A Step-by-Step Guide on How To View Hidden Files on Your PC, Mac, USB or External Drive

A Step-by-Step Guide on How To View Hidden Files on Your PC, Mac, USB or External Drive

view hidden files

Did you know that you can hide your personal data in the form of files on all operating systems? What about the fact that there could be a huge range of hidden files and folders on your hard drive or USB?

If you want to boost your privacy on your system, there are a few easy methods to hide your files, and once hidden, they can’t be easily accessed by others. This can definitely come in handy down the line.

Add Pattern Lock In Your Android/iPhone/Windows Smartphones

Operating systems come with sensitive hidden files by default to keep things simple, and you can’t access these files unless you unhide them. We might accidentally hide files and folders and later want to see them on our devices again. There are many apps that will let you hide files and folders, but there are built-in OS file-hiding features of different platforms that are relatively unknown.

What we’re going to review in this article are the ways in which you can unhide folders on the Mac, PC, USB, and external hard drives. The methods shouldn’t be too hard, so don’t get scared by the technicality. If you need to view hidden files, you should be able to do so without too much effort on your part.

Hide Sensitive Photos And Videos In Your iPhone/iPad

All operating systems allow you to toggle whether hidden files are displayed or not, and toggling this option is relatively straight-forward. If you’re using Windows, a virus or other malware could be causing your hidden files to not display. Fixing it requires opening the Windows Registry, but should only take a couple of minutes.

So let’s dive into how to check hidden files on Mac, how to show hidden folders on a hard drive, and how to show hidden folders on a USB. This can save your life in a pinch!

A Step-by-Step Guide on How To View Hidden Files on Your PC, Mac, USB or External Drive

How To View Hidden Files On A USB Or External Hard Drive In Windows OS:

There are two ways to view hidden files in Windows OS. It is very simple to view hidden files in Windows OS as compared to other OS platforms. The best part is you don’t need any specific commands or tools to access hidden files.




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Method 1 (This PC):

1. First, click on ‘This PC’.
2. Now click on the ‘Organize’ button in the top left corner. A drop-down menu will appear.
3. From the drop-down, click on ‘Folder And Search Options’.
4. A new window “Folder Options” will open, and in there you should click on the ‘View’ tab.
5. There, in the ‘Advanced settings’ section, click on ‘Show Hidden Files, Folders or Drives’.
6. Then, click on ‘OK’. Now, you can view the hidden files and folders. You can also hide them again through the same process if you wish.

Method 2 (Control Panel):

1. Go to ‘Control Panel.’
2. Click on ‘Appearance and Personalization.’
3. A new window ‘Folder Options’ will open, within that window click on the ‘View’ tab.
4. There, in the ‘Advanced settings’ section, click on ‘Show Hidden Files, Folders or Drives.’
5. Then, click on ‘OK.’ Now, you can view the hidden files and folders. Again, you can hide them again through the same process.

How To View Hidden Files On A USB Or External Hard Drive In Mac:

In Mac OS, you have to take advantage of Terminal to reveal or view hidden files or folders in the device. Terminal is the native command-line tool that comes built into all Mac computers. It enables you to change permissions on files and folders.
1. Open Terminal found in Finder > Applications > Utilities

2. In Terminal, copy and paste the following exactly as written: defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES
3. Press the ‘Return’ key.
4. Hold the ‘Option’ or ‘Alt’ key, then right-click on the Finder icon in the dock and click ‘Relaunch.’
5. Click on your external hard drive under the ‘Devices’ heading in Finder to show all of your hidden files. To hide them again, follow the same steps but replace the Terminal command with this: defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles NO

So, it’s not the longest set of instructions or the biggest command to commit your changes to memory. But, if you’re doing this a lot, it’s worth spending a few minutes learning this now to save yourself a lot of time going forward. If you find any problems or have any queries, please let us know in the comment section below!

Before we leave you today, we’ll go over a few questions about viewing hidden files below.

What Are Hidden Folders?

The Mac operating system has special folders that have information on your devices’ OS. If you inadvertently delete or change these particular folders, it could crash your PC or Max and make it unusable. Many apps are have hidden folders with store settings, and data about the documents that you’re currently using.

In many cases, Mac’s Finder program, and Windows Explorer doesn’t provide you the option of viewing these files.

Is it legal to view hidden files on my system?

The good news is that yes, the methods we’ve described above are perfectly legit practices. In fact, the manufacturers of your system probably included this functionality so that you can get the most out of your experience on it. After all, what PC manufacturers would let hidden files slip through the cracks without a way to get them back?

It’s perfectly legal to try any of the methods, out, although it may seem complicated sometimes. Don’t worry, and we’ll help you if you have any other questions about how to view hidden files on a certain system.


This article went over all you’ll need to know in order to view hidden files on your system. Sure, some methods will seem easier than others, but if you’re persistent enough you can recover almost any hidden file on your PC or Mac.

So, let us know if you have any questions about where to go with a certain method we mentioned. We’d be happy to help you work through it in the comments below, so don’t hesitate to ask! This stuff can get complicated.

In the meantime, thanks for reading and we’ll have a new article on tech news/tips next week for you to read.


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