How to Find Hidden Internet Files & Pictures

by Kevin Lee

Whenever you use the Web, your browser may store information you may not see. Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome maintain a repository that consist of images, files and files the browsers use to construct the pages you see in your browser. You can find and view these hidden Internet files and images if you know where to look.

Your Browser’s Hidden Secrets

When you visit a website that has 30 pictures, your browser must download each one as a separate file. If you allow the browser to cache Internet information, it doesn't have to download those files every time you revisit that Web page. Your browser simply fetches the images and files it needs from your cache and generates the Web page you see. If you disable this automatic caching feature, the browser won't store those files on your hard drive.

Discover Internet Explorer’s Cache

Find your hidden files in Explorer by pressing your "Windows" key and typing "Internet Options" in the search box. Click the "Internet Options" icon when you see it to open the Internet Properties window. Click the "General" tab if it's not already selected, followed by "Settings." Click "View Files" to display the names of IE's cached files; double-click a file if you'd like to see it. You can also type a search term in the window's upper-right corner if you'd like to search for a specific file.

View Chrome’s Cached Files

Google Chrome also stores the files in a Cache folder. However, you will not see file extensions when you view a list of files in that folder. If you type "Chrome:\\cache" – without the quotes -- in Chrome's address bar and press “Enter,” you can view the names of files the browser has cached. Click a file you’d like to view and Chrome opens a new page that displays a binary representation of the file. You won’t be able to read this data, but you can copy the file path at the top of the page, paste it in the address bar and press “Enter” to view the file. If you's still like to find Chrome's Cache folder, launch File Explorer and paste "C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default" into the address bar. Replace USERNAME with your Windows username. Double-click the "Cache" folder and you'll see the names of the files Chrome keeps there.

Find it in Firefox

Firefox doesn't have an Internet Options window, but you can still view your cache files by finding the page that displays them. Type "about:cache" -- without the quotes -- in the browser's address bar and press “Enter.” Click the "List Cache Entries" link in the Disk Cash Device section to view the names of files that reside in Firefox's cache. When you click a file name, a new page opens and displays cryptic binary data that represents the file. However, if you click the file name next to the word “Key” at the top of the page, you can view the file.

Viewing Tips

Your browser's cache will usually consist of several different file types. Some may be JavaScript files that the browser uses to manage your Web page. Others could have file extensions such as .png or .jpg. When you're looking for images, find the ones that have image file extensions. Double-click a file to view it. You may be surprised at the number of interesting images you'll see exploring your cache. You will probably see many GIF or PNG files since many sites use them to create logos that appear on Web pages.

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About the Author

After majoring in physics, Kevin Lee began writing professionally in 1989 when, as a software developer, he also created technical articles for the Johnson Space Center. Today this urban Texas cowboy continues to crank out high-quality software as well as non-technical articles covering a multitude of diverse topics ranging from gaming to current affairs.

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