How to view hidden files, folders and extension for known file types on Windows 7, Vista and XP

By default, on Windows systems, operating system files and folders are protected by making them hidden.  So users can’t see this type of files and folders when Windows explorer is used. This is a protection measure against unwanted actions as delete, copy, rename that could make the operating system unstable or inoperable.

Also, the file extensions (for example, file.txt is a text file with a .txt extension) are not showed. This is a protection measure against distracted rename actions that could delete the extension. This piece of information from the filename is used, by the operating system, to identify the application to be used to open the file when the user double-clicks on it (.txt files are normally opened with Notepad; .doc files are opened with MS Word).

The Windows user can view hidden files, folders and extension for known file types. (as a programmer, it is often required to edit the filename extension) by setting view options for Windows Explorer.

Solution for:  Windows Vista (Home, Business, Enterprise, Ultimate), Windows Server 2008 + R2 (Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter), Windows 7 (Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate)

Windows 7 - Folder Options

Windows 7 - Folder Options

  1. Open Windows Explorer (fast way: keyboard Windows button + E)
  2. From the menu select Organize ->Folder and search Options
  3. On the Folder Options window select the View tab
  4. To view hidden files and folders
    • check Show hidden files, folders and drives option
    • uncheck Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) option
  5. To view files extensions uncheck Hide extensions for known file types option
Windows Folder Options - View Settings

Windows Folder Options - View Settings

Solution for Windows XP (Home Edition, Professional)

  1. Open Windows Explorer (fast way: keyboard Windows button + E)
  2. From the menu select Tools -> Folder and search Options
  3. On the Folder Options window select the View tab
  4. To view hidden files and folders:
    • check Show hidden files, folders and drives option
    • uncheck Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) option
  5. To view files extensions uncheck Hide extensions for known file types option