How to show hidden files and folders in Windows 11 [Guide]

Like its predecessors, Windows 11 also gives you the option to show hidden system files and folders that are not visible in File Explorer by default. The easiest way to enable the feature is through File Explorer itself, but you can also do it through Control Panel or Windows Settings. We will show you all the methods to enable this feature and show hidden files and folders in this article.

Show hidden files and folders in Windows 11 (2021)

In addition to the methods mentioned above, you can also see hidden files and folders using Control Panel and Windows PowerShell in Windows 11. Not only will we explain all these methods, but we will also detail how to see hidden operating system files in Windows 11 in this article. So let’s get started without further ado.

Method 1: Show hidden files and folders in File Explorer

The easiest way to show hidden files and folders in Windows 11 is using File Explorer. There are two ways to do this based on whether you are using the default File Explorer minimalist view in Windows 11 or the traditional Windows 10 look and feel with the detailed banner at the top. Here are the two methods:

  • First, launch File Explorer by clicking its icon on the taskbar. If you cannot see the File Explorer icon on the Taskbar, look for “file explorer” (without quotes) in the Windows Search Bar and select the first search result.
  • Your next action will depend on whether the File Explorer toolbar at the top has the traditional ribbon view or the default minimalist view in Windows 11. For the latter, click the button Ellipse icon (three dots) and select “options” in the drop-down menu. Then skip the next step and go to step 4 directly.
How to show hidden files and folders in Windows 11
  • Now, clicking on “Options” will open the Folder Options pop-up window. Here, navigate to the “To view” tab. Then, under Advanced Settings, scroll down and select the radio button next to “Show hidden files, folders and drives” to enable the feature. Finally, click ‘OK’ at the bottom of the window to save the change.

Observation: You can choose to view all protected operating system files by unchecking the “Hide protected operating system files” checkbox as shown in the screenshot below.

Show hidden files and folders in Windows 11

Observation: If you don’t already know, learn how to make Windows 11 look like Windows 10 by customizing the start menu, right-click context menu and file explorer options. You can learn how to enable old Windows 10 ribbon style menu options in this article.

  • For those using the traditional ribbon layout at the top of the File Explorer window, navigate to the “To view” and check the box next to “hidden items“. That’s it! It is not necessary to restart File Explorer for the change to take effect.
Show hidden files and folders in Windows 11

Now, whatever File Explorer UI you are using in Windows 11, you will see all the hidden files and folders on your PC.

Method 2: Enable ‘Show hidden files’ option using Control Panel

  • Open the Control Panel on your Windows 11 computer. To do this, search for “control panel” (without quotes) in the Windows search bar and select “Control panel” of the results.
How to show hidden files and folders in Windows 11
  • In the Control Panel, make sure you are using the “icon view (small or big). Then select “File Explorer Options“.
How to show hidden files and folders in Windows 11
  • In the File Explorer Options pop-up window, make sure you are in the “To view” tab. Now scroll down and activate “Show hidden files, folders and drives” using the corresponding radio button. Click OK to save the changes.
Show hidden files and folders in Windows 11

That’s it! Windows 11 File Explorer will now display all your hidden files and folders.

Method 3: Enable ‘Show hidden files’ option in Windows 11 settings

You can also enable the ‘Show hidden files…’ option in Windows 11 using the Settings menu. See how it works:

  • Open Settings using the Windows 11 keyboard shortcut Windows key + I. Then select “privacy and security” in the left sidebar and click “for developers” in the right pane.
How to show hidden files and folders in Windows 11
  • Now scroll down in the right pane and in File Explorer find the option “Change settings to show hidden and system files”. Click on the “show settings” beside him.
Show hidden files and folders in Windows 11

Now you will again see the same ‘File Explorer Options’ pop-up window as in Method 2. Follow the instructions detailed above to show hidden files and folders in Windows 11 File Explorer.

Method 4: Show Hidden Files and Folders in Command Prompt

Another way to display a list of hidden files and folders on your Windows 11 computer is by using Command Prompt. See how you do it:

  • First, open a command prompt window in Admin mode. To do this, search for “cmd” (without quotes) in the Windows search bar and click “Execute as administrator“.
How to show hidden files and folders in Windows 11
  • Now type cd followed by a space and then copy + paste the full path of the folder where your hidden files are stored. Then press Enter. The screenshot below shows what it would look like if the path were C:UsersKunduDesktopDesktopStuff.
How to show hidden files and folders in Windows 11
  • Now type dir /ah to see a list of all hidden files and folders in that folder.
Show hidden files and folders in Windows 11

That’s it! The above command will only show the hidden files or folders in any location. In my case, Demo Folder is a hidden folder created for demo purposes.

Observation: This method will only show hidden files or folders in the command prompt window. To make hidden items always visible in File Explorer, you will have to follow one of three methods above.

Method 5: Show Hidden Files in Windows PowerShell

If you really like command line methods, you can also use Windows PowerShell to see hidden files and folders in Windows 11. Here’s how:

  • First, open Windows PowerShell in Admin mode on your PC. To do this, search for “powershell” in the Windows search bar and click on Execute as administrator.
How to show hidden files and folders in Windows 11
  • In the PowerShell window, type cd followed by a space and copy and paste the full path of the folder where the hidden files are located, just like the Command Prompt method. And then press Enter.
How to show hidden files and folders in Windows 11
  • Finally, to see the hidden files in that folder location, type dir -force and press Enter. That’s it. Now you can see all your hidden files and folders in the destination folder on your Windows 11 PC.
Show hidden files and folders in Windows 11

Observation: If you are not sure which folder contains hidden files, enter the full path of the folder whose subfolders may contain hidden files. Then use the following command: dir - recurse -force

Show hidden files and folders on your Windows 11 computer

Being able to see hidden files and folders in Windows 11 is pretty easy, but there’s a note of caution here. Many of these files are used by the operating system and are of critical importance for the proper functioning of your PC. So don’t change them in any way unless you know what you’re doing. That said, now that you know how to show hidden files and folders on your PC, check out some of our other Windows 11 tutorials. This includes how to change power mode settings in Windows 11 and how to change administrator in Windows 11.

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