Cannot view hidden files in Windows Explorer

The Problem

When you view files and folders using Windows Explorer, you are unable to see hidden files. Experienced users will go to the Tools->Folder Options menu and change the setting as shown below:

Folder Options window
Folder Options window

If you are able to see hidden files after this, then you dont need to read this article further. However, if you still are not able to see hidden files and you come back to the Folder Options window and find that the ‘Show hidden files and folders’ has reverted back to its unchecked state, then read further.

First Reaction

The most logical thing in such a case would be to check for viruses, trojans, spyware and malware. Use well-known free or paid virus scanners and anti-spyware tools. Hopefully, after cleaning, if you come back to the Folder Options window and check ‘Show hidden files…’, it should work.

Aarrgh! What the heck!

‘Show hidden files and folders’ has reverted back to its unchecked state? Again? To fix this, and assuming your system is not infected, you need to change two registry keys. To do this you need to have administrator rights.

Please note , this article assumes you are confortable with using the Registry Editor. Making a mistake while editing could send your Windows into disaster zone.

1.Go to the command prompt and load regedit.exe.

2.First go to the key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerAdvanced

FolderHiddenSHOWALL

3.In the right pane, the current value of CheckedValue would most likely be set to 2. Edit and make it 1.

HKLM key
HKLM key

4.Next go to the key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerAdvanced

5.In the right pane, the value of Hidden will be set to 2. Edit it to make it 1.

HKEY CURRENT USER
HKEY CURRENT USER

6.Close the registry editor and refresh Windows Explorer now. You should be able to see the hidden files and folders.

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