By default, Windows Explorer does not display files with the “Hidden” attribute. However, there is an easy way to show hidden files and folders in Windows. Hidden files and folders will be dimmed to indicate that they are not typical items and are usually program or system files that should not be deleted or modified.
NOTE. In addition to the “Hidden files and folders” option discussed in this post, hidden files and folders can be viewed by using search or by using the “dir / a” command (without quotes) in a command prompt window.
To access the Hidden Files and Folders options, open My Computer in Windows XP or Computer in Windows 7 and select Folder Options from the Tools menu.
When you click the View tab in the Folder Options dialog box, you may encounter a situation where both radio buttons are checked in the Hidden Files and Folders section, as shown in the image below.
Both switches can be set at once if your system is infected with malware that modifies some keys in the registry. To view the affected registry keys, choose Run from the Start menu.
In the Run dialog box, enter regedit (without quotes) in the Open edit box and click OK.
If the settings for hidden files and folders are corrupted, the CheckedValue registry value for the following registry keys may have changed.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Explorer Advanced Folder Hidden NOHIDDEN
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Explorer Advanced Folder Hidden SHOWALL
NOTE. Many viruses disable or corrupt the settings of hidden files and folders, so their hidden malicious executable or script will not show up in File Explorer. Some viruses may even completely remove the Hidden Files and Folders options in the View tab of the Folder Options dialog box.
To close Registry Editor, choose Exit from the File menu.
To fix corrupted settings for hidden files and folders, right-click the following link and select Save Link As (in Firefox) or Save Target As (in Internet Explorer) to save the foldersettings.reg file.
NOTE. When you save the foldersettings.reg file, Windows may add the .txt extension to the file, since it is essentially a text file. Edit the file name and remove the .txt extension.
In Windows Explorer, navigate to where you saved the foldersettings.reg file, right-click the file and choose Merge from the pop-up menu. The fix to this registry entry file can be applied in both Windows XP and Windows 7 / Vista.
NOTE. When you try to merge the foldersettings.reg file, you may run into a problem opening the file and see the following Security Warning dialog box. We scanned this file for viruses and then used it to fix the problem, and the file does not appear infected or corrupted. Click “Run” to close it.
Or, you may see an error dialog like the one below. If you are confronted with this dialog box instead, click OK to close it.
To be able to merge the foldersettings.reg file, right-click the file and select Properties from the pop-up menu.
The Properties dialog box for the foldersettings.reg file opens. Make sure the General tab is active. Click the “Unblock” button.
Click OK to close the Properties dialog box.
A confirmation dialog will open to make sure you really want to add the information from the .reg file to the registry. Click Yes.
A dialog box is then displayed that says the information has been successfully added to the registry. Click OK.
The options are fixed and the Show hidden files and folders option is selected. Now you can change the selected parameter as you like.
NOTE. Even if you select the Show hidden files and folders option, you may not be able to see some protected operating system files. These protected files are not intended to be visible to you, as they are not intended to be modified by a normal Windows user.
However, if necessary, you can view these files by clearing the Hide protected system files (recommended) check box on the View tab of the Folder Options dialog box.
Be sure to keep your antivirus software up to date and run full system scans regularly. We also recommend that you install an anti-malware program such as Spybot and periodically scan it for malware.
Posted by Laurie Kaufman