Did you know that to prevent important files from being deleted, Windows hides some vital system files from you? It does this when you search your files on your hard drive. If you like to always be able to see every single file on your computer, this can be annoying.
If you don’t want your computer to be in control of what you see and don’t see, there are options to make Windows show you every single file it won’t allow you to see. The good news is that the options are not difficult and are beginner-friendly. Those file hiding days are finally over.
Why Does Windows Hide Certain Files?
At first, the idea that Windows hides certain files automatically doesn’t make much sense. But when you find out why Windows does this, it makes it a little easier to put up with. The files that Windows hides are not files such as your pictures and folders with documents for work or school. The files it hides are files that have crucial data that you shouldn’t be messing around with. These are usually vital operating system-related files.
How to Reveal Hidden Windows 10 Files from the Control Panel
To show those hidden files, you’ll need to access the Control Panel. You can do this by typing control panel into the search tool. When the the Control Panel appears, click on View by the dropdown menu to the right of the box. Choose Small or Large icons.
Scroll down and look for File Explorer options and click on that. Click on the View tab (the middle tab) and look for the option that says “Show hidden files, folder and drives.” This item should be checked. A few options down you should see an option that says “Hide protected operating system files (recommended).” This item should also be checked.
You’ll see a warning that tells you that you have chosen to display protected operating system files. Don´t panic. Make sure you click on Yes. You should be taken back to the File Explorer Options box. Click OK. All the files that were previously hidden should now be visible.
Access the Hidden Files from the File Explorer
To reveal those hidden files by using File Explorer, click on the Start menu and select File Explorer. Expand the menu bar by clicking on the arrow pointing up in the upper-right corner.
Click on the View tab; it should be the fourth tab to the right. Select the Show/Hide dropdown menu and uncheck the box for the option that says Hidden Items.
Use the Registry to Make the Hidden Files Appear
The registry can also help you see those hidden files as well. To make the registry appear, press the Win + R keys. When the Run dialog box pops up, type
regedit and hit Enter.
Go to “HKEY_CURRENT_USER -> Software -> Microsoft -> Windows -> CurrentVersion -> Explorer -> Advanced.” Look for the option that allows you to set the value for Hidden and set that to “1” since that will make the hidden files appear. If you ever change your mind and want to hide the files again, just set the value to “2.”
You can also set the “ShowSuperHidden” to “1” if you want to see those protected Windows files. The number two option will hide the files again.
Even though it’s understandable why Windows hides those files for your own safety, you should be the one that decides if those files are protected or not. Since they are hidden by default, you can now recover them when you need them. What method do you use to retrieve hidden Windows files? Leave a comment and let us know.
This article was first published in September 2009 and was updated in April 2018.