ARCHIVED: In Windows, what are file attributes, and how can I change them?

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File attributes can be used to write-protect, hide, and unhide files, or in behind-the-scenes file maintenance:

  • Read-only: Readable, but cannot be changed or deleted
  • Hidden: By default, not displayed in a directory listing
  • Archive: Used for selectively backing up or copying files; most helpful in DOS
  • System: Flagged for use by the operating system; not usually displayed in a directory listing

Changing file attributes

View or change file attributes

To view or change the attributes of a file, right-click the file, and then click Properties. In the "Attributes:" section, enabled attributes have checks beside them. Add or remove the checks from Read-only, Archive, or Hidden to enable or disable these options. If you want to change the System attribute, you need to do it from the command prompt.

Note: In Windows 7, Vista, or XP, you will see only the Read-only and Hidden checkboxes on the first screen. To see the Archive checkbox, click Advanced.

Change file attributes from the command prompt

To determine what attributes are enabled on a file, you must use the attrib command in the command prompt. In the directory where the file is located, enter:

  attrib filename.ext

Replace filename.ext with the full name of the file.

You should see something like:


The initials on the left stand for the first letter of the enabled attribute: A for Archive, S for System, H for Hidden, and R for Read-only.

To clear an attribute with attrib, use - (the minus sign), for example:

  attrib -s -h -r filename.ext

Using the minus signs after attrib in the above example clears the System, Hidden, and Read-only attributes from the file. To add an attribute, use + (the plus sign), as follows:

  attrib +h filename.ext

Using the plus sign in this example adds the Hidden attribute to the file.

This is document aift in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 12:41:12.