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Here’s our guide on how to show hidden files in Windows 10 and older

Knowing how to uncover a hidden file may sound like a contradiction of sorts, but it’s also the kind of basic computing knowledge everyone should have in their tool belt. Similar to encrypting and password protecting a folder, hiding important documents and data from prying eyes is a simple and viable way to ensure your private data stays that way[1]: Private. Still, hiding your stuff is one thing, but it can be beyond inconvenient when troubleshooting Windows errors[2] or merely trying to delete the said folder to free up space on your hard drive.

And though you can quickly hide a file or folder from within each item’s respective property settings, viewing them requires administrative privileges and access to Window’s main control panel. Here’s our guide on how to show hidden files in Windows, whether you’re running the latest version[3] of Microsoft’s flagship operating system or an earlier incarnation. Also, check out our guide on how to password protect a folder[4].

Skip ahead to how to view hidden files in Windows 7 (and earlier).[5]

Windows 10

The short way: Using File Explorer — This is the easiest way to show hidden files in Windows 10. Simply click on the file-based icon on the taskbar to open the File Explorer window. Next, click on “View” in the Quick Access Toolbar, and then make sure “Hidden items” is checked in the “Show/hide” section of the drop-down menu.

That’s it.

For kicks, you can do the same for “File Name Extensions” if you want to see file types (EXE, JPG, INI, BAK, and so on). The long way: Using the Control Panel — If you like taking the scenic route to your destination, there is the old-fashioned method of using the Control Panel[6]. This access isn’t blatantly visible like File Explorer, so you need to type “Control Panel” into Cortana’s search field on the taskbar.

Microsoft’s assistant will then provide the shortcut needed to access this buried desktop feature.

Step 2: Navigating the Control Panel — With this window open, you see “Appearance and Personalization” listed in the right column, which is where you need to go. Click on that, and the Control Panel will roll out four options spanning from the taskbar to fonts. You want to click on the “Show hidden files and folders” link under the “File Explorer Options” settings.

Step 3: Unhide those hidden files — A little window will appear after clicking on the “File Explorer Options” link.

Here, you will see a bunch of settings to toggle on/off under “Advanced Settings > Files and Folders,” one of which is a section called “Hidden Files and Folders” with a mere two options: Show or don’t show hidden files.

Windows 8 / 8.1

Step 1: Navigate to the Folder settings Swipe in from the right-hand side of the screen, or move your cursor to the upper-right corner of the screen, and click or tap “Search.” Afterward, type “Control Panel” in the search field, select it the from the results and click or tap the green “Appearance and Personalization” option located on the right-hand side prior to selecting the blue “Show hidden files and folders” option below the Folder Options section.

Step 2: Enable viewing of hidden folders Click or tap the View tab at the top of the resulting window and check the bubble directly left of “Show hidden files, folders, and drives,” beneath the Hidden files and folders section. If desired, check the bubbles directly left of “Hide extensions for known file types” or “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” to view other hidden file and folder elements.

When finished, click or tap the “Apply” button in the bottom-right corner.

Windows 7 (and earlier)

Step 1: Navigate to the Folder settings — Click the Start button in the Windows taskbar and select “Control Panel” from the right-hand side of the resulting drop-down menu. Afterward, click the green “Appearance and Personalization” option located on the right-hand side, followed by the blue “Show hidden files and folders” option beneath the Folders Options section.

Step 2: Enable viewing of hidden folders Click the View tab at the top of the window and click the bubble directly to the left of “Show hidden files, folders and drives” within the Hidden files and folders section. If desired, check the bubbles directly to the left of “Hide extensions for known file types” or “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” to view other hidden file and folder elements.

When finished, click or tap the “Apply” button in the bottom-right corner.

For addition guides for navigating Windows 10, check out these cool how-tos:

References

  1. ^ private data stays that way (blogs.windows.com)
  2. ^ troubleshooting Windows errors (support.microsoft.com)
  3. ^ the latest version (www.microsoft.com)
  4. ^ how to password protect a folder (www.digitaltrends.com)
  5. ^ Skip ahead to how to view hidden files in Windows 7 (and earlier). (www.digitaltrends.com)
  6. ^ Control Panel (support.microsoft.com)

How to download Windows 10 Fall Creators Update right now

Ready to upgrade your PC to the latest version of Windows 10[1]? All right, let’s get to it. First, let me state: Before you install any big OS update, it’s a good idea to back up your system in case something goes awry during the installation.

You can simply upload important files to your preferred cloud service or an external drive. Windows’s built-in backup service can be found by going to Settings > Update & security > Backup. You should also make sure your computer meets the system requirements[2]:

  • 1GHz or faster processor
  • 1GB of RAM for a 32-bit machine; 2GB of RAM for a 64-bit machine
  • 16GB hard drive space for a 32-bit machine; 20GB hard drive space for a 64-bit machine
  • DirectX 9 or later graphics card with WDDM 1.0 driver

Check Windows Update

Microsoft[3] will start rolling out Windows 10 Fall Creators Update on Oct.

17 but will do so gradually, so you may not get the update right away. (To be fair, rolling out an update to hundreds of millions of computers takes time and planning.) To check if it’s available for your PC, head to Settings > Update & security > Windows Update and click the Check for updates button. Your PC will scan for the update and, if it’s available, it will begin downloading it.

After it finishes downloading the update, click Restart Now to restart your PC and complete the installation process.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

If you go to Windows Update only to be told your device is up to date, then you’ll either need to wait patiently for the update to hit you or go the manual route.

…Or skip the line and install manually

If you want to get Fall Creators Update before fall turns to winter, then you can manually update Windows 10 instead of waiting for the update to arrive. Go to this Microsoft Software Download page[4] and download the ISO files for Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Run the file to open the Windows 10 Update Assistant, and follow the instructions to complete the installation process.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Update Oct.

17, 10:30 a.m.: The ISO files for Fall Creators Update have yet to make their appearance on Microsoft’s Software Download page. We will update this post when the files become available. Update Oct.

17, 2:00 p.m.: You are good to go.

Microsoft’s Software Download page has been updated to include Fall Creators Update.

Read more: The 10 best new features of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update[5]

References

  1. ^ Windows 10 (www.cnet.com)
  2. ^ system requirements (support.microsoft.com)
  3. ^ Microsoft (www.cnet.com)
  4. ^ Microsoft Software Download page (www.microsoft.com)
  5. ^ 10 best new features of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (www.cnet.com)

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