Privacy is hard to come by these days. Whether you are sharing a computer or are generally suspicious of peers who occasionally have access to your computer, you may have the desire to store sensitive information or private files in a safe place. This article provides a summary of three quick and easy ways to hide folders in Windows 7.
Note that none of these solutions will effectively hide your data from knowledgeable users. For truly sensitive and confidential data, I recommend more advanced solutions, which not only hide or luck, but also encrypt your data. For pointers, please see the additional resources section below.
1. Hide Folders
Windows offers an easy way to quickly hide folders from unsuspecting eyes. This method requires that Windows does not show hidden files and folders. So to begin with, you have to check this setting:
- Open Windows Explorer (open any folder) and go to > Tools > Folder options…
- Within Folder Options switch to the > View tab.
- Under > Files and Folders find the option > Hidden files and folders and select > Don’t show hidden files, folders, or drives.
- Click > OK and proceed to hiding a folder.
To hide a folder do the following:
- Right-click the folder you want to hide and select > Properties.
- In the > General tab check the option > Hidden.
- Go to > Advanced change archive and index attributes.
- Click > OK to save your changes.
Once you wish to access your folder, go through folder options to temporarily make hidden folders visible. Obviously, this is a little inconvenient. To take a shortcut and hide or unhide several folders at once, you can use the tool Free Hide Folder. It can hide and unhide selected folders, given the folder options are set to not show hidden files and folders.
Although access to this tool is protected by a password, it does reveal that there are hidden folders somewhere and advanced users will find them with ease.
2. Make Folders Invisible
This method will make your folder invisible and not hidden. On the one hand you won’t have to go through folder options to unhide your folder, on the other someone may discover your invisible folder by accident. To make an invisible folder, you have to do two things: first remove the folder name and second make the folder icon transparent. To hide the folder name…
- …select the questionable folder and click F2.
- Then hold the > ALT key while typing the numbers > 0160 using the number pad.
- Hit > Enter and the folder name should be gone.
Next, you need to make the folder icon invisible:
- Right-click your folder and select > Properties.
- Switch to the > Customize tab and click the > Change Icon… button.
- Several blank icons can be found in the default Windows 7 icon collection. Find one, select it and click > OK.
If the invisible folder sits on your desktop, make sure it’s along the edge of the screen and towards the right side. This will decrease the chance of it being found by chance. Note that anyone can still access the folder, given they find it. For example clicking [CTRL] + [A] will select and highlight all files and folders, including invisible ones.
This method was also described in Aibek’s article 2 Ways to Hide “Important” Files and Folders in Windows.
3. Hide Folders With My Lockbox
My Lockbox is a utility to lock and hide folders. When you first launch the tool, you need to create a password. Next, you can assign a Lockbox folder. In the free version, the amount of folders is limited to one, although you can change the folder anytime. When you launch My Lockbox, you can lock (hide) and unlock (unhide) your Lockbox folder. Unlike Free Folder Hide, My Lockbox will also hide your folder when the folder options are set to show hidden files, folders, and drives.
In the advanced view, you can access additional options, for example to set trusted applications allowed to access your folder or to create hotkeys.
We have previously reviewed My Lockbox here: How To Lock Windows Folders With MyLockbox.
Saikat has introduced you to How to Hide Folders Using 7 Free Apps, including TrueCrypt, a tool that not only lets you hide, but also encrypt your files and folders. Another tool we have reviewed in more detail is Easy File Locker. For more advanced solutions, have a look at this article: How to Lock Or Hide A Folder, A File Or A Drive On The Computer.
How do you store sensitive data from prying eyes? Would you recommend to store files in a secret online location?