How to Manage Super-Hidden Windows System Files

You are probably familiar with the fact that some files in Windows are given the attribute of “hidden” and do not normally show up in Windows Explorer. You may also know how to make these files visible. (The method for XP is at this link and for Vista/7 is here.) However, there are some system files that are really hidden; they are “super-hidden” and require an additional tweak to make them appear in the Explorer file manager.

Generally, it is a good idea to leave these system files invisible but sometimes an experienced PC user may wish to see these files. One example is when disk space is tight and you wish to see how much space is being used by certain system files like hiberfil.sys. Another example would be if you wish to look at the contents of one of the many desktop.ini files.

List the super-hidden files

It is easy to see a list of super-hidden files with a simple command line operation using the switch ”/as”. For example, to list the super-hidden files on the C: drive, open the command prompt and enter
    dir C:\ /as

Here is another example. To see what is in the Windows folder, enter
    dir %windir% /as

Note that the command as given does not list subdirectories. That would be a very long list but if you really wanted to, you could add the switch “/s”.

Make super-hidden files accessible in Windows Explorer

If you are an experienced PC user and want to make super-hidden files accessible in Explorer, you can find the instructions for Windows XP here. For Windows Vista/7, this is the procedure:

  1. Open "Computer" or any folder
  2. Open the "Organize" drop-down menu
  3. Click "Folder and search options"
  4. Click the "View" tab
  5. Scroll down the “Advanced Settings” list and remove the check by “Hide protected operating system files”
  6. Say “Yes” to the warning message
  7. Click “OK”

It is probably best to make this setting change temporary and to restore the check as soon as you have finished with your file tasks.

The next tip will discuss one of these super-hidden files, hiberfil.sys.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's and tutorials, including  a computer education website and a site for learning about the command line.

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