Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Create a hidden folder for your private stuff

Sometimes a little privacy is nice. Today I’m going to show you how to hide a folder so that other people who use your machine won’t be able to see it, or its contents.
I hope all of you had a pleasant and enjoyable holiday weekend.

Tip of the day: Create a hidden folder for your private files. The first thing to consider is where to place the folder. You want it to be someplace you’ll remember easily, and someplace sort of out of the way. Some folks will put it right on their desktop, and there is a certain elegance to the “hide in plain sight” approach, but I’m going to bury it a little… inside my My Video folder (inside My Documents).

Navigate to the My Video folder (My Documents >My Video) and open it. If you have not loaded any video onto your PC, this window will be blank (empty). Now create a new folder. Right-click on any part of the blank area and select “New” from the list of choices, and a new list of choices appear — select “folder”.


Now you will see a folder ready for a new name. I chose to name mine “stuff”, as it is fairly uninteresting and innocuous. If you want to make sure nobody is tempted to look in there, you could name it “efficiency reports 2005”, but you want to avoid an intriguing name, like “private”, “confidential”, “good stuff”, or “collection”.

Now we’re going to make the folder hidden: right-click on your new folder (“stuff” in my example) and select “Properties”. Down towards the bottom is a checkbox labeled “Hidden”. Check it, and click on the “Apply” button.


Now when you navigate back to the My Video folder you will not see your folder. If you do, it should be faded, or “dim”. This means you have your Folder Options set to “show hidden files and folders”. This is normally off, by default; but to undo this setting, look (up) to the Tools menu and click it, and select “Folder Options” (the bottom choice) and then the View tab.


Make sure the radio button “Do not show hidden files and folders” is selected, and then click on the “Apply to All Folders” button, or the “Apply” button if you only want to affect the My Video folder. Now the folder is invisible. To make it visible again, for when you want to use it, reverse the steps above to “Show hidden…”

Let us say you want to put a password “lock” on the folder to make it even more difficult for other users to look inside (should they locate it somehow). Right-click on the folder and select “Properties” again and click on the Sharing tab.


Place a check in the “Make this folder private” checkbox and click “Apply”. Now the folder is protected with your User Account’s logon password. If you have not implemented a User Account password, you missed my very second Tech–for Everyone article; to see it, click here, you will now be warned that there’s no User Account password.


answer “Yes”, and you’ll be taken to the User Accounts control panel.


Since you will have to enter this each time you log onto the PC, I suggest you follow the rules of a strong password (complex), as discussed in the article above (the link) and write it down someplace as well.

Now you have a secure — and private — place to keep your personal files. But wait, there’s more!

Today’s free link: Because of the fact that hidden files and folders can be found by someone with a little savvy (like you, now that you know the “Show hidden files” command) and the password protection will only apply to network shares and when the other user have their own User Accounts… if you are sharing your UA (User Account), you need a 3rd-party tool to hide and encrypt the folder(s) you want to keep private. True Crypt is the free solution I recommend.

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul, All Rights Reserved.

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September 4, 2007 - Posted by | advice, computers, encrypting files, file system, how to, network shares, networking, passwords, PC, permissions, privacy, security, tech, User mode, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Impressive guide. Very useful. By the way, do you know how to apply the same procedure with Vista? I would like to know, its for security/parental reasons.


    Comment by Berzerker | April 29, 2008 | Reply

  2. Berzerker–
    As with so many things, you use the exact same method in Vista as you do in XP (only, sometimes, there might be a slight variation in the name: it is “My Computer” in XP, just “Computer” in Vista, for example).
    Right-click on the file or folder you wish to modify >select “Properties” >place a check in the checkbox.
    The specifics (of Sharing) in Vista look different, but work essentially the same way. On the Sharing tab, click the “Advanced sharing” button, and then set specific Permissions for specific Users, or Groups.
    As a for instance, if it is your child you wish to prevent from being able to delete files, and you have establised a basic User level account for them, you can control their abilities by either setting a Permission level for that User, or for the whole group of basic User(s). This won’t effect your permissions as you’re in the Owner Group.
    May I also suggest that Windows’ built in Help tool explains setting Share Permissions rather well. Click Start >Help and Support, and type “Sharing” into the Search Help window.


    Comment by techpaul | April 29, 2008 | Reply

  3. I see. Thanks alot Sir!

    I very much appreciated the reply. It was most informative.


    Comment by Berzerker | April 29, 2008 | Reply

  4. Berzerker–
    You are quite welcome, and I hope I helped you somewhat. NTFS Permissions, and Network shares, are the stuff of advanced Microsoft Certifications, and I know some people employed as Network Admins who don’t have a complete grasp of this confusing and complex topic (I know that I often garble my hierarchies).
    If you have a folder that you don’t want your kid (or spouse) getting into, period, use TrueCrypt on it.


    Comment by techpaul | April 29, 2008 | Reply

  5. Yes, that helped a lot.

    And many thanks for the extra info. I’m pretty much conscious about the safety of my more ‘delicate’ files here. And as for TrueCrypt, I might consider getting that if ever I see that any predicament would call for the need or if anyone in my area could possibly be like the savvy fellow type you mentioned here in your guide.


    Comment by Berzerker | April 30, 2008 | Reply

  6. How do I get to the file that I have hidden?


    Comment by Anonymous | November 29, 2012 | Reply

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