Windows is trying to be helpful by protecting you from yourself.
Or perhaps it’s trying not to confuse you with too much data.
Or maybe it’s trying to protect itself from you.
Whatever … Windows is hiding that folder.
You and I, we know what we’re doing, so we’ll tell it to stop.
Hidden files and folders
Windows1 has a “hidden” attribute for files and/or folders. When a file is set to be hidden, many programs simply do not display its existence.
In Window’s defense, there are files and folders that generally shouldn’t be played with, or that may simply cause confusion. I can understand why Windows might elect to hide them by default.
On the other hand, sometimes we really do want to see them, as in this case.
Fortunately, for Windows Explorer at least, there’s a simple setting. And if Windows Explorer isn’t your thing … well, there’s always the Windows Command Prompt.
Viewing hidden files and folders in Windows File Explorer
Here’s a view of “C:\Users\LeoN” on my machine.
You’ll note there’s no AppData folder.
In Windows 7 and prior, click the Tools menu in Windows Explorer (if the menu isn’t visible, press the ALT key and it should appear), and click the Folder options… item.
In Windows 8 and later, click the View menu, the Options button, and then the Change folder and search options item.
In the resulting dialog box, click the View tab.
Change the setting to “Show hidden files, folders and drives”, and click OK.
If we go back to Windows File Explorer, lo and behold, there’s the missing folder.
If you look closely, you can see that the folder icon for the AppData folder is slightly lighter than the others. That indicates that the folder is marked as hidden.
For the record, I always have “Show hidden files, folder and drives” set. I don’t feel I need Windows’ help to protect me from seeing files and folders on my machine.
The bottom line: now that you can see the AppData folder, you’ll be able to copy your Outlook.pst file into the “Local\Microsoft\Outlook” folder you should find within.
Viewing hidden files and folders in the Command Prompt
In Windows Command Prompt, use the “Dir” command to see the files in the current folder (also referred to as a directory).
Here’s the results of a “DIR” while in C:\Users\LeoN:
Once again, no AppData folder.
There is no simple setting to always make the Command Prompt show hidden files. Instead, we add an option to the DIR command to tell it to display only the hidden files: dir /A:H.
Now, the AppData folder displays at the top of the list.
By default, the Command Prompt will display all hidden files, including system files and so-called “protected operating system files” – hence, the “<JUNCTION>” items and “NTUSER.DAT”, the file containing the user-specific registry.
The result is the same as before: now that you can see the AppData folder if you’re command-line savvy, you can use command line tools to copy the file to the destination you need.