How to show hidden files and folders on Windows 10

You can list hidden files and folders in a number of ways, and in this guide, you'll learn how to do this on Windows 10 using File Explorer, Command Prompt, and PowerShell.

Windows 10 show hidden files

On Windows 10, sometimes when changing system or apps settings, you may have to access files and folders that are hidden from users. Usually, these files and folders are hidden to avoid clutter or to prevent accidental deletion of important components that may corrupt the system.

If you want to see hidden files and folders, Windows 10 offers a number of ways to do this using File Explorer, Command Prompt, and even PowerShell.

In this guide, you’ll learn the easy steps to show hidden files and folders on Windows 10.

How to show hidden files and folders using File Explorer

To quickly show hidden files and folders in File Explorer, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Click on the View tab.

  3. Check the Hidden items option.

    Show hidden files and folders in File Explorer
    Show hidden files and folders in File Explorer

After completing the steps, File Explorer will list hidden as well as unhidden items, but it’ll continue to hide other protected files. 

Showing hidden protected operating system files

If you also want to see hidden protected operating system files, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Click on the View tab.

  3. Click the Options button.

    File Explorer folder options button
    File Explorer folder options button
  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 hidden operating system files
    Show hidden operating system files
  7. Click the Apply button.

  8. Click the OK button.

Once you’ve completed the steps, you’ll now be able to see hidden files as well as protected operating system files using File Explorer.

How to show hidden files and folders using Command Prompt

If you need to list 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 Run as administrator.

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

    dir /adh

    Show hidden files using Command Prompt
    Show hidden files using Command Prompt

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.

Using the above commands will allow you to see hidden files and folders while in Command Prompt, but it’ll not change folder options in File Explorer.

How to show hidden files and folders using PowerShell

Alternatively, you can also see a list of hidden and protected operating system files using PowerShell with these steps:

  1. Open Start.

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

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

    dir -Force

    Show hidden files using PowerShell
    Show hidden files using PowerShell

Using the above command will show hidden files and folders, but it’ll not change the folder options for File Explorer.

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