Windows 11 handles hidden files and folders almost identically to versions of Windows that came before it: with special file flags. Showing these hidden files in File Explorer is easy. Here’s how.

First, launch File Explorer by opening Start and searching for “File Explorer,” or by clicking the File Explorer icon in your taskbar if it’s pinned there.

When File Explorer opens, click the ellipses (three dots) button in the toolbar near the top of the window. In the menu that appears, select “Options.”

In the Windows 11 File Explorer, click the ellipses (three dots) button and select "Options."

In the “Folder Options” window that opens, click the “View” tab.

In Folder Options, click the "View" tab.

In the “Advanced Settings” list, locate the “Hidden Files and Folders” option. Using the radio buttons, select “Show hidden files, folders, and drives.” Then click “OK” at the bottom of the window.

Select "Show hidden files, folders, and drives" and click "OK."

Hidden files and folders will instantly become visible in File Explorer and on your desktop. When you see them, their icons will have a slightly translucent or faded appearance.

If you now open your Local Disk (C:) you will see for example the ProgramData folder, a folder that is normally hidden.

You can recognize hidden files and folders by their icon. The icons have slight transparency compared to normal files and folders in Windows 11.

show hidden folders windows 11

If you want to hide them again later, use “Options” in File Explorer to open Folder Options again, click “View,” select “Don’t show hidden files, folders, or drives,” and click “OK.”