By Delia / Last update December 27, 2021

The default setting in Windows 11 is to not show file extensions and hidden files unless you upgrade from Windows 10 and are able to keep the previous settings. For those who want to do it manually, the disappearance of the ribbon in Windows 11 also makes switching between file extensions and hidden files not as easy as it was in Windows 10. So, is it necessary to show them or not, and how should you do it?

windows 11

Benefits of showing extensions and hidden files

If you have a configuration file and an executable file with the same filename, you may not know which file to click to launch the application. In this case, you can easily distinguish them by looking at the extension.

Also, some configuration files may be hidden by default, so if you need to edit it, you have to make it show up in the folder first.

This setting is also important as an anti-malware measure. For example, some malware may have a disguised extension that does not look like an executable file when the extension is hidden, such as Such malware may have consequences you cannot afford if it is executed inadvertently. By displaying the extension, you may be able to spot such tricks and thus reduce the risk of running malware.

Turn the display on and off in File Explorer

Launch Windows 11 File Explorer, go to the “Layout and view options” (displayed as three horizontal lines), select “Show” to expand the menu, then you can select “File name extensions” and “Hidden items” as you need.

This will make the hidden files and extensions visible. If you select the same item again, it will be unchecked and hidden.

show extensions and hidden files

The Folder Options dialog also allows you to turn on and off the display of extensions and hidden files. You can click the “…” icon to open it.

Once you have launched the Options box, switch to View tab. Then you can find related options under the "Advanced settings" - "Files and Folders" menu. To show hidden files just select “Hidden files and folders” - “Show hidden files, folders, and drives”; To display extensions, just uncheck “Hidden extensions for known file types”.

advanced settings show extensions and hidden files


In Windows 10, you can easily toggle on and off extensions/hidden files in the ribbon, but the approaches are different in Windows 11. Try the above method to set them up as you like.