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HOW TO: Search For Hidden Or System Files In Windows XP

Support for Windows XP has ended

Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

This article was previously published under Q302347
The Search companion in Windows XP searches for hidden and system files differently than in earlier versions of Windows. This article describes how to search for hidden or system files in Windows XP.

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Search for Hidden or System Files

By default, the Search companion does not search for hidden or system files. Because of this, you may be unable to find files, even though they exist on the drive.

To search for hidden or system files in Windows XP:
  1. Click Start, click Search, click All files and folders, and then click More advanced options.
  2. Click to select the Search system folders and Search hidden files and folders check boxes.
NOTE: You do not need to configure your computer to show hidden files in the Folder Options dialog box in Windows Explorer to find files with either the hidden or system attributes, but you need to configure your computer not to hide protected operating system files to find files with both the hidden and system attributes. Search Companion shares the Hide protected operating system files option (which hides files with both the system and hidden attributes) with the Folder Options dialog box Windows Explorer.

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Article ID: 302347 - Last Review: 10/27/2002 14:37:00 - Revision: 1.1

  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • kbhowto kbhowtomaster KB302347
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