Longtime subscriber Mike G. wrote to ask about a hidden directory on his computer. One of the cleaner utilities reported temporary files in a directory he could not find:
When using "cleanup software", such as CCleaner, The analysis frequently shows temporary files from the internet at "T:\temp\Temporary Internet Files\IE5….".
However when I open the windows explorer, the furthest I can get is "T:\temp\Temporary Internet Files" and do not see any sub folders. I do have the "show hidden files" checked in the folder viewing options.
So, why do I not see them, and how can I fix things so that I do see them?
I am running Windows 7, 64 bit, sp1.
There are hidden files and there are hidden files. They can be temporary files or non-temporary files, since as far as Windows is concerned, there really is no difference.
One way for files and directories to be hidden is to set their Hidden attribute, which is a property handled by the operating system (not just Windows – other operating systems have similar Hidden attributes – even the early MS-DOS versions had a Hidden attribute for each file).
If the Hidden attribute is set to 1 (or checked, in the Windows versions), then Windows won’t show the file (or directory) in any list of files and directories, such as that in Windows Explorer.
If you want Windows Explorer to show the hidden files (or directories) in its lists, you have to change one of the default settings of Windows. See Showing Hidden Files and Folders at my Terry’s Computer Tips web site.
Once Windows is set to "Show hidden files, folders and drives", the files or directories that have the Hidden attributes set will be displayed, but with a faded icon (so you know that it really was Hidden. Note the difference in the appearance of the hidden test folder versus the non-hidden test2 folder.
Apparently your program is reporting that there are additional hidden folders that are not showing up in Windows Explorer, even though you have set the Show Hidden Files, Folders and Drives option.
That can happen in another way.
I suspect that you are using Microsoft Outlook for your email. If you’re using a Microsoft Exchange email server, Outlook will open attachments in a hidden directory under the Temporary Internet Files sub-directory. You can only see the hidden directory from within Outlook — my right-clicking on the attachment and selecting Save As. This should show you the hidden directory as the default saving location.
Note that if you’ve already saved a file in the session of Outlook that is open, Outlook will default to the directory where that file was saved. So, if you’ve already saved an attachment in a desired location, in order to see the hidden directory, close Outlook. Then open Outlook again, right-click on the attachment and select Save As.
While I use Thunderbird as my normal email program, at the office I use Outlook with Microsoft Exchange — so I’ve run in those left-over temporary files several times.