I often use Windows XP search to find a file that is somewhere on my
computer. The search query will give the path of the specific file, but then if
I go into Windows Explorer and try to find the path myself, I can only find
part of the path, and then a dead end. Why is this?
Windows is trying to be helpful, of course! It’s “protecting” you from
seeing things that it thinks might confuse you or somehow it thinks just
“shouldn’t be seen”.
Of course in helping to avoid confusion it just confuses more. I know I
don’t want Windows to “help” me like this, so there are a couple of options I
turn off every time I configure a new machine.
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The issue here is what are called “hidden” files. There’s a simple setting
for each and every file or folder on your system that you can set that says
“hide this from everyday view”:
By default hidden files are not displayed in Windows Explorer.
That’s what I change.
Fire up Windows Explorer, and then:
Click on the Tools menu
Click on the Folder Options… menu item
Click on the View tab
In the Advanced Settings list, scroll down until you see
both Hidden files and folders, and Hide protected
operating system files.
You should be looking at something like this:
Make sure that Show hidden files and folders is selected. I
also uncheck Hide protected operating system files –
for much the same reason: I just don’t want Windows hiding files from me.
Now as you navigate to the path that the search results gave you I think
you’ll find that a few more files and folders are visible along the way.