How to View Hidden and System Files and Folders in 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.

79 Responses to “How to View Hidden and System Files and Folders in Vista”

  1. October 08, 2008 at 5:22 pm, anonymous said:

    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.

    Reply

    • December 04, 2008 at 1:18 am, Will said:

      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)

      Reply

  2. October 09, 2008 at 1:09 am, Jonathong said:

    Thanks dude, godsend :P

    (not used to silly vista)

    Reply

  3. October 15, 2008 at 9:26 pm, Celine said:

    Alrighty, thanks so much!

    Reply

  4. October 16, 2008 at 4:29 pm, Mr F Shields said:

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

    Reply

  5. October 16, 2008 at 10:44 pm, Lindsey said:

    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!!

    Reply

  6. October 18, 2008 at 11:18 pm, james said:

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

    Reply

  7. November 06, 2008 at 6:45 pm, robz said:

    Chrs Thank you xxxx

    Reply

  8. November 08, 2008 at 11:24 pm, lovelyslickyvixen said:

    the folder option isnt there! how??

    Reply

    • November 20, 2008 at 11:40 am, sud said:

      type folder options in search in control panel

      Reply

      • April 22, 2010 at 1:14 am, beast300 said:

        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?

        Reply

      • June 20, 2010 at 9:37 am, xyz said:

        ahh thanx a million
        i couldnt find the folder options until now !! :)

        Reply

    • November 28, 2008 at 5:04 am, DeAdnre said:

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

      Reply

  9. November 20, 2008 at 9:33 am, sud said:

    very gud info

    thanks…..

    Reply

  10. November 25, 2008 at 10:16 pm, VistaMan said:

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

    Reply

  11. November 30, 2008 at 1:37 am, Cam said:

    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!

    Reply

  12. December 07, 2008 at 12:12 am, Chris said:

    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.

    Reply

  13. December 20, 2008 at 3:33 am, hh said:

    ya

    Reply

    • December 20, 2008 at 3:36 am, scottishguy said:

      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..

      Reply

      • July 06, 2010 at 3:01 pm, Ksbhjabdvhyuduad said:

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

        Reply

  14. January 01, 2009 at 5:38 pm, J said:

    Control panel > Appearance and Personalization

    Reply

  15. January 22, 2009 at 1:09 am, Drew said:

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

    Reply

  16. January 31, 2009 at 8:24 pm, dave said:

    Help!

    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.

    david

    Reply

    • February 16, 2009 at 10:32 am, Rico said:

      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…

      Reply

  17. February 27, 2009 at 11:44 am, Glenn said:

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

    Reply

  18. March 08, 2009 at 9:16 am, kitty said:

    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???

    Reply

  19. March 16, 2009 at 8:03 am, Xem8wt said:

    U own. Thanks for your help

    Reply

  20. April 10, 2009 at 8:24 am, Rohan said:

    I still have files that arnt showing up?

    Reply

  21. April 12, 2009 at 11:59 pm, Igor said:

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

    Reply

    • April 14, 2009 at 9:12 pm, Shakya said:

      try classic view…..

      Reply

  22. April 14, 2009 at 9:11 pm, Shakya said:

    wonderfully helpful, thankyou

    Reply

  23. May 10, 2009 at 11:14 am, jayson byrd said:

    sweet. tysm

    Reply

  24. May 13, 2009 at 6:30 pm, Mohammed said:

    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

    Reply

  25. May 26, 2009 at 3:36 am, aaron said:

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

    Reply

  26. June 03, 2009 at 11:03 am, glen said:

    Thanks for that post. It was very handy. TY

    Reply

  27. June 06, 2009 at 11:39 am, troy said:

    THANKS BUDDY ……………was driving me nuts

    Reply

  28. June 09, 2009 at 9:56 pm, surj said:

    thanks

    Reply

  29. June 15, 2009 at 3:18 am, franc said:

    hey’ thank u so much…

    Reply

  30. July 08, 2009 at 1:35 am, HoTTiE 4 YoU said:

    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

    Reply

  31. July 29, 2009 at 9:42 pm, Anonymous said:

    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.

    Reply

  32. August 03, 2009 at 3:18 pm, Anonymous said:

    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.

    Reply

  33. September 19, 2009 at 11:31 am, Anonymous said:

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

    Reply

  34. September 28, 2009 at 10:01 am, Anonymous said:

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

    Reply

  35. October 20, 2009 at 4:54 am, Anonymous said:

    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.

    Reply

  36. November 01, 2009 at 10:11 am, Anonymous said:

    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

    Reply

  37. November 12, 2009 at 6:25 am, Anonymous said:

    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.

    Reply

    • July 19, 2012 at 6:56 pm, Chirag said:

      > HEY ..M UN HIDING MY IN FILE AND FOLDER MENU ..BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE ANY CHANGE IN IT..AGAIN IT SHOWING THE SAME COULD U SUGGEST ME SOMETHING

      Reply

  38. November 30, 2009 at 11:22 pm, Anonymous said:

    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?

    Reply

  39. December 13, 2009 at 5:39 pm, anonymous said:

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

    Reply

  40. December 15, 2009 at 1:22 am, Anonymous said:

    Didn’t work. But thanks.

    Reply

  41. January 16, 2010 at 9:27 pm, Anonymous said:

    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…

    Reply

  42. January 21, 2010 at 12:53 pm, Anonymous said:

    still i can’t open the hidden file

    Reply

  43. January 29, 2010 at 7:33 pm, Anonymous said:

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

    Reply

  44. February 03, 2010 at 4:23 pm, Jro said:

    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.

    Reply

  45. February 14, 2010 at 12:55 pm, Anonymous said:

    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..:)

    Reply

  46. February 28, 2010 at 9:36 pm, Anonymous said:

    thanks alot frnd

    Reply

  47. June 03, 2010 at 6:52 pm, Khans said:

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

    Reply

  48. June 21, 2010 at 5:29 am, Vikrant33 said:

    thanx….

    Reply

  49. July 26, 2010 at 4:40 pm, Pryce1 said:

    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?

    Thanks

    Ian

    Reply

  50. August 16, 2010 at 3:27 am, Wws Admin said:

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

    Reply

  51. August 18, 2010 at 3:47 am, Frosenx said:

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

    Reply

    • April 07, 2011 at 11:07 am, Vanessia_1999 said:

      1. Click the round blue Start thing in the left corner bottom of your computer..to 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

      Reply

  52. September 16, 2010 at 4:59 am, Rameakbal said:

    thanks

    Reply

  53. September 21, 2010 at 4:11 am, Anon8674 said:

    MY GOD THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH!!!!!! UR A TOTAL LIFE SAVER!!!!!!!!!!!! I SPENT DAYS ON THIS IMPORTANT FOLDER!!!!!!!! THANK U SO MUCH!!!! U SAVED MY LIFE AND CAREER!!!!

    Reply

  54. October 04, 2010 at 9:30 am, Florent Gill said:

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

    Thanks a lot

    F Gill

    Reply

  55. October 10, 2010 at 3:43 pm, Habnouf said:

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

    Reply

  56. November 03, 2010 at 7:33 pm, Vinit shah said:

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

    Reply

  57. December 18, 2010 at 8:37 pm, Sy Holloway said:

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

    Reply

  58. January 04, 2011 at 7:03 am, mani said:

    how c hidden file with another function .

    Reply

  59. March 07, 2011 at 11:25 am, Crisha said:

    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! :)

    Reply

  60. June 05, 2011 at 11:38 pm, amstelleer said:

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

    Reply

  61. July 04, 2011 at 3:03 pm, rilyn said:

    thanks. it helps me :) )

    Reply

  62. September 08, 2011 at 6:05 am, Dante said:

    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

    Reply

  63. January 01, 2012 at 3:45 pm, Hassan said:

    Thank you Dude.
    Very helpful lines.

    Reply

  64. May 07, 2012 at 8:23 am, cj said:

    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? :( thanks a lot.

    Reply

  65. May 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm, I have vista said:

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

    Reply

  66. September 04, 2012 at 5:18 pm, vani said:

    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?

    Reply

  67. January 12, 2013 at 11:20 am, johnathan galvan said:

    I need to find him

    Reply

  68. January 29, 2013 at 2:25 pm, Johnathan Galvan said:

    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.

    Reply

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