By default, some system files are hidden by the operating system to prevent you from making undesirable changes, but they usually don’t take up much space. However, if you suspect a disk on your laptop is consuming much more space than it should, then they most likely contain hidden files and folders.
Unhiding them is pretty simple, you just disable the Hide option. However, if you don’t know where the hidden folders are located, you can specifically list only the hidden items along with their exact location by running PowerShell commands.
Using the Folder View Options
You can reveal any hidden folder on Windows by configuring the Folder view options. After doing so, you can easily identify them as such folders appear faded, unlike regular folders. If the targeted hidden folder is deep-nested on your laptop drives, a better option would be to search for them using PowerShell. More on this later.
Nonetheless, if you already have an idea of where the hidden folders might be located, you can unhide them using this method and find them.
On Windows 10
- Press Windows + E to open File Explorer.
- Click the View menu at the top.
- To quickly enable viewing hidden folders, check the Hidden items checkbox.
- For more Unhide options, select Options.
- Then, under the View tab, scroll down to Hidden files and folders and choose the Show hidden files, folders, and drives option.
- Additionally, uncheck the Hide protected operating system files option below to unhide the hidden system files.
- Click Apply and OK.
On Windows 11
- Press Windows key + E to open File Explorer.
- To quickly make hidden items visible, click View at the top bar and select Show > Hidden items.
- For more options, click the three dots icon next to View and select Options.
- Then, select the View tab and choose the Show hidden files, folders, and drives option under Hidden files and folders.
As long as you have enabled the above options, the hidden folder will be visible but will disappear again if disabled. To remove them from the hidden folder list,
- Right-click the hidden folder and select Properties.
- Under the General tab, uncheck the Hidden checkbox.
- Click Apply and OK to save changes.
PowerShell is a great tool to find your hidden folders. Along with running various commands on it, you can specify several parameters to adjust your search for hidden folders list. You can even narrow down the search by explicitly mentioning the folder path in the command.
This method is particularly useful when you have multiple directories and sub-directories which further contain numerous folders.
- Press Windows + R, type
powershell, and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open PowerShell as administrator.
- Then, use one or all of the following parameters to view hidden folders.
Get-Childitem -Path D:\Directory -Force -Recurse -Depth 2
- Get-Childitem: Displays all the items in a folder/directory
- Path: Input the path (like the D:\Directory path above) of the hidden folder/directory
- Force: Displays all the hidden files and folders
- Recurse: Searches across all the directories, sub-directories, and folders of a given path
- Depth: Helps to limit the search on how deep you want to search across the directory
- Once you find the hidden folder you were looking for, navigate to the folder and unhide it as mentioned in the above File explorer method.
Using Third-Party Applications
You can also use various third-party applications that provide you with a graphical interface. Such programs can scan your entire laptop and display the entire list of hidden folders along with their locations.
Similarly, various search tools can find such folders even if you have enabled the hide option. However, if the files inside them are hidden, you might need to disable the hide option before you can view them while using the search tool.