How to Find Windows System 32 Files

By Maya Austen

The Windows System32 folder contains files that are critical to the functioning of your Windows operating system. For added protection, some of the system files in your Windows System32 folder are hidden. In order to view all of the subfolders and files in your Windows System32 folder you have to configure your folder options to show hidden files and folders. Once your folder options are configured simply navigate to the System32 folder (located inside the Windows folder on your computer's hard drive) and find the System32 file you want.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows XP, Vista or 7

Find Windows System32 Files in Windows XP

Step 1

Launch Windows Explorer. Click the "Start" button, go to "Programs" or "All Programs," select "Accessories," then click on "Windows Explorer." Alternatively, open "My Computer," copy and paste either of the following file addresses in the My Computer address bar: %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe or C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe. Then hit "Enter" on your keyboard.

Step 2

Open the Windows Explorer "Tools" menu and select "Folder Options." Click on the "View" tab. Select the radio button next to the option to "Show hidden files and folders." Deselect the box next to "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)." Click "Apply," then click "OK" to close the Folder Options dialog box.

Step 3

Navigate to the Windows System32 folder. In the "Folder" pane in Windows Explorer, locate and click on "My Computer," locate and click "Local Disk (C:)," locate and click on the "Windows" folder, locate and click on the "System32" folder. Alternatively, you could also copy and paste the following file address in the Windows Explorer address bar: C:\WINDOWS\system32. All of the subfolders and files in your Windows System32 folder, both regular files and hidden files, will appear in the right-side window pane. Find the one you want.

Find Windows System32 Files in Windows Vista and Windows 7

Step 1

Open the "Start" menu and select "Control Panel."

Step 2

Click on the "Appearance and Personalization" link. Then click "Folder Options." Go to the "View" tab. Deselect the box next to "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)." In Windows Vista, select "Show hidden files and folders." In Windows 7, select "Show hidden files, folders, and drives." Click "OK."

Step 3

Navigate to the Windows System32 folder. Click the "Start" button and select "Computer." In the left-side window pane, locate and click on "Computer." Locate and click on the "(C:)" drive, locate and click on the "Windows" folder, locate and click on the "System32" folder. All of the subfolders and files in your Windows System32 folder, both regular files and hidden files, will be displayed on the right. Find the one you want.