Vista and Windows 7: Show or Unhide File Extensions

Most power users of Windows will want to see file extensions for all files. Here is how to see file extensions when browsing in explorer. This technique works for Vista and Windows 7.

File name extensions are the characters at the end of a file name that tells Windows what application should run and open the file. The file extensions are preceeded by a period. For example, in config.sys the .sys is the file extension.

As changing file extensions can confuse Windows when trying to open the file, by default Windows hides these file extensions by default. This is an attempt to protect users from accidentally changing the file extension when renaming the file.

However, power users will always need the ability to see file extensions in order to debug or to do advanced functions. Many tutorials here on tech-recipes, for example, require the visibility of file extensions to be enabled through this technique.

Enable the Display of File Extensions in Vista or Windows 7:

1. Open a folder or open explorer
2. Click the Layout button (to the left of the Views button) as shown in the picture below.

3. Click Folder Options
4. Click the View tab
5. Uncheck Hide extensions for known file types
6. Click OK

After this, the file extensions should be visible and no longer hidden.

 

About Jimmy Selix

Jimmy Selix is an early adopter that loves to be one of the first on the block to have the latest and greatest in technology and gadgets. Another love of his is being able to share his knowledge to others seeking it. Feel free to drop any comments or questions that you may have.
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70 Responses to “Vista and Windows 7: Show or Unhide File Extensions”

  1. October 04, 2008 at 6:59 pm, MF said:

    Thanks!
    I cannot understand that M$ cannot undserstand that this is a good thing. Stupid f***ing M$…
    // MVHMF

    Reply

  2. November 04, 2008 at 2:17 am, M. said:

    Thanks… for some odd reason I had thought it to be under, Customize this folder.

    Reply

  3. November 14, 2008 at 4:08 pm, Steph said:

    Thanks!

    Crazy Vista, before I read this I had not even NOTICED that tool bar in the explorer.

    Reply

  4. December 16, 2008 at 3:50 am, Utkarsh said:

    Great man..thanks for the support.
    Vista is new….so we will take time to know it.

    Reply

    • December 27, 2008 at 7:34 pm, UghMS said:

      Which is exactly the problem with MS. For some reason they think it’s ok to force their users to relearn how to do everything each time they release a new OS, all under the misguided notion that they have somehow made it easier to use (especially for new users). My favorite such thing is the dynamic start menu where things move around based on a complex algorithm of how often it’s been clicked on and how much MS thinks I should be using a program. That’s the only way I can explain why IEXPLORER keeps ending up near the top of the start list.

      Reply

  5. December 18, 2008 at 8:31 pm, jan frederiksen said:

    well, thank you for that. I’m new to Vista and I find it difficult to adjust & find the things I’m used to from XP.

    Reply

  6. December 19, 2008 at 1:58 am, anon said:

    Just another reason VIsta is terrible

    Reply

  7. December 19, 2008 at 10:10 pm, Fraser said:

    Thanks, my version of vista is a bit different so it took my a awhile to find the layout link :P

    Reply

  8. December 24, 2008 at 11:57 pm, Hawk said:

    Seems like Mickysoft just keeps finding new ways of making the computer more difficult to operate. I don’t understand why. :

    Reply

    • January 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm, Namme said:

      I like how people keep saying windows sucks, but at the same time they keep searching for help on the internet ;)

      Reply

  9. January 16, 2009 at 12:01 am, freetrial said:

    If you hit Alt key, it will show you all of the other options just like XP. =)

    Reply

    • January 29, 2009 at 7:15 am, kyle said:

      easier than my method lol. good job good info. i never knew that!

      Reply

    • March 07, 2009 at 10:12 pm, mike said:

      YEAH!

      THANKS, THE ALT KEY IS THE SH*T

      now i see the things that i know how to manipulate!

      Reply

    • May 18, 2009 at 1:17 pm, zzapper said:

      Cruel-cruel Mickeysoft, thanks a bunch for hiding this feature so well.

      Thanks for the Alt Key Tip

      phew
      zzapper

      Reply

  10. January 17, 2009 at 2:40 am, Anthony said:

    MYN IS IN CHINESE CUSE I CAN ONLY GET LEGAL CHINESE VISTA HERE AND I CAN’T READ ANY CRAP ON IT!! i ticked everything and unticked eveyrthing cuse i can’t read chinese but there was no difference

    Reply

  11. January 26, 2009 at 1:14 am, Matthew said:

    OMFG! thanks so much man, i so hate that. i never knew how to change that, i usualy had to which computers to change it.. gosh, thanks again. :D

    Reply

  12. January 29, 2009 at 7:14 am, kyle said:

    if like me you dont have that button, click organize then layout and check mark menu bar. go to tool>options, click the view tab and its right there.

    Reply

    • September 16, 2010 at 1:02 am, Jaydenismyworld said:

      Thank you!! I was wondering if I was going crazy!!

      Reply

  13. February 10, 2009 at 9:06 pm, Regs said:

    this is a little outdated (for me at least): almost the same, but instead of hitting layout, you have to click organise and find layout from there.

    thanks for pointing me the right way though

    Reply

  14. February 20, 2009 at 1:56 pm, dkl said:

    Thank you. It takes forever to find these annoying little details on your own. This one is my particular pet peeve with vista. Actually I have a “cat lady” type collection of peeves with vista, not just a single pet, but this one is first. Thanks for helping me get rid of it.

    Reply

  15. February 25, 2009 at 3:43 pm, neha said:

    thankx

    Reply

  16. March 04, 2009 at 1:11 am, desparatelyseekingchocolate said:

    THANK YOU!!! This has been driving me nuts!!!!

    Reply

  17. March 04, 2009 at 6:00 am, wolfwatcher said:

    Thank you so much! I had to change a file extension to run a program for school and could not figure this out (I’ve had vista for 3 days). You guys rock =)

    Reply

  18. March 23, 2009 at 6:13 am, Fish said:

    Thanks so much! You saved me from much heartache and headache. I needed to change a file ext. to be able to play my kids wrestling videos! Thanks again!

    Reply

  19. March 26, 2009 at 10:21 am, STEVEN said:

    There is no layout button to the left of the Views button.

    Reply

  20. March 30, 2009 at 2:32 am, tinky2jed said:

    I have Vista-64, but there is no layout button to the left of the other buttons. Now what?

    Reply

    • April 26, 2009 at 7:03 pm, trek said:

      There’s an organize button that is different than the layout button on mine, but in the same location (perhaps SP1 changed this?) but through liberal application of brain power you should be able to figure it out once you find the right button

      Reply

  21. April 06, 2009 at 6:26 am, wayneski said:

    yea microcrap, hiding extension to what end exactly??????

    geez, like we are going to be a good little servant to your every whim. nice try jack ass.

    Reply

  22. April 25, 2009 at 4:46 pm, Mark said:

    Thank you!

    Reply

  23. April 28, 2009 at 8:43 am, Angela said:

    Thank you very much!

    Reply

  24. May 08, 2009 at 12:43 am, shane said:

    My layout buttion doesnt have that option…. and my layout button can only be found under organize

    Reply

    • May 11, 2009 at 9:00 am, demis said:

      Fortunatelly, all CMD commands remain in VISTA. Thus, you can enter “control folders” in RUN menu (start menu) in order to open the folder options.

      Hope that helped :)

      Reply

  25. May 24, 2009 at 8:57 am, fedup said:

    This is Rubbish. I dont even have a Layout button. Next to Vies is Organise.

    Vista is Rubbish. I hate it with a passion.

    Reply

  26. May 28, 2009 at 11:10 pm, Anonymous said:

    Thanks, experienced computer user getting used to Vista. Dammed oddities :P

    Reply

  27. June 01, 2009 at 2:55 pm, Juni said:

    Thanks…

    stupid Vista!!!

    Reply

  28. June 03, 2009 at 3:33 pm, thesfid said:

    Thank you!

    Reply

  29. June 06, 2009 at 7:14 am, who@yahoo.com said:

    if u dont have the layout button just go to tools folder options is there

    Reply

  30. June 16, 2009 at 12:46 am, eljay said:

    Thank you!

    Reply

  31. June 19, 2009 at 5:11 pm, Scott Priestley said:

    Thanks!
    I recently made the leap to Vista and do a lot of file-level work and a quick search led me to your post!

    Reply

  32. June 30, 2009 at 8:48 pm, Rafael said:

    Nice and easy. If there any way to show all file extension in all folders instead of just doing the same operation one by one?

    Thank you!

    Reply

  33. July 10, 2009 at 9:41 pm, Steve said:

    Thanks.
    Dumb MS for hiding the file extension.

    Reply

  34. July 30, 2009 at 8:58 pm, Anonymous said:

    This doesn’t work.

    Reply

  35. July 30, 2009 at 8:59 pm, Anonymous said:

    This didn’t work for me.

    Reply

  36. September 30, 2009 at 4:29 pm, Me said:

    Thanks, It seems that My system decided to change this on instruction from MS, Its a reel pain in the Arse.

    Reply

  37. October 01, 2009 at 9:02 pm, Anonymous said:

    Vista is like that beautiful new Volvo, if I pop the hood I have no clue what to do. I am used to my Fiat, pop the hood and change the oil, easy peasy

    Reply

  38. October 07, 2009 at 9:19 pm, Anonymous said:

    thanks nice work dear

    Reply

  39. November 06, 2009 at 9:42 pm, Hephzibah said:

    Thank you. Very much.

    And, why is screen Display (wallpaper) under “E” for Ease of Access, in Control Panel?????!!!!?

    Never mind Office 2007, where I had to Google too find the Print command for the trial version……..

    Reply

  40. November 06, 2009 at 9:42 pm, Hephzibah said:

    Thank you. Very much.

    And, why is screen Display (wallpaper) under “E” for Ease of Access, in Control Panel?????!!!!?

    Never mind Office 2007, where I had to Google too find the Print command for the trial version……..

    Reply

  41. November 12, 2009 at 8:19 am, Anonymous said:

    Thanxxxss…………..

    Reply

  42. November 15, 2009 at 3:28 pm, girlgeek said:

    my version of Vista (SP2) doesn’t show a layout button!

    Reply

  43. November 21, 2009 at 3:57 pm, Dan said:

    my files are still showing them, and I HAVE made sure that it doesn’t show, pls help, they’re a mess,

    Reply

  44. January 25, 2010 at 1:13 am, Name said:

    Thank you! That would’ve taken me a while to find. Hopefully I won’t have this much trouble getting accustomed to Windows 7 when I upgrade :)

    Reply

  45. February 04, 2010 at 3:26 am, Toy said:

    Hi,
    My computer use Windows Vista, i can see the image file just view medium Icons in View menu, but now can’t see, I don’t know why? Pls tell me how to fix this problem.
    Thank!

    Reply

  46. February 04, 2010 at 3:35 am, Toy said:

    When I insert my Flash drive I see files and folder in my flash drive they are hid, and than I properties on those file and folder I see Hidden check box were check, I can not unchecked, I know that this is virus effect, pls tell me how to fix.
    Thx!

    Reply

  47. February 19, 2010 at 4:49 pm, Anonymous said:

    Thank you!

    Reply

  48. February 23, 2010 at 12:20 am, Anonymous said:

    I was shocked to find out vista didnt do this automatically and havent changed it until now but i noticed the icon didnt show up for me. Instead i had to press ALT to open advanced options and then press Tools and select Folder Options :)

    Reply

  49. March 10, 2010 at 10:40 am, Anonymous said:

    you are absolutely right, Vista and Windows 7 treat people like idiots and instead on improve skills they like to see them lost when they use a computer

    Reply

    • March 12, 2010 at 11:57 am, Anonymous said:

      I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments here.

      Reply

  50. May 07, 2010 at 10:06 pm, Anonymous said:

    usless article

    Reply

  51. June 20, 2010 at 4:37 pm, estuary said:

    I finally found this a year later!! – all of the stupid work-arounds I have wasted time on. This has been driving me crazy. Thank you.

    Reply

  52. July 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm, Anonymous said:

    thanks. I always have to use special software to open files with vista, vista tends to be a programmers nightmare, although I still prefer it to xp which I felt was too limiting, I’m waiting for a price drop before upgrading to windows 7.

    Reply

  53. July 18, 2010 at 3:54 am, Guyton455 said:

    Thanks.

    Reply

  54. July 20, 2010 at 8:23 pm, John Wirt said:

    This does NOT work. When I open Explorer there is no Layout button next to the Views button.

    VIsta is like this. A pure pile of ….. It changes in unexpected ways everywhere you go.

    What was the theory of design in Vista. Decide what to display in the same screen situation but whatever time of day it is?

    Junk.

    Reply

  55. August 20, 2010 at 3:21 pm, Snarky said:

    my vista was a little different but I figured it out. Thx!

    Reply

  56. October 11, 2010 at 5:43 pm, Emusker said:

    thanks so much!
    looked for like 10 min to try and find the option, never figured the default would be to ‘hide’ file extensions…
    honestly the more people know about extensions, the less they’ll break their computer M$.

    Reply

  57. October 25, 2010 at 4:23 am, Newearth said:

    thank you bosss

    Reply

  58. October 25, 2010 at 5:25 am, Mlwiltse said:

    I was just trying to set a file association (Vista 32bit) to a new embroidery program. At somepoint I typed in the name of the program (embird) and all of the file types in 2000 files changed from .jef (the extension my machine looks for) to embird. I can’t figure out how to fix it or even how to get back to the window. Help!

    Reply

  59. January 16, 2011 at 2:47 am, SayNOTOPC said:

    (Hide file extensions?) Really, M$ makes popups for everything attempting to make things easier (which doesn’t) then they name “Hide File extensions” which “show files extensions”….jesus christ – adios Billie gates…Screw windows dude, MAC here I come…I just can’t take it anymore..I don’t even want to TRY W7…forget it.

    Reply

  60. July 26, 2012 at 9:10 am, George said:

    Thanks! Really helpful!

    Reply

  61. February 02, 2013 at 9:16 am, Ross said:

    What if the “layout button” is not displayed? I’m looking for a “tools > options” menu (something fairly common – if not standard – on other apps) but not having any luck.
    TIA
    REP

    Reply

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