Extremely hidden folder

I have a very bizarre problem with a hidden folder. I'm running Windows 7 Ultimate x64. Here's what happened: In my web browser, I saved a jpg, and in the save file dialog box I created a new folder C:\windows\Backgrounds and saved the jpg there. When I went to look for the folder in explorer it was nowhere to be found, but if I go back to the save file dialog box in my web browser I can see the folder there (with a lock icon on it) and the jpg is inside.

I'm running with all files being shown: hidden files, system files, etc, etc. I cannot view this folder C:\windows\backgrounds in explorer, command prompt, or PS. Only the web browser can see it! I'm running all this as a user in the administrators group. Running PS as Administrator does not allow me to see the folder either. Even stranger, if I run my web browser as Administrator then I CANNOT see the folder, I can only see it running as my normal user account (which is in the admin group)!

It gets even stranger: When I look up permissions on the folder in the browser's save file dialog box, it shows my user account as the owner. When I go to permissions, it shows full permissions for my account, Administrators, and SYSTEM. When I go to Edit the permissions, it says "Unable to display current owner." and when I try to take ownership it says "The system cannot find the file specified". (Keep in mind, in the other tab it clearly says I'm the owner already). As icing on the cake, I tried disabling UAC and then I could not see the folder under any circumstances, even through the web browser running default permissions (which is the only way I can currently see it).

I know that's a lot to digest. I'm completely stumped. To recap: The folder C:\windows\Backgrounds is ONLY visible through my web browser running as non-admin with UAC running. The folder has a lock icon on it and permissions look OK. I cannot view the folder any other way.

Just realized: It seems I can view this folder with any 32bit application, but no 64bit applications. Also, 32bit programs still cannot view it if run as Administrator or with UAC off. Still have no idea what's happening.


Noob Whisperer
If you click start then run and type %windir%\Backgrounds what happens


Essential Member
Trouble - "Windows cannot find folder"

Mitchell_A - I really do appreciate the advice and hate to ignore it, but I am concerned about side effects that might happen from changing ownership of my entire windows folder. As described above, I was unable to take ownership of the subdir, but as this is a production machine I'm too hesitant at this point to make such a sweeping change. It's unfortunate though, because I think that would be an excellent test.


Noob Whisperer
I don't want to be the fly in anyones ointment here, but taking ownership of the Windows folder away from "TrustedInstaller" could result in some unexpected consequences.


Essential Member
Very well then, though I have taken ownership of my entire drive before with no consequences.


Noob Whisperer
Just thought I would throw in a note of caution. The original poster seems to be having a problem with a file that she may be seeing only as a result perhaps of a phatom in her browser's cache. That's why I was asking what happens when she types %windir%\Backgrounds, was wondering if she gets any kinda error or access denied type message. Didn't say it wouldn't work although I personally have never found it necessary to take ownership of the drive that was hosting my operating system. I've certainly done it to other drives storing data only. Just my $0.02


Noob Whisperer
That's an idea I hadn't thought of, and may provide some insight to her issue and certainly wouldn't hurt. Good thinking and some rep for you.

It's not a cache issue. I've done a couple reboots and 32bit programs other than the web browser can see the folder. Tried running SFC, but no luck

PS C:\Windows\system32> sfc /verifyfile=C:\windows\backgrounds\christmas.jpg
Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation.

Have to run the console as Administrator to use SFC and, as noted earlier, running as Administrator makes it even more difficult to see.

Here's a non-admin prompt to further illustrate the issue:
PS C:\> ls C:\windows\backgrounds
Get-ChildItem : Cannot find path 'C:\windows\backgrounds' because it does not exist.
At line:1 char:3
+ ls <<<< C:\windows\backgrounds
+ CategoryInfo : ObjectNotFound: (C:\windows\backgrounds:String) [Get-ChildItem], ItemNotFoundException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : PathNotFound,Microsoft.PowerShell.Commands.GetChildItemCommand

PS C:\> D:\utils\md5\md5 C:\windows\backgrounds\christmas.jpg
8741A576EDC94D46DA170474E3486B69 C:\windows\backgrounds\christmas.jpg

(note that md5.exe is a 32bit program).
(Trying the same thing running PS as Administrator, the md5 program can't find the file either)


Essential Member
Why don't we just save the jpeg to a different location?
Users files belong in the "Users" folder, not Windows folder.

Thanks for the rep!
I can't imagine why these folders aren't accessible by you or photoshop.
you say you have your computer setup to show hidden files and folders, correct?
Do you also have it set-up to show Protected Operating System Files?


Noob Whisperer
You said it has a padlock
A padlock. This means that you have a private item in a non-private directory.
A private item is an item where the only user account with access is you.¹ You create one of these, for example, by going to the sharing wizard and saying Share with: Nobody. To avoid clutter, the overlay is shown only when there is a transition from non-private to private.
Source: http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2009/12/09/9934348.aspx
If this is something you may have done, is it possible, through your browser, of perhaps one of the other 32bit apps to reverse it?


Essential Member
Download SurF File Manager

It will get you into all thise hiden folders.

Heh, I was waiting for someone to say that. I'm much more concerned with understanding what's going on than actually saving the files there. Besides, the files on my computer belong wherever I want them.

Folder options are correct. I'm looking at it right now and I have:
Show hidden files, folders, and drives
NO Hide empty drives in the computer folder
NO Hide extensions for known file types
NO Hide Protected operating system files

Again, there is a lock icon on this folder (when viewed in save file dialog) but there are no Deny permissions anywhere to be found.


Essential Member
Can you try overwriting the background folder with a new one (creating a new folder named "backgrounds" in your Windows directory?
Or do you get a permission error


The above pic was taken before trying to overwrite the folder.

Overwriting the folder in explorer was very interesting... It worked with no error messages. Going into the folder, it's empty..... Now if I view it through my web browser, the folder is there without the lock icon and the file inside it is visible with a lock icon on it! Surely I could overwrite the jpg in the same way and have everything back to normal, but I still want to understand wtf is going on!


Essential Member
So overwriting the folder has fixed the invisible part of the issue?

Correct. The folder is no longer invisible now, only the file inside it (saved with the web browser) is now invisible. The permissions on it now are different (Access rules have been added for CREATOR OWNER, Users, and TrustedInstaller now that it was recreated with explorer).

By the way, explorer did not give me so much as a "are you sure you want to overwrite" the folder when I recreated the folder in explorer. It overwrite it (without damaging its contents) as if it never existed to begin with.

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