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How To Hide Folders and Files in Windows

There are situations when you want to hide some of your folders or files in your computer from being seen by others. This applies specially when you share the user login in Windows XP. By default, every user's Desktop and My Document is not accessible to other users of the same computer. If a user account is set to lock the desktop after certain period of inactive time and have set a password, then you don't need to hide any files or folders as you are the only one who can unlock it using your user-name and password. Having said that, you can not protect the files from being seen by a person sitting next you and monitoring your screen. You need to hide the files/folders to avoid this kind of scenario.

What I am going to discuss here is a simple approach to hide folders & files in Windows XP without using any additional paid/free software. We will be using attribute of files/folder for this purpose. Using attribute, any file/folder can be set to hide and be unhidden. There are mainly two ways you can achieve this – [a]. by changing folder properties or [b]. using DOS Command "attrib" from Command prompt.

Before you go ahead and start working on to hide your files or folders, make sure that the default view of file or folders are set not to show hidden files or folder from Folder Options. Usually, this option is already set to hide the files and folders, but it's always better to check it to confirm. In order to do this: -

1. Click on My Computer from your desktop and then click on Tools -> Folder Options subsequently.

2. Click on View tab and under the Hidden Files and Folders, check the radio button that says “Do not show hidden files and folders”.

3. Click OK to save the changes.

Now, follow the steps below to hide folders or files:

[a]. By Changing Folder Properties:
1. Right click on Folder you want to hide and check the Hidden box under Attributes and click Apply.
2. Another window will pop up – asking if you want to “Apply changes to this folder, sub-folders and files”. Don’t change anything there and click OK.
It takes some time to change the attributes of the folder depending upon the size of the folder and then press OK. Now that folder is Hidden.
[b]. By using DOS Command – attrib:

1. Click on Start –> Run –> type cmd and hit enter.

For example, I have a directory called “Test” in root directory and I want to hide that directory with the help of attribute command. Change the directory one level back to the directory you want to hide.

2. Type attrib +h Test and hit Enter. That’s all, Test folder is hidden now.  (Type attrib –h Test to unhide the folder.)
Important advice: As this method is very simple and basic, any tech savvy or informed user can change the view option to show hidden files and folders from Folder options and your hidden file can be easily seen if you have hidden your file or folder at Desktop. Desktop is a very obvious place so what I suggest is that you should create or move the file or folder you are going to hide to somewhere deep inside directory. I strongly suggest not to hide your files or folder on the Desktop.

Related post: Create Secure and Locked Folder in Windows