View Vista's Hidden Files and Folders

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By default, Windows "hides" various files and folders that are essential to system operation and data integrity. Why the Big Brother tactic? To protect you from yourself: moving or deleting any of these items could have unwelcome consequences.

Of course, power users sometimes need access to hidden files and folders, like I did the other day when I went searching for an Outlook PST file. In the old XP days, I knew right where to find the setting that would reveal the concealed stuff, but in Vista, the setting for hidden files and folders is hidden itself!

Well, okay, not hidden, just relocated. Here's how to find it:

1. Open the Control Panel.

2. In the Search field, type folder.

3. You'll see a section called Folder Options. Under that, click Show hidden files and folders.

4. Find a tick the option marked Show hidden files and folders.

5. Click OK.

That's all there is to it. A word of caution, though: Leaving this option enabled is not a good idea, even for power users. My recommendation: After you've found the hidden files and/or folders you need, head back to Control Panel and re-enable Do not show hidden files and folders.

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