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How To Show Hidden Files & Folders On Windows 11

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Windows 11 is here and it’s brought some significant changes to the UI for the OS. And, as might be expected, that may make it a bit more difficult to accomplish the tasks you’re used to. Especially since some features, such as Windows 11 keeping some files and folders hidden and, of course, the ability to show those by default, have remained.

The reasons you might want to take a peek at files and folders that are hidden are numerous. Whether you’re setting those items to hidden on your own to keep prying eyes away. Or simply trying to see what the system has hidden from you all on its own. For instance, to check what Android app files might be tucked away there.

Fortunately, if you’re looking to show hidden items such as files and folders on Windows 11, you’ve come to the right place. That’s exactly what this guide is here to discuss.

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Here’s how you can show hidden files on Windows 11 via the File Explorer app

Now, there are actually two primary ways to show hidden files on Windows 11. Regardless of which method you use, however, this is going to be a relatively easy process. And it will be made all the easier if you happen to have used Windows before. Even if you haven’t used Windows 11. And, of course, the first step is to launch File Explorer following one of the steps below.

  1. The first method we’ll cover for launching File Explorer will be the easiest for most users. In Windows 11, by default, File Explorer is pinned to the taskbar. So the first method is to simply tap — for touch screens — or click on the File Explorer icon. That’s the file folder-shaped icon located at the center — by default — of the taskbar. As shown in the first image below
  2. For those who don’t see the File Explorer on the taskbar by default, or for those who have removed it, you can also find the File Explorer by first tapping or clicking on the four-square-shaped Windows 11 Start icon. Or press the Windows key on your keyboard. Then, there are two methods for finding File Explorer. The first will be to use the search bar located at the top of the resulting UI to type the words “File Explorer” and then click the appropriate icon.
  3. Conversely, you may also choose to tap or click the Windows 11 Start icon or use the Windows key, as detailed in step two here, and then tap or click on the “All apps” option. From there, scroll down to find File Explorer
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Set the view to show hidden items

There are also two methods to show hidden items in File Explorer, once that’s open. The first is relatively straightforward.

  1. Locate the “View” menu at the top of the UI in File Explorer, as shown in the images below. Tap or click on that icon
  2. Hover your mouse over the “Show” option, located at the bottom of the resulting menu. You can also tap the option if you’re using a touch screen
  3. Click or tap on the “Hidden items” option
  4. File Explorer will now show any folders or files that are being hidden
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Of course, you may also accomplish the same task by diving a bit deeper into the menu. And, conversely, you can apply the change to all folders too.

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  1. In the File Explorer app, tap or click on the three-dot overflow menu icon, as shown in the images below
  2. Select “Options,” located at the bottom of the corresponding menu
  3. Tap or click on the “View,” located near the top of the Folder Options pop-up UI
  4. Under “Advanced settings,” tap or click on the radial button next to the “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” option. That can be found under the “Hidden files and folders” directory, within the “Files and Folders” directory of the Advanced settings. As shown in the images below
  5. Now, you may either click or tap on the “Apply” button or the “OK” button at the bottom of the Folder Options UI. Selecting “OK” will close the options, while selecting “Apply” will apply the options while keeping the menu open
  6. Conversely, selecting “Apply to Folders” at the top of the page will apply the change to all folders of a given type. This should apply the change to all standard folders, in our example
  7. File Explorer will now show all hidden items
  8. To revert the change, simply select the “Don’t show hidden files, folders, or drives” radial button option and use the same method as before to apply the change. Or select the “Reset Folders” option at the top of the UI. Note that using the Reset option will also undo any other changes made to the View segment of the Folder Options menu
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You can push this change without going through the trouble of opening the File Explorer app too

Of course, you can also access the above-mentioned Folder Options UI without ever opening File Explorer. And, as with so many of our how-to guides, it’s easy if you know where to look.

  1. Tap or click on the Windows icon in the taskbar
  2. Using the search bar, search for “File Explorer”
  3. Instead of opening the “App,” located under the “Best match” subheading, tap or click on the “File Explorer Options” option under the “Settings” subheading
  4. Follow steps three through seven from the final segment above to change the hidden items option
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