3 Best Ways to Find Hidden Files and Folders in Windows 10

hidden files and folders in windows 10

In this article, I will teach you. 3 best ways to find hidden files and folders in Windows 10. When you open a folder in Windows 10 File Explorer, you expect to see full content – all files, all subfolders. That’s not significantly true, but. If the folder you’re looking at contains hidden files and folders, Windows won’t show them unless you have enabled hidden file views in File Explorer.

If you want to know how to find hidden folders in Windows 10 and any hidden files contained within, you will need to use some of the methods we have listed below. This includes using confidential search tools in File Explorer and Windows PowerShell to retrieve them, as well as using third-party methods such as FreeCommander.

Method 1. Find Hidden Files and Folders in Windows 10 Using File Explorer

If you are trying to search for a lost file or folder, the best way to do this is to use the File Explorer search tool. Using advanced search parameters, you can find any files or folders that have been hidden by view (either automatically or manually) using an open File Explorer Windows.

Step 1. To do this, open a new File Explorer Window using the taskbar (if the File Explorer icon is pinned) or via the Start menu. To open a new Window, Just click on the Start menu and select File Explorer to open a new window.

hidden files and folders in windows 10

Step 2. In the new File Explorer Window, open the folder (or drive) you want to search for. Using the search bar at the top right, type attributes:H and select enter key to start the search. This searches for all the files and folders in that folder with the hidden file attribute applied in the Properties menu.

hidden files and folders

Step 3. If you want to customize the search further, you can add a file or folder name (or a limited name) to the search. To do this, type the file or folder name before or after the attributes:H parameter in the search bar (e.g. file attributes:H). If you want to search for a partial match, you can use the wildcard (e.g. fil* attributes:H) to do so.

find hidden files and folders in windows 10

Step 4. When you have found a file or folder, you can restore it to its saved location by right-clicking the file or folder and selecting Open file location from the popup menu.

show hidden files and foldes in windows 10

Method 2. Search Hidden Files and Folders Using Powershell

While the File Explorer above method provides an easy way to find hidden files and folders in Windows 10, it is not fast. If you want to quickly search your PC for any files you missed, another good thing is to use Windows PowerShell to do so.

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You can also use the new Windows Terminal, but PowerShell remains the default option for Windows 10 users. The commands below apply to PowerShell and will not work with the older Command-Line.

Step 1. To get started, open the PowerShell Window by right-clicking the on the start menu and select Windows PowerShell (Admin).

hidden files and subfolders

Step 2. In the new PowerShell Window, navigate to the folder or drive you to wish to search. For example, typing cd C:\ will move you to the root (first) folder on the main system drive, allowing you to search the entire drive.

Step 3. Typing cd C:\Program Files means that the search you perform will only apply to any of the files and subfolders contained in the Program Files folder. Once you have moved the folders, type ls -Force to view a list of files and folders contained within (including any hidden files and folders in Windows 10).

show hidden files and folders

Step 4. When you have moved into the folder to start your search, you can type the following command in the PowerShell window and press the Enter key to do it: Get-ChildItem -Filter . -Recurse -Force -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue | where { $_.Attributes -match “Hidden”}.

This will search for all hidden files and sub-folders in your current folder and list them in the PowerShell Window.

hidden files

Step 5. If you’d like to list a folder directory to start a search, add -Path location to your command after Get-ChildItem, instead of a location with the appropriate file path.

Step 6. For example, Get-ChildItem -Path C:\Folder -Filter . -Recurse -Force -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue | where { $_.Attributes -match “Hidden”} will search all hidden files and folders in the C:\Folder directory. If the file system contains spaces or other special characters, you will need to include them in quotation marks (eg. Get-ChildItem -Path “C:\New Folder” etc).

Windows Powershell

Step 7. If PowerShell detects a large number of hidden files and folders in Windows 10, the final result of PowerShell will scroll through the entries quickly, making it difficult to define. To make this easier, you can save the output of the Get-ChildItem command to a text file, allowing you to search and review at your leisure.

Step 8. To perform this, you can add > log.txt to the end of your command (eg. Get-ChildItem -Path “C:\New Folder” -Filter . -Recurse -Force -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue | where { $_.Attributes -match “Hidden”} > log.txt). This will create a file named log.txt in your currently active folder containing the final result of the Get-ChildItem command.

Step 9. You can set another file path (eg > C:\Folder\log.txt) or filename (eg hiddenlog.txt) as needed.

search hidden files and folders in windows 10

Step 10. Once you have created the log file, you can view the content in the PowerShell Window directly by typing the cat log.txt (replacing log.txt instead of the appropriate file path and file name). You can also open the file, as usual, using File Explorer and Notepad.

find hidden files and folder using powershell

Method 3. Recover Hidden Files and Folders Using Third-Party Software

The best way to find hidden files and folders in Windows 10 is to use File Explorer or Windows PowerShell as described above. If these methods are slow or do not provide the complex search terms you need, you can use third-party applications to search your PC for hidden files as an option.

While various tools support this, one good option is to use the freeware FreeCommander tool. This File Explorer replacement includes a great search tool that allows you to find hidden files and folders on your PC/Laptop.

Step 1. To get started, download and install FreeCommander on your PC/Laptop and launch it once the installation is complete. To start a search in the FreeCommander window, select Ctrl + F on your keyboard or select File> Search to open a new search window.

freecommander tool

Step 2. In the Search files/folders window, enter the file names or folders search box in the file name box, located in the Location tab You can use full file names or find partial similarities using the wildcard (e.g. file or fil*).

Step 3. In the Search In the box below it, select a folder to start a search. You can type this manually (eg C:\ to search the entire drive) or select the add button> Browse to identify them individually.

show file and folders in windows 10

Step 3. You can select the Timestamp/Size/Attr tab next and make sure to select the Hidden attribute checkbox to make the tick visible. Leave all other checkboxes with a solid black check (to ensure they are included) or double-click to uncheck them and remove any files that contain those attributes from your search.

freecommander search hidden files and folders in windows 10

Step 4. Select any other search method you need in all available search tabs. When you are ready to start your search, select Find to get started.

find search hidden files

Step 5. Search results will appear in the search results tab at the bottom of the search window. To open any hidden files and folders in Windows 10 found by FreeCommander locates, you can right-click the entries and select Open.

show hidden files in windows 10


Knowing how to find hidden files and folders in Windows 10 is simple -if you know where to look. Whether you use File Explorer, Windows PowerShell, or third-party applications such as FileCommander to get the job done, the above steps should help you find your previously hidden files and folders in Windows 10.

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