Aug 20 2007

Unhide Operating System Files In Vista

Windows Vista by default hides the operating system files so you can’t delete or change them, but you can make them visible again in Explorer by changing a few simple settings. Here’s how.

Right click Start and select Explore.

In Windows Explorer, select Tools.

If you don’t see the tools menu press the ALt key.

Click Folder Options.


Click the View tab.

Under Hidden Files and Folder, click the option button to show hidden files and folders. Now all the hidden files are visible.

While your in this screen also uncheck (Hide extensions for known file types) so your file extensions are always visible.

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    15 Comments on this post


    1. Top 20 Visited Posts for the Month of January 2008 | Vista Revisited wrote:

      […] Unhide Operating System Files In Vista […]

      September 6th, 2008 at 4:39 am
    1. Lorenzo W. said:

      Have you noticed that, after fixing all the hidden file crap that MS foists on us by default, the commmand prompt (or the lousy excuse for one) that comes with Vista, STILL won’t show certain system files? Open the “DOS” prompt and go to C:\. Dir, and you won’t see hiberfil.sys, pagefile.sys, only config.sys. I suspect that other hidden system files are still hidden in the command prompt, too. This sucks. Any known cures?


      November 29th, 2007 at 8:11 pm
    2. Lorenzo W. said:

      P.S. Nor does the Vista “DOS Prompt” include the “attrib” command, so there’s no changing file attributes now (such as “hidden” and “system” and “read only”). At least not from the Dos Prompt. A number of other once-standard DOS commands have been scrapped.

      Microsoft must protect us from ourselves, you see.


      November 29th, 2007 at 8:21 pm
    3. Lorenzo W. said:

      OOPS! My bad re the “attrib” command. Brain fart. It’s there, I must have dreamed otherwise.



      November 29th, 2007 at 8:26 pm
    4. Kevin said:

      @ Lorenzo, They also won’t show up after enabling show super hidden files,
      Very strange.

      December 3rd, 2007 at 6:40 pm
    5. Dom said:

      Try to type:
      dir c:\ /a:hs
      and you will see all the hidden/system file

      March 29th, 2008 at 12:48 pm
    6. kishan said:

      this isnt what i was asking for an aswer for what i want to know is how do you move them im a admin and still its saying unserfishunt rights

      May 27th, 2008 at 7:46 am
    7. kishan said:

      if you have an idea email me on

      May 27th, 2008 at 7:47 am
    8. Kevin said:

      @ kishan, I’m really not sure what your asking, maybe you could clarify your question.

      May 27th, 2008 at 3:58 pm
    9. Randy Smith said:

      I guess my comment is more as a question. I tried to follow your instructions for “Unhide Operating System Files In Vista”. I right clicked on start, clicked on explore, but instead of opening in “start menu”, it opens in: C:\Users\Randall Smith\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu . Even if I type in start menu, hit enter. It still comes up the same.

      Also, I tried another article of yours and you ask to click on START, then click on RUN. There is no run! I have everything showing on your diagram all the way down to HELP and SUPPORT. But no RUN. Do i have a different version of VISTA?

      January 27th, 2009 at 10:11 am
    10. Kevin said:

      @ Randy, It’s ok for that to open that way, what you want to look for is the tools menu as shown in the pic above, if you don’t see it Press the ALT key and it should appear. then just follow the rest of the instructions.

      To add the Run command to your Start menu check out my previous post.

      If you still have a problem let me know.

      January 27th, 2009 at 5:10 pm
    11. Leland said:

      So, I’ve followed all the steps in this article, but the place where I get stuck is that the show hidden files and folders selection circle is not there. Instead there is a black square that I can’t get rid of. So, I can’t select the option to show hidden items. How can I get around this?

      September 9th, 2009 at 12:14 pm
    12. Scott said:

      @ Leland, you can try the Restore Defaults button, If that doesn’t help I would run a good virus and spyware checker to see if you have infection. Anything that blocks your ability to see hidden files is a sign of infection.

      September 9th, 2009 at 1:58 pm
    13. Leland said:

      So restore defaults doesn’t do anything. I also ran McAfee, but that didn’t turn up any viruses or spyware. The place where my problem differs from this article is that whole folders have gone missing randomly, but when I type in the folder location manually in the directories bar, they come up, otherwise they don’t come up at all.
      Thanks for the help

      September 10th, 2009 at 3:36 pm
    14. sabin said:

      i tried this step lots of times but still i cant change those settings even though i click on apply settings remains same and i cant view hidden files.

      March 3rd, 2010 at 7:23 am


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