How to Hide a Windows Folder

Folder hiding is a simple way of keeping prying eyes away from your private documents.

From a human point of view it's a good solution; what you can't see, you don't know you want.

Encrypting a folder can have the opposite effect. The folder is visible and if access is attempted, the need to enter a password positively shouts the message that someone is trying to hide something.

This probably explains why there are so many commercial utilities that claim they can securely hide folders.

I use the word "claim" deliberately. It's actually quite difficult to securely hide a folder in Windows without risking creating problems in the operating system itself.

And there can be all sorts of practical problems. For example, what happens to the hidden folder when you delete a visible folder above it in the folder tree? Will the hidden folder be backed up? Will it be scanned by your AV program? Can the files in the folder be recovered in an emergency such as a system crash?

These are not theoretical problems; they are real and need to be seriously considered.

I've used a number of commercial folder hiding programs over the years and have ended up un-installing them all. They were simply not worth the trouble.

Instead of using complicated and expensive security utilities, I suggest you stealth your folders using a far simpler method using the Windows "hidden" attribute. And once you have hidden your folders you can then protect them using free open source encryption programs.

The Windows hidden attribute works similarly to the more familiar "read only" attribute. It's a property of every file and folder that can be turned on or off. Let's try it.

Create a folder in My Documents and call it "test." Now copy a couple of unimportant files to the folder.

To turn on the hidden attribute right click on the folder icon, select Properties, then the General Tab and check the Hidden box.

The folder should disappear from My Documents. If it doesn't then you have Windows Explorer configured to display hidden files.

To change this, select Tools / Folder options / View then check the "Do not show hidden files and folders" box. Now the test folder should disappear. To make it re-appear select the "Show hidden files and folders" option.

So now you have a way of hiding a folder and revealing it again using your folder settings. Now I'll show you a simple trick that allows you access your hidden folder without constantly changing the folder settings. However, before I can demonstrate this we have to make the folder hidden but the files within it not-hidden.

Go to My Documents and make sure your folder "test" is visible. Open "test" and select all the files by using Control A. Now right click anywhere on the selected files and select Properties / General and uncheck the Hidden attribute. Now your folder is hidden but the files are not.

Go back to My Documents and hide the folder by changing the folder settings. Your test folder should disappear from My Documents.

Now here's the trick. Windows allows you to navigate to a hidden folder. So while in the My Documents folder, type into the address bar "\test" immediately after "My Documents" with no spaces between and hit enter.

Voila you are now in your secret "test" folder and all your documents are visible!

Of course locating your private folder in My Documents is not a great idea as it will be immediately revealed should another user enable the display of hidden files. Better to stash your folder in some obscure location well away from prying eyes but easy to navigate to. Additionally, name the folder to be as uninteresting as possible.

Hiding your folder like this is fine if you only want to keep information from prying eyes but if you really want to properly protect your hidden folder you should encrypt it.

Luckily that's easy; simply use the free open source program AxCrypt:
http://axcrypt.axantum.com/

Using AxCrypt is dead simple so I won't explain how. AxCrypt is also near-unbreakable so make sure you don't forget your password. If you do, your data is lost forever.

Using this technique you can hide and protect your folders without spending a cent and, unlike commercial folder hiding utilities, this technique is not going to potentially create a whole set of other problems.

Gizmo

 

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Comments

by Fathima on 24. February 2014 - 5:12  (114619)

my friend had a folder full of hidden stuff on his laptop. he had to go overseas for a new job. so he transferred all his files to an external hard disk. before doing this he changed the hidden files to unhidden. but now when he tried to open that particular folder its blank. all stuff are invisible.what can we do about it. please help.

by MidnightCowboy on 24. February 2014 - 5:38  (114620)

We are unable to respond to support requests here in the comments. Please post full details of your issue, including operating system, here in our forum. MC - Site Manager.
http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by Chovabub (not verified) on 16. January 2012 - 13:09  (87245)

Another way of hiding stuff that you want hidden is in plain site! It's very easy!

1. Download a zip program.
2. Zip the files up and call it something. i.e.: test.zip or text.zipx (if you have the latest winzip)
3. Open windows Explorer (win key + E) and then click on Tools / Folder Options / View and untick the box that sais Hide extensions for known file types and choose Apply / Ok
4. Navigate with windows explorer back to the file you just zipped and change the name of the extension to any other 3 letter combination - make it something weird or if you wanna be extra sneaky and change it to .dll or .sys or .exe even to disguise it as a windows file.
5. Allow the file extension change and turn off extensions from being shown. (step 3)
6. When you want to look at the files right click and choose "open with [zip program]". Ensure the "Always use this program to open that file is UNCLICKED". If you changed the file to a windows file (ie .exe) never double click the file to open just to be on the safe side.

7. This way you can access the files in plain site and no one has a clue what the file is and even if they accidentally click it it's not going to open automatically with [zip program].

[Moderator's note : Mention of shareware program replaced with generic [zip program] ]

:)

by ni3 (not verified) on 29. November 2011 - 12:29  (84107)

i m using dell laptop.
and having only numeric keypad above qwerty keypad and no numeric lock.
so how can i get it. plz reply.....

by mr6n8 on 29. November 2011 - 13:33  (84111)

If you are referring to the Alt + 255 for no break space in the post below yours, I have a Dell and use the Character Map for such things like the µ.

Depending on your Windows, Start>Run>charmap or Start search charmap

The no break space is the 5th line down 6 from the right.

Click on it, then press Select at the bottom and then Copy.

Then paste into the folder name with Ctrl+V on the rename.

by Anonymous Guy (not verified) on 19. November 2011 - 16:59  (83550)

got this from a friend
how to make an invisible folder
step 1:make a new folder
step 2:delete the name new folder and replace it with a new one
step 3:delete the name and activate num lock
step 4:press alt+255 (the 255 is from the numpad)
step 5:no name right? but the icon is still there right? right click it
step 6:click properties
step 7:go to personalize
step 8:click change icon
step 9:select the icon with out an image
Presto an invisible folder now you can store SUPER secret stuff in it.

by 1farmerjoe (not verified) on 17. April 2012 - 16:31  (92213)

Big problem though. How you have your folder view preferences set will determine if the folder will really be invisible or not. For example, if set to "details", you will see columns. Under the "name" column will be nothing. However, under "type", you'll see folder, which will tip someone off that something is really there. They move the mouse to the invisible name that becomes highlighted, and open the folder normally.

by Dr.rAk3 (not verified) on 21. October 2011 - 8:40  (81825)

thanks bro ..thanks a lot...

by Altair (not verified) on 4. August 2011 - 16:52  (76913)

I HIDE THINGS IN INTERNET EXPLORER:

I create folders in the folder of languages like spanish-english and folder then in all of them i create another folder like sp or en and inside one of them another folder like another sp or en and put files in there:

C:/Program Files/Internet Explorer/Languages/Spanish/Sp/Sp/Sp/Sp/Sp/Spanish

and put it in 2nd spanish.

and nobody finds it well i hide pictures and Videos and name the Videos:

ZS or ZA or ZD

In windows 7 know the search in Start:

I use this so that nobody finds it because nobody searches:

ZS or ZA or ZD

by v (not verified) on 20. June 2011 - 19:04  (74053)

I liked navigating a hidden folder via address but but ultimately thought this post was just outrageously dumb. especially with great encryption software out there for free.

by asdfasdf (not verified) on 17. April 2011 - 22:30  (70409)

um where is the tool button exactly? I hid my folder and now i can't find it

by rosh (not verified) on 31. December 2010 - 7:03  (63591)

9. Now, double click key.bat to open the folder and now if you open your folder, you can access your data inside the folder again !
10. Lock your folder and hide the key.bat somewhere else on your hard disk !
11. Whenever you want to open your folder just paste the key.bat on desktop and open your folder using it !

by Anonymous3 (not verified) on 19. September 2010 - 17:45  (58120)

i click the "Do not show hidden files and folders" then (apply) then (ok)..The folder was gone but after going another folder,the hidden folder appear..!! What's the problem in my computer??? please help me..thanks

by Jojo Yee on 20. September 2010 - 4:22  (58136)

If a newly set hidden folder is shown in the left pane of Windows Explorer, it's still visible until you close the Windows Explorer and re-open it. This happens to me using XP. You might want to give it a try.

by JK (not verified) on 1. September 2010 - 13:11  (57100)

The instructions:

"Now here's the trick. Windows allows you to navigate to a hidden folder. So while in the My Documents folder, type into the address bar "\test" immediately after "My Documents" with no spaces between and hit enter."

do not work in Windows XP SP3 which eliminated the "address bar" which existed in SP2.

-JK

by image100 (not verified) on 4. June 2011 - 10:41  (73212)

lol u probably just unchecked the address bar at "View >> Toolbars >> Address Bar"
just check it and it will come back. i have mine and i have Windows XP SP3

by gboo (not verified) on 12. August 2010 - 16:39  (55867)

How can i get my hidden folders back? I newsed a program to lock and hide them, but a trial came and I stupidly uninstalled it. How can I get the folders back? I know it's on my desktop but it's like they disappeared. I even have show hidden folders ticked. Please, someone help me. Those folders were gold.

by lakshu (not verified) on 27. March 2011 - 9:29  (68635)

first you have to reinstall that program ,by using which you hide your file then put the same password in that program as before you use
to hide your file. Then unhide your file you will get your file back if you dont format your pc either.

by nagaraj (not verified) on 9. August 2010 - 6:23  (55666)

hi friends i have one problem can anyone help me

in my usb all folders shows only shortcut i can't able to find the main folder in usb i have kept some imp documents.if i can scan i can able to see the main folder pls any one help me

by Parthiban (not verified) on 15. November 2011 - 19:08  (83341)

U just right click that drive and select compress option and give ok.. Now u will get a compress copy of that usp drive contents at the destination place..

by Anupam on 9. August 2010 - 6:28  (55668)

This is not the right area to post such comments.

How was the data copied to the USB? Is it a pen drive, or an external drive? Sorry, but not enough details about the problem are given.

by Anonymous on 26. June 2010 - 20:33  (53204)

thanks alot for this!

by Anonymous on 17. May 2010 - 1:48  (49821)

guys look, when i made my folder hidden i checked the "Hidden" box on the properties , but i ALSO accidentally clicked the "Read-only" box too, making it blank, no shade, no check ... so when i go to "Tools" , and click folder options , and click "Show hidden folders" it wont go , i tried clicking "Apply" and "Apply to all folders" , and it says "hidden folders will show up the next time you open them" , so now.. nothing happens .. pls reply pls ... i have all of my musics , pictures, videos, cheats ,, games ,, etc. in all of those files,, pls help .. pls!!!!!

by Anonymous on 21. May 2010 - 8:12  (50025)

i made the same mistake.....but u can fix it like this.....i hidden my documents and setting so everything on my desktop disappeared. ...u simply go to start search ...enable to search hidden files...u put the name of the folder....then right-click properties and disable hidden...simple as that

by Anonymous on 11. March 2010 - 16:06  (45387)

hey guys my fren created a folder saying he ll do a magic n now its not getting deleted n its a no name folder. ... he gave some code pressing alt key i guess(other than 0160 or 255, bcoz they get deleted). so kindly help me with this anyone....

by MidnightCowboy on 11. March 2010 - 16:40  (45389)

For support queries you will need to register and post here in the forum.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/general-computer-support/

by Anonymous on 11. February 2010 - 12:32  (43374)

I followed your instructions. After setting the TEST file and one of the files to HIDDEN status, Windows Explorer hides them from view all right.

However the Search utility shows them in the results, if you set the 'more advanced options' in the Search utility to "search hidden files and folders". The hidden file shows greyed.

Also, if you set the Views in the search results for Thumbnails, it would be much easier to see the image of the hidden files.

by ianjrichards (not verified) on 15. February 2010 - 3:34  (43647)

As the article says "Hiding your folder like this is fine if you only want to keep information from prying eyes but if you really want to properly protect your hidden folder you should encrypt it."

by Anonymous on 6. February 2010 - 22:19  (43005)

Um, I need to ask something. What exactly happens if someone types into the Windows Search bar, say, a few letters that coincidentally corrispond to one of your hidden files? Is there a way to make it so your files don't show up on searches?

by Anonymous on 11. January 2010 - 6:31  (40822)

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