How to Find a Hidden File on Your Computer
Level of difficulty:
One of the main reasons why some files are hidden by Windows is that a user may unknowingly modify or delete them and this may prove catastrophic for the Operating System (OS). There are times when these files actually need to be accessed, such as when troubleshooting or when removing malicious software from your computer, since these harmful programs use hidden files to make them hard to detect and remove.
- Windows OS
The steps will vary according to the type of Operating System you have installed in your computer.
For Windows Vista users, make sure that all programs are closed before you begin. Go and click on the 'Start' button and move to 'Control Panel'. The window that appears will depend on the type of view you have set. If set to Control Panel Home View, access the link 'Appearance and Personalization'. Once there, select 'Show Hidden Files or Folders'. In the Hidden Files and Folders window, select the button marked as 'Show hidden files and folders'. If your system is set to the 'Classic View', just select 'Folder Options', go to 'View', and select the button marked as 'Show hidden files and folders' in the Hidden Files and Folders window. Remove the check marks beside both 'Hide extensions for known file types' and 'Hide protected Operating System files'. Click on 'Apply' and then 'OK'.
For users of Windows XP, go to the Control Panel. In the Control Panel window, select 'Folder Options'. On the window that opens, select 'View'. Find 'Advance' settings. From here, click on 'Show hidden files and folders' and remove the 'Hide protected Operating System files' mark as well as 'Hide protected Operating System files'. Click on 'OK' to show these hidden files and folders.
For Windows 98, make sure that all programs are closed and go to the desktop. Go to My Computer, then to 'View', and proceed to 'Folder Options'. On the window that will appear, select 'View'. Look for 'Show all files' and click on it. Click on the 'Apply' button and then 'OK'.
After these different steps (depending on your Operating System), you will now be able to see the hidden files and folders in your computer. Just remember that changing some of the files, especially system files, can cause significant changes in the way your computer behaves. Thus, it should be done with care.