Jain


  21. Sam

    Thank you so much this was really helpful

  22. Genius

    try virtualstore folder (%APPDATA%/Local). seems to store all those files created by non-admin programs

  23. Gary

    hi everybody, just a quick question…. i got one my personal video which i made in night… is there i can put light in that video… is there any software or somebody can help me out with that… thanks…

  24. rakesh

    gud it worked

  25. Divya

    I am such a fool. I had a folder named messages in my d drive. It contained all messages from my mobile phone, few recordings, pictures etc. I cut and pasted in the WINDOWS folder of c drive. Till then it was fine. Then made it hidden. The copmuter then flashed a dialog box which required permission to continue the task. After this, I couldnt find d folder anywhere. Help me out. I need d folder anyhow. Though I tried UNDO as well. But nothing happened.

  26. ajay

    how to delete hidden pbk in vista

  27. Eric Motz

    I had a virus and did a reinstall of Vista Home Premium but after I was finished my C drive was full and on my D drive I only have have the memeory that I should have how can I fix this.

  28. arun joshi

    superb thankx man it worked for me

  29. dorayakii

    This doesn’t work for me… How do you stop it from going back to “do not show hidden files and folders?

    I’ve had Vista for 2 years now and I still can’t get used to its silly little foibles. It’s annoyed me for the last time… I’m going back to XP or getting a Mac.

  30. deepak patel

    in my pc the FOLDER AND SEARCH OPTION was not activated, and i want to show my hidden files.

  31. George R. Middaugh

    A “hidden Pbk” folder keeps showing up on my desktop. Inside the folder is “Rasphone”. How do I get rid of it?

  32. Mohammad Fawzy

    I am getting “FOLDER AND SEARCH OPTIONS” greyed out and i cannot show my hidden files . would you please help me.

  33. Ksteve

    Like George R. Middaugh, I also have this “_hidden.Pbk” folder appearing as the first folder in several parent folders in my doc’s. In about 1/2 the cases, there’s a mysterious file called “rasphone.pbk” which contains nothing. This smells like a virus/trojan. I’ve tried AVG, Malwarebytes, AVAST, and SpyBot S&D to identify and remove it to no avail. Googled the name of the file and this forum appears. Can anybody help me? George: Did you find an answer? Thanking you all in advance for any meaningful response even if it’s ridicule. I may be just too old for this nonsense.

  34. blj

    Thank you very much. This site was very helpful. It saved me a lot of frustrations about how to find hidden files. Initially I did check “show hidden files and folders” option yet the windows didn’t show me some excel files that have nothing to do with operating system files unless I unchecked “Hide protected operating system files” box??!!

    Absolutely stupid from Windows. I was frustrated for hours trying to find my files that I just saved in a folder that doesn’t show up when I looked for it??! Well, those files are NOT PROTECTED OPERATING SYSTEM FILES!! Why windows classified them as “operating”, nobody knows.

    So much from windows!

    Thanks again.

  35. ross

    when looking in my music folders i used to be able to see all the tracks on the right but there was a side bar on the left that showed all the folders and sub folders in my hard drive so i coule just drag them over.
    the side bar has dissapeared now any ideas how to get it back peeps ??


  36. george akala

    pls,i have a system which has window vista basic as the operating system but i now downloaded window 7 to it and ever since the system has being giving me problem to the point that i can now even stay on for five minute,pls some one help cos i need to go back to window vista i have the product key at the back of the system without the cd and i dont want to format the system cos of my shld come within a day pls.

  37. Isaac Blessing

    i have an external hard disk and it was attack by virus. i use show hidden files and folders all folders came out except one of the folder. i thought i had mistakenly deleted it but check all the folders size and found out the file is still there but not showing.

    pls i need ur help guys

  38. Hannes


    I followed the instructions as far as I could. Which is not very far… Reason being; I click the Organize button as per step 1, but when I try to click the folder and search options button – Nothing!! The button is all in grey lettering as if it’s not a valid option? I can click it as many times as I want. Nothing happens? I’ve got administrator privileges (or so I thought), but it’s like windows 7 decided to child-lock my user profile. Please help, I’m desperate!

  39. honey

    some virus my all drive have no display folder & file…..
    but commandprompt to so all file & folder…
    give yr solution ,,my folder have not hidden .but all folder no so……….

    plz …….give a solution in my E-mail ID.

  40. anand

    Thanks man …very helpful

  41. steve

    hi there, i’m running windows vista on my laptop and windows 7 on my pc. I’m trying to access the files off my laptop with my pc but i’ve tried everything nothing seems to work. I’ve set up file sharing, all open settings, even removed firewall to try and access. i can access my windows 7 computer from the vista, but not the other way around.

    also tried creating an ad-hoc network and that didn’t work out at all.

  42. thank u buddy

    thank u its working

  43. Anon


    There is some kind of virus that I have not yet managed to identify that infects external media and makes windows believe they are System Files. They can still be seen in Linux though. Just uncheck the “Hide system files” box and you will be able to see your files but they will be shadowed out. I am working on the solution now.


  44. jayadeep

    It didn’t work for me

  45. Wiki-wiki

    Hooraay! I can now see my files in my external hard drive(1TB) this link so cool! Thanks for the shots! :DD

    U ROCK!!

  46. Rachel

    Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. addd

    hi..i am using 2 operating systems…same microsoft xp..i can’t see my files in the other o.s…
    i cannot boot my second o.s because it may be defective…
    please help me retrive my important files…tnx a lot

  48. trishul

    very nice

  49. umer


  50. dennis cheney

    sir, if it works you make it sound easy thank you i think i will inch myself. sir, i have one more question how do you stop game popup warnings/

  51. grindael

    Thank you for this info. My external drive just hid all my folders for some reason and I went crazy trying to figure out how to undo this. Don’t know how it happened, but I saw the files were there, just could not see the folders. eerie. I actually went to organize, but missed the option you point out above… Thanks so much, I wasted 3 hours on this, and your info was invaluable to me. God bless you all.

  52. Vikas Bharati

    Thanks….really nice post

  53. Sarah

    Thank you SO much for this. I was about to start crying over not being able to retrieve my pictures.

  54. Ian

    Thank you very much, great tutorial easy :0)

  55. aatif

    unfortunately i forgot where i saved my hidden files and now i damn need them badly as they contain my official and personnel files.
    kindly help me out of this problem .i am using windows-7
    thank u

  56. ~Sk8tr Boi~

    dude i want to know how to make a hidden file become a non hidden file

  57. ~Sk8tr Boi~

    I mean i see it but i want it to be a regular file

  58. nini

    hey tanks~
    after formatting my laptop,i thought all my valuable data is loss
    but my data disk(D:) was just like before.and when i scan with antivirus the files was in there.its a puzzle,looking all those file coz i dont know that it was hidden…again tanks..(^^,)

  59. Yad


    I have the same problem as Danielle where I hid some folders and able to show my hidden folders however the folders look sort of shadowed. How I can completley restore these folders so it was like they were never hidden?

    TQ So Much.

  60. vilius

    hi, i’m using windows vista and i hide my fotos and now i have tried everything but i can’t see my foto anyway. i see that there is more than 200 files in folder option but i can’t see my foto…..please help my…

  61. ahed nashef

    thankkkkkkkk youuuuuuuuu,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  62. GlitchHero9724


    I am trying to get in my Documents & Settings folder, but it doesn’t allow me to. I tried some things, still doesn’t work!

    Could you please help me get in?
    I’m on Vista.


  63. anees


    i’m running win 7 prof (x86) and the option “Show hidden files and folders” is not showing at all. how to get it back?


  64. nick

    Hi, after checking the box as mentioned, i’m still unable to see the folder which i’ve hidden previously but the memory is still taken up by the hidden files. please advice.

  65. k2ee

    Thank you for this. I use XP but my kid’s computer is Vista and I’m really lost when I have to use it. This was very helpful.

  66. anish

    this is so healpfuf.thanks

  67. cuplis

    oalah…. jan asem og.. ngono to carane…. :D thanks gan…

  68. tams

    you’re the freaking best for this! THANK YOU

  69. pete

    same problem as jim at top of page however i am on vista home basic

    Aaagh! I have oodles of hidden files which I still can’t see, even after following this advice. Vista just keeps them hidden. If I create a file (say, a csv, which is one of the filetypes) and try to save it to a folder, I can see the stuff previously saved – but it becomes invisible again when I try to find it.

  70. Cesar


    It was painful, but after read your solution it was so easy,

    THANK YOU !!!!!

  71. Mr. Nem Kumar

    My hidden folder is not show. I am trying to show this folder by tools menu options but this options is not so my menu baar

  72. Robin

    Dear Friends, I had a sociopath delete my entire computer operating system. All of my writing has gone.
    I’ve followed the instructions in the diagram dialogue boxes above but what is the next step to finding the files?
    Please help me, this is a serious issue. I’ve lost eight years of my writing plus five writing projects that were well under way.
    I’d be grateful.

    Best regards…..Robin

  73. Boris

    I had a virus on the computer that changed a lot of my files into “hidden”. One way to reverse it is to do what is adviced in this article. However I have some 3000 files to restore in dozen of different folders. Is there a utility that can change file properties?

  74. ajzaklija

    Can it be “show/hide hidden files” like a shortcut on right mouse button?
    I had this on Win XP, but not on Win7…

  75. Pam


  76. amit

    lots of thanks

  77. danielle

    omggg, thanks so much. you do not know how grateful i am that i found this. had a fat virus on my computer and i thought it deleted all my files and documents. i was about to call it quits. but you, sir, have surely helped.

  78. Melissa

    I was about to throw my computer against a wall before I read this.

  79. Harish Singh

    I m using Window 7 and my problem is that I can’t see my Data of a particular drive which is not hidden but I can search it by the folder name, I tried it to recover through Window recovery but all in vain, if anybody can help me please do as soon as possible.

    thanking you in advance

    Harish Singh

  80. Lotte

    Thanks so much! You saved my day.

  81. isabel

    I’m not trying to gain access to files that windows hides automatically, I hid a folder a while ago and I can’t access it. I don’t have these options that you posted up there. I use windows 7 home premium…

  82. Ravenmoore

    hellooo im on win 7 and my avast got rid of a virus and i followed your helped and work but the folder ,under the name the virus was hidden, cant be made visible the hidden check is blocked

  83. shakki

    lot of thanks to how to geek.bcoz i had searched & spend lot of time for this.thanks for giving the idea.once again lot of thanks…………………………………

  84. The King

    THANKS i forgot how to

  85. Sonu

    I am using win xp and have a 320 gb external hard drive.. I formatted my system and reintalled the windows. However after that I cannot see any files in my external hard drive. when I chk the drive size it says 70 gb used. However they are nowwhere to be seen, (My prev data was about 70 gb).

    Show hidden file folders even dont seem to work. Can some one help me? How to I make the files visible again?

  86. dixit

    thanks it worked

  87. Tyler

    same prob as jim and loc

  88. Janiz

    Great help! thanks!

  89. lukhoi

    thanks for help …..

  90. Ace

    Really helped out man! Thanks bro

  91. Ning

    Thank you very much for this help. If I did not resolution from your website I will lost everything of my work.

  92. Sakshi

    Heyyy thank you so so much…..stupid files aint operating…microsoft is mad…..was superrrrrrrr sad n depressed the whole day today coz my hard disk crashed………have managed to recover all my data…..thankyou again :)

  93. SNA

    Thank you, but i want to know about how to show file and folder that has hide in USB. And especially i do again and again follow step but it can’t show. So i want to know detail about it .

  94. Rob

    Thanks very much for the tips. We found our hidden files, finally, thanks to your tips.

  95. Sam

    Thank you. This is the first post I’ve seen that isn’t complex or requires a lot of manipulation to my PC when I have almost no knowledge of these things. So hard to find simple fix it solutions these days.

  96. Joy

    many thankssssssssssssss

  97. kavitha

    i want to delect temparary folder can you please help me

  98. srinivas

    thnq man its very useful …

  99. ???????????????????

    please HELP ME I CAN’T OPEN ‘ Totem Tribe\data\texture\game\item\ folder ‘ and where do I open it


  100. imran khan

    I m using Window 7 and my problem is that I can’t see my some Data in each drive which is not hidden but I searched it by the folder options, I tried it to recover through Window recovery but no result, if anybody can help me please do as soon as possible.

  101. T Rose

    Thanks so much! This really helped me! I am not used to Vista and a virus hid my files. I needed to unhide them.

  102. Dave Burr

    I’ve recently had a virus on windows XP and some of the files are now greyed out/hidden I can view them, but how can i turn the folders solid again/unhide them.

  103. ria

    thank you so much was lost for a moment

  104. ELIES


  105. aaronofruston


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