How to show hidden files on Windows 10

  • To show hidden files on Windows 10, open “File Explorer” (Windows key + E), click the “View” tab, and check “Hidden items.” 
  • To show hidden protected files, open “File Explorer,” click the “View” tab, click “Options,” check the “Show hidden, folders, and drives” option, deselect the “Clear the Hide protected operating system files” option, click “Apply,” and “OK.”
  • You can also use commands with PowerShell and Command Prompt.

UPDATED 10/21/2023: On Windows 10, sometimes, you may need to show hidden files on File Explorer or in a command-line application to change system or app configurations. Usually, these items are hidden to avoid clutter or prevent accidental deletion of important components that may corrupt the operating system.

If you want to view hidden files and folders, Windows 10 offers many ways to complete this task using File Explorer, Command Prompt, and even PowerShell.

In this tutorial, I will teach you the easy steps to show hidden items on Windows 10.

Show hidden files on Windows 10

On Windows 10, you can show hidden files through File Explorer and commands to change configurations or troubleshoot problems, and here’s how.

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1. Unhide files from File Epxlorer

To show hidden files in File Explorer on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer on Windows 10.

  2. Click on the View tab.

  3. Under the “Show/hide” section, check the Hidden items option.

    File Explorer show hidden files

Once you complete the steps, File Explorer will show the hidden and unhidden items, but it’ll continue to hide other protected files. 

Show hidden protected files

To see hidden protected operating system files on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Click on the View tab.

  3. Click the Options button.

    File Explorer options

  4. Click the View tab.

  5. Under the “Advanced settings” section, check the Show hidden, folders, and drives option. 

  6. Clear the Hide protected operating system files option. 

    Show protected hidden files

  7. Click the Apply button.

  8. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, you will now be able to see hidden files and protected Windows 10 files within File Explorer.

2. Unhide files from Command Prompt

To display hidden files and folders while in Command Prompt, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the  Run as administrator option.

  3. Type the following command to list hidden files for the location and press Enter:

    dir /adh

    Command Prompt show hidden files

When working with the dir command, you can display hidden content in several ways using the following switches:

  • /a – only shows hidden folders.
  • /a:d – only shows all directories.
  • /a:h – only shows all hidden files.
  • /adh – shows a combination of the options above.
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After you complete the steps, the command will allow you to see hidden files and folders while in Command Prompt without changing the File Explorer configurations.

3. Unhide files from PowerShell

To create a list of hidden and protected operating system files with PowerShell, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for PowerShell, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.

  3. Type the following command to view all the hidden files and folders for the location, and press Enter:

    dir -Force

    PowerShell show hidden files/li>

Once you complete the steps, the command will show hidden files and folders, but it will not change the folder options in File Explorer.

This tutorial focuses on Windows 10, but this feature has been available for a long time, so the steps will also work on Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and older versions.

Update October 21, 2023: These instructions have been updated to ensure correctness and reflect new changes.

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