How to open hidden files on Windows 10

by Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • Some folders are masked by default, so that's why many users are interested in discovering how to open hidden files on Windows 10.
  • To easily view specific unseen content on your PC, you have to access Control Panel.
  • In order to open invisible folders, Command Prompt and PowerShell are two of your main allies.
How to view and open hidden files on Windows 10

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You will recognize the hidden files while browsing through folders by their invisible nature, which means you cannot see them without allowing them to be seen.

In Windows 10, such files are not displayed by default because some are marked hidden automatically, as they shouldn’t be modified by changing, deleting them, or even moving them from their location.

This indicates that they are important system-related files and we recommend carefully reading our dedicated guide in this matter.

However, there are times when you need to see and/or open those hidden files, if upgrading your software or if you’re trying to fix a particular issue on your PC.

This article describes how you can open these hidden files on your PC, so make sure you check in completely.

What are the advantages of opening hidden files?

The reasons why it would be better to open hidden files on Windows 10 are various. In the first instance, you have to consider that a folder might be bigger than the files in it, so you may want to see why is that.

Another pretty common reason seems to be related to malware and viruses. Some users claimed that they’re pretty sure that a threat like that has infected their PC through a certain hidden file.

Last, but not least, the hidden folders are great if you want to keep your private files away from cyber-criminals eyes.

However, it is important to be able to access and view them whenever you need them, regardless of the reason that stays behind.

Whatever the case, opening hidden files and folders on Windows 10 is a simple process, so you can perform it in a matter of time.

How can I open hidden files on Windows 10?

1. Use Control Panel

  1. Hit the Windows key, type Control, then open Control Panel.
  2. Select Appearance and Personalization.
  3. Click File Explorer Options.
  4. Select View tab in the File Explorer options window, then find Hidden files and folders category.
  5. There are two options: Don’t show hidden files, folders, or drives or Show hidden files, folders, and drives.
  6. If you select not to show the file, it will hide the files, folders and drives with hidden attributes.
  7. In case of choosing to show them, it will allow you to see and open the hidden files.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Test your hidden files to see if they’re still hidden. If you don’t see ProgramData folder, then the hidden files/folders are hidden from view.

It is possible to configure your operating system to show or hide hidden files in easy steps anyone can get done, through Control Panel.

Among the common hidden files and folders include ProgramData or pagefile.sys, and in older versions, you can find boot.ini, io.sys, or msdos.sys as hidden files.

2. Use Windows Settings

  1. Hit the Windows key, then type Show hidden files, and open the first result.
  2. In the right side of the opened window, under the File Explorer section, look at the Change settings to show hidden and system files, and click on Show settings.
  3. Make sure that the Show hidden files, folders, and drives is checked.
  4. Scroll down to Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) option, then uncheck the box.
  5. Confirm by clicking on Yes.

3. Use Command Prompt

  1. Press on the Windows key, type cmd, then right-click on the first result, and choose to Run as administrator.
  2. In the opened window, type the following command, then hit the Enter key: dir/ ah
  3. In case you’re not sure what folder includes the hidden files you need, just run a hidden file scan on a parent folder.
  4. To do this, in the Command Prompt window, type cd, then hit the Space key, input the full path of the folder, and press Enter.
  5. Then, run the following command: dir /ah /s

4. Access PowerShell

  1. Hit the Windows key, then type PowerShell, and open Windows PowerShell.
  2. In the opened window, use the following command, then press Enter: cd C:\Users\USER\Desktop\MyDocuments
  3. When you run the above command, make sure that instead of C:\Users\USER\Desktop\MyDocuments you input your specific full path of the folder.
  4. Now, to reveal your hidden files and folders, input this, and hit the Enter key: dir -force

5. Use a file search tool

5.1 Copernic Desktop Search

Copernic Desktop Search is a search tool, available for a free 30-day trial and can be used to open hidden files in Windows 10.

It features a clean interface with many tools that can be used for searching and finding files across several drives at the same time, whether they’re internal or external.

Once you start searching for the files, the results are delivered instantly, without you having to wait long, plus it displays everything, from newly added files to those that were modified, all in one second.

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The preview function in the program window also allows you to take a first look at the files found. If desired, the software remains in the background and hooks into the Windows taskbar as a search bar.

This tool also lets you toggle the settings to exclude custom, system, or hidden files/folders from the displayed results so that you zero in on the specific one you’re looking to.

Check out some of the most valuable features of Copernic Desktop Search:

  • Free 30-day trial
  • Excellent for finding hidden files and folders
  • Easily customizable

Copernic Desktop Search

Get rid of hidden folders and open them in a second with Copernic Desktop Search!

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5.2 Glarysoft Quick Search

Glarysoft Quick Search is another free file search utility, which quickly indexes your files with Quick Search.

This software has an extremely intuitive and easy-to-use interface. So, if you’re a beginner, it won’t give you headaches.

It displays search results on a small screen and you can press CTRL to show or hide the search bar, or open Quick Search to filter your options to show shortcuts, folders, documents, pictures, and other media files.

The tool indexes all files and folders from your drives, so you can navigate through these drives and find the file or folder you are looking for.

Glarysoft Quick Search also offers quick and real-time searching processes. In this matter, do not worry about wasting your precious time while operating with this software.

Take a look at Glarysoft Quick Search’s key features:

  • Intuitive and easy-to-use interface
  • Quick and real-time searching
  • Fast file indexing

Glarysoft Quick Search

Quick Search is the best free file search tool, so make sure you try it to open hidden folders.

A safe way to open hidden files in Windows 10 is by using a search tool. With this type of tool, you need not make any changes to your Windows settings, but this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to see the hidden files in the usual File Explorer view.

We strongly recommend using search software, as it can offer many more benefits than you can imagine.

Why are my files hidden on Windows 10?

If it’s still not clear to you why Windows would hide certain files, make sure you read what we’re about to say. The first and most important reason for this is to reduce the probability of accidentally deleting or modifying folders.

Plus, your OS also wants to prevent casual snoopers from getting into your files, which are probably private and crucial for you and your network.

Another reason you should consider is reducing visual clutter in the file directories. Thus, it helps you locate content in an easy and convenient way.

In case you’ve already upgraded your OS to the new and improved design, make sure you check how to view Hidden Folders and Files in Windows 11.

Are there other ways you use to open hidden files in Windows 10? Share with us in the comments section below.

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