How to Show Hidden Files in Windows 10 and Previous

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By default, all modern versions of Microsoft Windows hide some important system files and folders from you to prevent you from accidentally deleting them. However, there are many reasons why you might want to view these directories.

The hidden AppData/Roaming folder holds tons of app-settings files you might want to modify, for example. Or perhaps you just don't want your operating system treating you like a child and trying to protect you from yourself.  

Here's how to view hidden files and folders in Windows 10, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

1. Navigate to the control panel. In Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, you can get there by hitting Windows + X and selecting Control Panel. In Windows 7, just click the Start button or hit the Windows logo key.

open control panel

2. Select Large or Small icons from the View by menu if one of them is not already selected.

select large or small icons

3. Select File Explorer Options (sometimes called Folder options)

select file explorer options

4. Open the View tab.

Open the view tab

5. Select Show hidden files, folders and drives.

select show hidden files, folders and drives

6. Uncheck Hide protected operating system files.

hide protected files

7. Click Yes when prompted to confirm.

click Yes

8. Click OK.

Click Ok


Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
Add a comment
  • Brian Jemkin Says:

    Thanks for solving my problem. I was unable to remove my Kodi in order to reinstall a newer version due to hidden files that I was unaware of,which system advised were still active. Spent hours trying and reading all sorts of advice from loads of websites, to no avail. Your clear instructions had me fixed and up and running in a matter of minutes.

  • Alex H Says:


    What if this doesn't fix. I am trying to change the shortcuts in a programme (Chemdraw). I can go into the programme and the directory path has an extra folder in it which I know is hidden. However when I search for the folder (with all these hidden settings unchecked), I still can't see it.

  • Sammy24815 Says:

    thanks man it worked I got back my hidden shortcuts

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