How to make hidden files and folders visible

Some files and folders are hidden by default. For example, this is true for the Microsoft Word STARTUP folder and it may also be true for the folder in which the Word template Normal.dotm is stored.

If you are going to install a Word add-in manually, you need to find the Word STARTUP folder. In order to do that, the folder must be visible. This article explains how you can make hidden files and folders visible.

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Follow the steps below to make hidden files and folders visible

Windows 10 – fastest method

  1. Open a File Explorer window.
  2. Select the View tab in the Ribbon and turn on the options File name extensions and Hidden items.
Windows 10 – show hidden files and folders and file name extensions via the View tab in the Ribbon

Windows 10 – show hidden files and folders and file name extensions via the View tab in the Ribbon.

Now the files and folders that were previously hidden should be visible.

When File name extensions is turned on, you will see files names as e.g. MyAddIn.dotm instead of just MyAddIn or you will see MyDocument.docx instead of just MyDocument. It is helpful to see the file extension since it provides information about the specific type of file.

You can also set the options for hidden files and folders via the alternative method below, using the Folder Options dialog box.

Windows 10 and older Windows versions

  1. Open a File Explorer window (Windows Explorer in earlier versions than Windows 10).
  2. Follow the relevant bullet below to open the Folder Options dialog box:
  • Windows 10: Select File > Change folder and search options.
  • Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8: Click Organizer in the top-left corner of the window. Select Folder and Search Options.
  • Windows XP: Select Tools > Folder Options.
  1. In the Folder Options dialog box, select the View tab.
  2. On the View tab:
    Turn on Show hidden files and folders.
    Turn off Hide extensions for known file types.
  3. Click OK.

When Hide extensions for known file types is turned off, you will see files names as e.g. MyAddIn.dotm instead of just MyAddIn or you will see MyDocument.docx instead of just MyDocument. It is helpful to see the file extension since it provides information about the specific type of file.

Show hidden files and folders - settings to change

Folder Options settings. Note that the options are sorted alphabetically. If you are not using an English system, the options will be named and thus sorted differently.

Now the files and folders that were previously hidden should be visible.