Learn how to show hidden files and folders on Windows 11 via File Explorer options and some minor tweaks in the Registry.
Hidden files are the ones that are not listed in the File Explorer under normal settings. These could either be simple files or core system files. The system files are hidden in order to ensure that no untoward change is made on the user’s part. Moving or deleting a system file could affect the critical functions of the system and, in the worst case, render it unusable.
However, sometimes you may need to view or access the hidden files, thus the need to show them along with the other files arises. Let’s see how you show the hidden files.
Show Hidden Items from View Menu in File Explorer
To show the hidden files in File Explorer, click on the ‘View’ menu in the command bar at the top.
Now, hover the cursor over ‘Show’ in the drop-down menu and select the ‘Hidden items’ option. This will enable the showing of hidden files.
The hidden files across the system will now be shown. You will notice that the hidden file icon is a bit faded or translucent, thus distinguishing it from the other files and folders present.
Show Hidden Files and Folders from File Explorer Options
To show the hidden files in the File Explorer, click on the ‘More’ icon in the command bar, and select ‘Options’ from the drop-down menu.
Next, navigate to the ‘View’ tab and locate ‘Hidden files and folders’ under ‘Advanced settings’. Now, select the ‘Show hidden files, folders, and drives’ option and click on ‘OK’ at the bottom to save the changes and close the window.
This will show the hidden files, folders, and drives in the File Explorer. However, if you want to view the hidden system files, you can enable showing them as well from the File Explorer options.
To view the hidden system files, launch the ‘Folder Options’ as discussed earlier, navigate to the ‘View’ tab, and uncheck the ‘Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)’ option.
As soon as you try to uncheck it, a confirmation box pops up mentioning that these files are critical to the functioning of Windows, and editing or deleting them can render the system unusable. Click on ‘Yes’ to proceed.
Finally, click on ‘OK’ at the bottom of the ‘Folder Options’ to save the changes.
The critical operating system files will now all be visible.
Note: We advise against making any changes to the critical system files or deleting them unless you understand the process. Morever, you should hide them back once you are done working on them.
Enable Hidden Files and Fodlers from Registry Editor
As is the case with other settings, you can also show the hidden files by modifying a few data values in the Registry. When making changes to the Registry, you must follow the steps below as it is and not make any other changes, since any lapse on your part can render the system inoperable.
To view hidden files via Registry, press WINDOWS + R to launch the Run command, type ‘regedit’ in the text field, and either click on ‘OK’ at the bottom or press ENTER to launch the Registry Editor.
In the Registry Editor, enter the following path in the address bar at the top and press ENTER.
Now, locate the ‘Hidden’ option on the right and double-click on it.
Note: If you don’t find the ‘Hidden’ DWORD, right-click anywhere on the free space, hover the cursor over ‘New’, select ‘DWORD (32-bit) Value’, and name it as ‘Hidden’.
Now, change the value under ‘Value data’ from ‘2’ to ‘1’. When it’s set to ‘2’, the hidden files won’t be shown, while changing it to ‘1’ will show the hidden files. Click on ‘OK’ to save the changes.
To view the hidden system files, locate ‘ShowSuperHidden’ in the same location and double-click on it.
Note: If you don’t find the ‘ShowSuperHidden’ DWORD, right-click anywhere on the free space, hover the cursor over ‘New’, select ‘DWORD (32-bit) Value’, and name it as ‘ShowSuperHidden’.
Now change the value under ‘Value data’ from ‘0’ to ‘1’. When the value is set to ‘0’, the system files remain hidden, while changing it to ‘1’ will show the system files. Click on ‘OK’ at the bottom to save the changes.
The changes will reflect right away in the File Explorer. In case it doesn’t, refresh once or close and relaunch the ‘File Explorer’.
With the above methods, you can easily show both the normally hidden files and hidden system files in the File Explorer on Windows 11. We do not recommend keeping the system files shown for long, as you may inadvertently make changes to them, which could affect the functioning of the system.