How to “Unhide” Hidden Files

11 Feb

Have you ever had that problem where your files magically disappeared? Maybe it was only one of them. Or maybe it was the entire drive or folder.  

Of course, the most likely option is that you have accidentally deleted it. In which case, I recommend you run and check your “Recycle Bin.” If that doesn’t work try using one of the “Recover Deleted Files” programs. I’ll probably try to add a list of reviews for these programs later.

But sometimes what has happened is that you have accidentally Hidden your file. That’s right, you can hide a file from yourself on the computer. Occasionally, you even run into viruses (common here at our University campus computers in the classroom or in emails) that automatically hide your files from you. 

Or perhaps you are one of the people who hide your files intentionally.  There are many situations where you may want to hide you files for security’s sake. For example, as a teacher, I often hide my exams and answer sheets in an effort to limit the opportunity for cheating.  I also often hide important legal documents as a lawyer, just as an extra layer of security. 🙂

There is actually simple test to figure out if your files have been hidden or not.


  1. Open the folder your files or documents should be in.
  2. On the top of the page you’ll see a few options in the toolbar including Home, Share, View, and Play.
  3. Click View.
  4. You’ll now see four options: Panes, Layout, Current View, and Show/Hide.
  5. In the Show/Hide box, you’ll see three check-boxes. One should say Hidden Files. Make sure it is checked. 
  6. Hidden files will now appear as faded links in the folder!

Hopefully, you’ve at least found the missing files. But how do you stop them from being hidden any longer? There are three options that work for me. 

Step 1

First (if you’re really, really lucky), try this:


  1. Select the hidden file.
  2. Look back at the top under the Show/Hide option I mentioned before.  Now look next to the three check-boxes. You’ll see a funny button that says “Hide selected items.” 
  3. Try clicking that button. It should unhide the file. If so, you’ll notice that the file isn’t a faded color anymore and will be a normal file.

If That Didn’t Work . . . 

Second (if you’re really lucky), try this:

Folders 2

  1. Select the hidden file.
  2. Right click and several options should open up. At the bottom, click Properties.
  3. It will open up a page that looks like the image above. Notice the check-box at the bottom that says Hidden. If it is checked, try to UNCHECK it.  
  4. Then hit okay. That will sometimes un-hide the file.

If That Still Didn’t Work . . . 

Finally, (if you weren’t so lucky) try this:


  1. Open the folder where your hidden files are and select the hidden file.  You need to know what “Drive” (C: | D: | E:) or machine the files are on.   
    1. If you aren’t sure, look on the left of your screen. You’ll see a menu that looks like the one in the image above. Notice where it says OS, Removable Disk, SDHC. Those each represent different machines. The OS is your computer. Removable Disk is my flash drives. SDHC is a SD Card I have. They all have the C: | D: | E: letters after them. Find the letter that matches the machine your hidden file is on.
    2. If the file is on your computer, the drive is C:. Usually CD-Roms are D: . SD Cards are often F:. Flash Drives vary. 


  1. Open up the Command Prompt page on Windows. 
    1. For Windows 10, you can try opening up the Start button and searching for CMD. Just hit enter and it should open right up.
    2. For Windows 7 & 8, try putting your mouse in the upper right corner of your screen. When the usual 5 icons appear, click the magnifying glass to open the search page. Type CMD and hit enter.
  1. The screen that opens up will be black with small white letters as in the above image.  
  2. Type the drive name you gathered before (just he letter and the colon ~ C: | D: | E:) and hit enter.
  3. Copy and paste the following attrib –s –h *.* /S /D and hit Enter.
  4. DONE

If this doesn’t work, I’m not sure how to help. But following these three steps has always worked for me so far! 


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