Hidden File

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What Does Hidden File Mean?

A hidden file is a file which has the hidden attribute turned on so that it is not visible to users when exploring or listing files. Hidden files are used for storage of user preferences or for preservation of the state of utilities. They are created frequently by various system or application utilities. Hidden files are helpful in preventing accidental deletion of important data.

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Techopedia Explains Hidden File

Most operating systems provide ways to hide files and file directories. However, in most operating systems, file management utilities allow users to explore hidden files. Software applications are also available for hiding and unhiding files and file directories.

In the case of Apple computers, the files are hidden with the help of the ResEdit utility. In the case of Microsoft operating systems, hidden files appear as faint icons or ghost icons. In most operating systems, one can hide files by turning on the special hidden attribute.

There are few reasons for applications and operating systems supporting the hidden file concept. One of the main reasons is to reduce the probability of users accidentally deleting, modifying or corrupting critical configuration or system files. It also prevents casual snoopers from accessing files which are important for the user or the network. Another reason is that hiding files and objects helps in reduction of visual clutter in the file directories and helps users in easy and convenient locating of files and directories.

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.