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Windows 7 - How to Display Hidden Files and Folders

Many files and folders are hidden in Windows 7. This often includes important operating system files which should generally not be tampered with, especially by the inexperienced user. Core system files are also hidden separately so that the casual user has no way of interacting with them. By default, all hidden files and folders are set to remain hidden in Windows 7. If you want to display all of the files on your computer, including protected operating system files, follow these tips.

Start Windows Explorer by clicking "Computer" in the start menu. When Windows Explorer appears, click "Organize" to the left of the window and choose "Folder and search options" to open the Folder Options window. Click the "View" tab. Scrolling down the list, you'll see two settings. Underneath "Hidden Files and Folders," click "Show hidden files, folders and drives" and click "Apply" to apply the settings or click "OK" to save the settings and close the window.

You'll see another setting here which is also checked by default. Deselecting "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)," will enable you to see system files which are important for the operation of your computer. Attempting to modify or delete these files can cause major problems for your computer, sometimes necessitating a complete reinstallation of Windows. Because of this, when you attempt to deselect the option, Windows will warn you before you continue. Most users will want to keep these files hidden.

Hidden files and folders are also accessible by typing the name into the address bar in the top of the Windows Explorer. If you know the address of a hidden folder or file, you can enter it manually instead of having to display hidden files and folders.

You can also choose to make a file or folder hidden. To do this, simply right-click on the file and go to "Properties." In the attributes section of the properties window, check the box beside "Hidden." Click "OK" when done. The icon depicting the file or folder will fade. When you return to that location, you'll be unable to see it. To access it, either show hidden files and folders or type in the address.


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