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How to view hidden system files and folders on Windows 10

Windows 10 has lots of system files and many of them are hidden. Showing hidden files on Windows 10 is pretty easy. All you have to do is open File Explorer and go to the View tab. You’ll find a ‘Hidden items’ checkbox there. Select it, and you’ll be able to see most hidden files and folders. We say most because even with this option enabled, some files and folders are still hidden. These are system files and folders and tampering with them is never a good idea which is why they’re not easily shown. That said, you can still view hidden system files and folders. You just need to enable the setting a little differently.

View hidden system files and folders

In order to view hidden system files and folders, open File Explorer. Go to the View tab. At the very end, you will see a button called ‘Options’. Click it, and select ‘Change folder and search options’.

In the window that opens, go to the View tab. Under the ‘Advanced settings’ section, look for an option called ‘Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)’, and uncheck it. You will get a confirmation asking if you actually want to unhide these files since they’re important and should not be tampered with. Confirm the change in the prompt, and then click Apply on the Folder Options window.

The system files that you’ve just unhidden reside in your Windows drive. Visit it and you will see that it has more folders and a few more files than it normally does.

One large file you will find here if you have hibernation enabled is the hiberfil.sys file. Its size will depend on your system settings and while you can delete it directly from here, you really shouldn’t. There are better, safer ways to delete the hibernation file on Windows 10.

Showing these hidden system files and folders isn’t hard but just because you can see them in File Explorer doesn’t mean you will be able to modify them easily. You will find that in many cases, the folders that are revealed cannot be accessed even if you’re signed in with the admin account.

If you need to access the contents of one of these folders, you should first and foremost know exactly what you’re doing. You should also create a system restore point in case things go bad. Once you do that, you will have to change the permissions for the folders.

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