How to View Hidden and System Files and Folders in Vista

Posted July 31, 2006 by Hack_Vista in Microsoft Vista

In Vista, you can find the files and folders on your system that are hidden. This tutorial explains the steps needed to accomplish this.

The method that you use to see your hidden files and system files in Vista is not much different from XP. Here are the step-by-step directions. Remember that system files are hidden for a reason. Do not try to delete files if you do not know what they are.

1. Click the round blue Start icon in the left corner.
2. Click Control Panel.
3. Click Folder Options.
4. Click the View tab.
5. Click Show hidden files and folders.
6. If you want to see system files as well, unclick Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).
7. Click OK.

The Conversation

Follow the reactions below and share your own thoughts.

  • anonymous

    My friend thought it was funny to hide a 3gb folder on my memory stick (taking up all the memory). Needed this to find and delete it.

    Thank you for your help.

    • Will

      Same here, I had a 2 hidden folders on my SD Card which I only noticed when I put it into my PS3. (Which I Just Deleted From My SD Card)

  • Jonathong

    Thanks dude, godsend πŸ˜›

    (not used to silly vista)

  • Celine

    Alrighty, thanks so much!

  • Mr F Shields

    how do you delete the notes on the recent items on widow svista

  • Lindsey

    Help! I’m trying to hide my sensitive files because I have an employee coming in this weekend. I hid three of the directories in my main folder, but now I can’t even figure out how to view them myself! How do I un-hide them? I’m in the root directory (called “Lindsey,”), it’s one tier up from My Documents. When I click on “customize this folder” i get an error message saying properties for this item (Desktop?) are not available!!

  • james

    My question was how to see the pictures in an album formatt and not how to find files.

  • robz

    Chrs Thank you xxxx

  • lovelyslickyvixen

    the folder option isnt there! how??

    • sud

      type folder options in search in control panel

      • beast300

        dude, its totally gone! i did this exact thing and it didnt show. the recent virus mustve done it. how do i get it back?

      • xyz

        ahh thanx a million
        i couldnt find the folder options until now !! πŸ™‚

    • DeAdnre

      Or on the left side click “Classic View” and then look for “Folder Option” Once again.

  • sud

    very gud info


  • VistaMan

    good stuff buddy.. thanks alot, i had totally forgotten how to findem’

  • Cam

    Awesome! Thanks a lot man! I accidentally hid a bunch of folders on my desktop and did not know how to view them again!

    This really helped!

  • Chris

    This was useful to me, but for the opposite reason. I was trying to turn off the viewing of hidden files. People who are reading this, this article is very informative, but just don’t bother with hidden files. They’re annoying, trust me, and there’s a reason they’re hidden. Tampering with them at all can crash your entire system, I know from experience.

  • hh


    • scottishguy

      might be worth mentioning… IF you go into control panel but you cannot see the icon “folder options”.. then you should click on “classic view” text on the left… this will reveal the folder options icon amongst others..

      • Ksbhjabdvhyuduad

        if you just search ‘folder options’ and click the word, then you’ll see a new window open. then follow the instructions. simple as.

  • J

    Control panel > Appearance and Personalization

  • Drew

    Thanks for this I hid some folders by mistake! Many thanks pal

  • dave


    Hi! I have several folders hidden in my computer, i followed the steps bellow, but just can’t unclick “do not show hidden files and folders”, it just doesn’t let me do that. I entered the folder options in mode “run as administrator”, but still doesn’t work. Any idea? Thanks.


    • Rico

      I have the same problem as David’s. I have clicked the “show hidden files and folders” and then click Apply button but doesn’t take any effect. When I open the Folder Options box again, the radio button still points to “Do not show hidden files and folders”. Even when I unchecked the “Hide extensions for known file types” and “Hide protected operating system files”, it did not work. Need help here…

  • Glenn

    Thankyou, i hid a folder and could not find it when i needed it, helped a lot thanks

  • kitty

    my computer doesnt allow me to select show, it only has DO NOT show hidden files, and it wont let me un click it! i have 3 gig of photos hidden (my sister sneaks through my stuff) how can i access it???

  • Xem8wt

    U own. Thanks for your help

  • Rohan

    I still have files that arnt showing up?

  • Igor

    But i dont have Folder Options in my Control Panel!!!!
    grrrrrr this post suck!

    • Shakya

      try classic view…..

  • Shakya

    wonderfully helpful, thankyou

  • jayson byrd

    sweet. tysm

  • Mohammed

    I do the three Methods that you have shown me including the download of smart virus remover and it DIDN’T WORK this problem driving me criusy PLEASE tell me what to do

  • aaron

    if your smart enough you could just write folder options come on common sense

  • glen

    Thanks for that post. It was very handy. TY

  • troy

    THANKS BUDDY ……………was driving me nuts

  • surj


  • franc

    hey’ thank u so much…

  • HoTTiE 4 YoU

    thanks so much i made one of my albums on my computer hidden and i found it but the picture i was looking for wasnt on it so thank goodness i fouind this site ur a life saver i was like ditto i cant find it… lol

  • Anonymous

    How do you View Hidden and System Files and Folders in Windows 7 Ultimate (evaluation copy) ?

    I am in need of help on this, apparently this needs to be done because my email program incredimail is sending blank e mails.

  • Anonymous

    plz help me if any one know that how to hide system file once it unhide,window file continiously showing on my desktop,once i have click unhide the file n folder to see my hidden files but forgot to click on ‘hide protected system file option’,and then i found system files are visible on desktop,even clicking on hide protected system file option afterward.

  • Anonymous

    hello just found this quick step by step its almost perfect πŸ™‚ please add in the step that folder options is in the apperance tab thanks πŸ™‚

  • Anonymous

    there is no folder option in my vista’s control panel

  • Anonymous

    Cheers. I know without having to think how to do this using XP, but, as always with anything that’s a newer version, they have to change things and you have to relearn how to do some of the simplest things..! Quite frustrating when you just want to get on with things. But, once I knew where to look, it was easy.

  • Anonymous

    i ve done what u said..but the hidden files are not showing still. when i check the folder options it has automatically gone back to do not show hidden files agin itself…hmmm

  • Anonymous

    hello sir, i did the steps suggested by you, but it doesnt work, acually each & every time when i open view tab it ever shows “dont show hidden files & folders” , then i changed it to ” show hidden files & folders” & then “apply” & “ok.” but it doesnt work at all, again when i open view tab it shows “dont show hidden files & folders” , though i changed all the settings.

    • Chirag


  • Anonymous

    My hidden files and folders shown them self without me doing this and no one has been on my laptop to do it :S, does any one no why?

  • anonymous

    hey i am unable to find my hidden files
    i tried the tip

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t work. But thanks.

  • Anonymous

    It didn’t work for me unfortuntely. It keeps going back to “do not show hidden files and folders”… Why doesn’t it work like in XP? it was so easy to just click that button on and off…

  • Anonymous

    still i can’t open the hidden file

  • Anonymous

    cannot search for “folder options” – not found
    no folder options in my control panel, on Either view! Grrrrr doing my head in!

  • Jro

    Thankyou. I kept on seeing all these files that I no longer needed when my virus scanner was running, but I couldn’t find them. Now I can finally delete them. Get my computer running a bit better.

  • Anonymous

    tHanks very mUch..
    i was so worriEd cOz i caN’t view thE hiddEn files..
    mY dad wAnts to see tHe hard copies..
    iF i tOld him tHat i cAn’t sEe the fiLes..
    hE’ll pRobably kill mE..
    iT really hElpeD me a lot..
    thAnk you..:)

  • Anonymous

    thanks alot frnd

  • Khans

    thanks so much for your info. keep posting.
    thanks again

  • Vikrant33


  • Pryce1

    I have two laptops on Vista. One I can change the hidden folders and files from show to hide.

    The other I can’t. The ‘show hidden files ‘ option is greyed out.

    I need to see the hidden files on the second macine. Any ideas please?



  • Wws Admin

    Doesn’t work. I still cannot find Temporary Internet Folders which are hidden.

  • Frosenx

    sorry but i dont have anything called folder option in my controlpanel!is there anyway else to find it thanks.

    • Vanessia_1999

      1. Click the round blue Start thing in the left corner bottom of your the very left that look like a flag (this is your start button)
      2. Click Control Panel
      3. Click Folder Options
      4. Click the View tab
      5. Click Show hidden files and folders

  • Rameakbal


  • Anon8674


  • Florent Gill

    It was amazing and I am quite pleased with the outcome.

    Thanks a lot

    F Gill

  • Habnouf

    i dont see folder option!!! and in windows explorer i dont see tools!!

  • Vinit shah

    dear,i can’t get proper language in folder in view option.plz help me…..

  • Sy Holloway

    can the “hide/view hidden files and folders” function be put in to a batch file?

  • mani

    how c hidden file with another function .

  • Crisha

    Dude, THANKS. A stupid as this sound, I’ve been trying to get files from my SD memory card from my cam for ahem, far too long. I could finally get me some space and take more pictures, and also upload pictures in my computer WHICH I’VE TRYING SO FREAKIN HARD. Thank you! πŸ™‚

  • amstelleer

    This helped so much I got all my documents, programs, and everything back hoorah!

  • rilyn

    thanks. it helps me :))

  • Dante

    Thank you very much for your useful information but I got a different problem.
    I tried to Hide my hidden files and folders but they keep Showing them.
    I selected: Don’t show hidden files, folders or drives and also i selected Hide protected operating system files
    It keeps change this option to SHOW Hidden files, folders and drives.

    Please help .. how can I Hide those folders?

    Thank you soo much

  • Hassan

    Thank you Dude.
    Very helpful lines.

  • cj

    hi, i badly need your help on this. i already knew that procedure. and my files didn’t show up. it’s been a week since it failed to show. and the button keeps on “don’t show …” even i already clicked “show…” . what am i suppose to do? πŸ™ thanks a lot.

  • I have vista

    Thanks! (I’m not wanting to delete system folders, only delete things i have hidden (to protect password containing files))

  • vani

    when i want to open my memory card of my cam in my pcim unable to see the contents of the card.when i right clicK on the drive i can see the used space and free space,how to explore my card ?can anyone help me?

  • johnathan galvan

    I need to find him

  • Johnathan Galvan

    I need to find my information on my history. I lost everything my date of birth is 12-25-79 im from Aransas pass Texas.