Understanding and Using File Attributes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 11, 2017)

2

Windows files have several attributes, or properties. These attributes affect how the file can be manipulated. What follows is a list of the available file attributes and what they mean:

  • Read-only: The file cannot be accidentally edited and saved.
  • Hidden: The file cannot be seen in Windows Explorer. (Hidden files are discussed in another tip.)
  • System: The file is a system file and should not be manipulated by the user.
  • File is ready for archiving: This was originally used to indicate that the file is available to be backed up. This attribute is no longer used in the majority of today's backup programs.
  • Allow this file to have contents indexed in addition to file properties: This tells the system that when it indexes the file, it should also index the contents of the file. Indexing the contents of a file allows you to use the Search feature of Windows Explorer to find files that contain the specified text. If the contents are not indexed, the Search feature will only find files by their name.
  • Compress contents to save disk space: This tells the system to compress the file in order to save disk space. A file that is compressed is shown in blue.
  • Encrypt contents to secure data: This causes the file to be encrypted, assuming the system has a properly configured recovery policy.

There are a couple of ways to view and change a file's attributes. One way is through Windows Explorer or File Explorer. By right-clicking on a file and selecting Properties, Windows displays a Properties dialog box for the file. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. A file's Properties window.

In the Properties dialog box you can set the Read-only and Hidden attributes. There are more attributes, though, and these can be seen by clicking the Advanced button to display the Advanced Attributes dialog box. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. A file's Advanced Attributes window.

Again, setting or clearing the checkboxes is how you set or clear the file's attributes.

 This tip (12023) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Selecting a Table

There are several different ways you can select an entire table in Word. The various methods and shortcuts are described ...

Discover More

Inserting and Deleting Rows in a Protected Worksheet

You've protected and saved your worksheet with explicit instructions that you be allowed to insert and delete rows. But ...

Discover More

Changing Defaults for Text Boxes and Callouts

Do you find yourself frequently creating text boxes and callouts? This tip describes how to change the default settings ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Using Robocopy with File Sizes and Ages

Robocopy is a robust file copy utility built into Windows. The various switches built into the program provide very ...

Discover More

Understanding File Paths

Every file on your disk drive has a unique file path that defines its location. Understanding how file paths work can be ...

Discover More

Deleting a Saved Search

Windows Explorer has a good search utility built into it. As you use it, you may wish to delete a previously saved search ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 9 - 6?

2018-05-17 15:40:54

Jared

Do you know if applying this to a network drive will deindex the contents of the files for other users. I'm trying to unindex a network drive to make the search quicker, but I don't want to do it if it makes others not see it, soo.


2018-03-18 23:03:45

Reva

Hi Allen,

I visit your columns here every so often; great posts and tips.

I have a strange problem ??

I use Windows 10 64-bit. I have quite a few mp3 files in my download folder. A lot of them have their "allow this file to have contents indexed in addition to file" box checked; and there are some that do not have this box checked.

When I do a search, I right click on each search result to view the the property details.

On the files which have their "allow..." boxes checked, the property metadata (mp3 tags in this case) details show as you would when you right click in a normal explorer window.

But on those files whose boxes are unchecked, the metadata fields are all blank, as if they have not been filled in. When I revert to Explorer Home and right click, I see the filled-in metadata in the property details.

This brings up the question, how would I do a global search for those files in a given folder with unchecked "allow.." boxes?

Thanks.


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.