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

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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 straightforward. 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!

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.

Method 1 (This PC):

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

  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. The 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. 1. Open Terminal found in Finder > Applications > UtilitiesHow To View Hidden Files On A USB Or External Hard Drive In Mac:
  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 device’s OS. If you inadvertently delete or change these particular folders, it could crash your PC or Max and make it unusable. Many apps 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.

Show Hidden Folder or Files In the Windows Command Line

If you don’t have any luck finding the hidden files with the help of the methods mentioned earlier, there’s an alternate method. You can show any hidden file or folder with the help of the attrib command in the windows command line. To do this, follow the instructions below: 

  1. Go to the windows command prompt
  2. Type “attrib” without inverted commas
  3. Hit Enter

Windows will return some results like: 

A   H   I            C:\Users\Nexgen\NTUSER.DAT

A  SH                C:\Users\Nexgen\ntuser.dat.LOG1

A  SH                C:\Users\Nexgen\ntuser.dat.LOG2

All the hidden files on your windows will have an “H” file attribute next to them. For instance, the file NTUSER.DAT is a hidden file in the example above. In order to delete a hidden file, you will have to unhide it first. To do this, type in the following command

attrib -h NTUSER.DAT

Once you unhide the file this way, you can then view the file using the dir command and delete it with the help of the del command. 

Note: This method is valid for all versions of windows

Method 2: View Hidden Files on Mac’s Library Folder

There’s another method to view hidden items on macOS. And that is via Mac’s Library folder. Here’s how you can do so easily:

First of all, you have to click on the desktop Mac or open the Finder app. After that, click on the “Go” option on the menu bar, then select the “Go To Folder” option. In case you don’t want to go through all this hassle and just skip straight to the Library, just press Ctrl + Shift + G on your keypad. This command will take you to the “Go To Folder” menu, where you can simply insert ~/Library as your navigation path to access the Library folder. 

The Library folder contains all the important data and files for user accounts. It also contains all the app data Mac needs for proper function. Therefore, you should be careful while accessing the library folder. Any changes here will reflect how your operating system behaves. Also, keep in mind the system-level Library folder is different from the user-level library folder. Both will have a different navigational path. 

There’s another method to view your Mac’s library folder: 

  1. In Finder, choose the Go menu and then hold down the Option key
  2. Now select the Library option from the drop-down menu. 

OR

  • Simply press and hold down the Shift + Command () + Period ( . ) key.

Pro Tip: If you feel a little overwhelmed by the number of files that become visible afterward, there’s a simple way to find your requisite file. All you need to do is to use the Spotlight feature on Mac. You can call the Spotlight window (it will have a magnifying glass-like icon) from the menu bar on the right-hand side of the screen. You can also use the Command + Space keys to open the Spotlight feature and then enter your query. 

How to Find Hidden Files on Android

Android mobile phones allow users to hide their files and apps in different locations. By doing so, you can protect your privacy and prevent others from viewing your private info. However, if you want to display these files, follow the instructions below: 

Method 1: By using the Default File Manager

  1. Go to your File Manager
  2. Click on the Menu option and then go to Settings
  3. Scroll down to the “Advanced” section and check the “Show hidden Files” box. 

Method 2: By Using the Library

  1. Go to your phone’s gallery app
  2. Tap on the Gallery Menu
  3. Go to Settings
  4. Now Click on the “View Hidden Albums” option. 

This will reveal all the hidden photos in your gallery. 

Method 3: By Using any Android Hidden File reveal software

If none of the methods above work, then it may be a virus relocated your hidden files. You have to use professional hidden file reveal software to get your files back in that scenario. There are many such professional apps in the Google Appstore, such as Show Hidden Files Explorer, Reveal Hidden Media, Hidden Images Finder, etc. You can use any of them to retrieve your hidden files. 

Note: All of the above-mentioned methods may work differently depending on your Android version. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

How can I view the Hidden files on an SDCard on Mac operating system?

Whenever you connect any other data storage device or an SD card to your Mac, it appears in Finder within the Locations option. So, if you go to that place and press the shift, command, and period keys simultaneously, you can see all the hidden files. You can use this method to show hidden files, folders and drives, etc., on any external storage. 

How can I delete hidden files on Mac? 

Mac OS hides some files and folders to protect them from deletion as these files are crucial for the proper function. Deleting these files can be harmful to the entire operating system. However, some of these hidden files can be leftover junk from other apps, taking up your Mac’s storage. So, you can delete them without any problem. 

We suggest using specialized software to delete all the junk files without harming the OS. MacKeeper is one software that you can use for this purpose. It is easy to use and operate. Plus, its cleaning features let you easily remove all the useless files in no time – even if they are hidden in a deep corner of the system. 

Where are hidden files located? 

Usually, operating systems like Android, Windows, Linux, and macOS have default locations for hidden files. Some even split them up into categories like images, downloads, etc. Therefore, you can find all of them in one place. However, it isn’t always so. Sometimes, some of the hidden files may get relocated for one reason or another. So, you may or may not find all of the hidden files in a single location. 

Key Takeaways

This article went overall 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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