How to hide files and folders: You are not a great computer expert, indeed you have started to use the computer assiduously only recently, but you are already fed up with the friends and the kiddy relatives who do nothing but stick their noses among the documents saved on your PC. So why don’t you say goodbye to this hassle by hiding your data?
How to hide files and folders
Even if you are not a “wizard” on your computer, you can easily hide the files and folders contained on your PC using the built-in settings in Windows or macOS and free software, which will allow you to keep all your files away from prying eyes . Do not you believe it? Then try to follow the advice on how to hide files and folders that I am about to give you: I guarantee you that you will change your mind.
How do you say? Would you like to be able to hide files and folders on your smartphone or tablet? No problem: although Android and iOS do not offer the same degree of freedom allowed in this sense by Windows and macOS, in the last part of the tutorial I will explain how to act also in the mobile field. Now, however, ban the talk and let’s take action: find all the information you need right below!
How to hide files and folders in Windows
As mentioned in the opening of the post, Windows integrates the ability to hide files and folders, applying the attribute of hidden element to them, without using third-party programs. To find out how to hide files and folders with this method, all you have to do is select the files or folders to hide ( even simultaneously ), right click on them and select the Properties item from the menu that appears.
In the window that opens, go to the General tab (even if you should already be there), put the check mark next to the Hidden item and click first on the Apply button and then on the OK button . Well: from now on, the files and folders you have selected are hidden (invisible) and you can access them only by correctly typing their address in the Windows File Explorer.
This at least if you have not activated the display of hidden files and folders on Windows , simply going to select the View tab of the File Explorer (above) and ticking the Hidden elements option : in this case, the hidden elements will still be visible (even if with a transparent icon) and accessible by everyone.
To remedy this problem, you can resort to a “trick”, ie mark the files and folders you want to protect as system files. System files can also be made visible (just go to the File menu > Change folder and search options or in the Tools> Folder Options menu of the File Explorer and disable the Hide protected system files item ) but this is an option definitely more difficult to find and, generally, less used.
To mark the files and folders that you want to protect as system files, you need to use the Command Prompt . Click, therefore, on the Start button (the flag icon located in the lower left corner of the screen), type cmd in the search field of the menu that appears on the screen and enter .
In the window that opens, type the command attrib + s + h , then put a space and drag the file and / or folder you want to hide in the Prompt: in doing so, its full path will automatically appear in the command. After that, press the Enter key on the PC keyboard and you’re done.
In case of second thoughts, you can remove the system file attribute from the file or folder you previously hidden by going back to the Command Prompt and giving the command attrib -s -h [path to file or folder] . Easier than that?
How to hide files and folders on Mac
Even MacOS includes a function to hide files and folders. The latter is accessible through the Terminal , therefore, the first step you need to take is to open the Other folder of the Launchpad and start the utility in question. Alternatively, you can call up the Terminal using Spotlight or Siri .
In the window that opens, then type the chflags hidden command , enter a space and drag the folder or file to the Terminal, so that the complete path is automatically reported. Finally, press the Enter key on the keyboard and you’re done.
You can then access the items that you have hidden by activating the display of hidden files in the Finder (pressing the key combination Shift + cmd + .) Or by going to the menu Go> Go to Folder in the Finder (top), by typing the exact path of the folder or the file to be viewed and pressing Enter on the keyboard (it may be necessary to insert a dot before the name of the folder or file to be displayed, to avoid the occurrence of errors).
In case of second thoughts, you can eliminate the invisibility attributes of your files and folders by going back to the Terminal and typing the command chflags nohidden [path to file or folder] .
How to hide files and folders with passwords
If you have the doubt that someone can enable the display of hidden files and folders on your computer or, however, you want to hide files and folders in a more effective way than that provided by Windows or macOS, you can contact VeraCrypt : a free program and open source available for all major desktop platforms (Windows, macOS and Linux), which allows you to create password-protected volumes in which to insert all the files and folders that you want to keep away from prying eyes.
If you want to download VeraCrypt and use a Windows PC , connected to the program’s website and click on the link corresponding to the Installer item , under the Windows flag.
When the download is complete, open the .exe file you just obtained and, in the window that opens, click the Yes and OK buttons . Then put a check mark next to I accept the license terms and successfully complete the setup by pressing in sequence of Next , Next , Install , OK , End and No .
If, on the other hand, you have a Mac , to use VeraCrypt you must first download and install FUSE for macOS : a free component without which it is not possible to operate the program correctly.
Therefore, connect to the FUSE for macOS website and click on the item FUSE for macOS [version number] which is located in the right sidebar, under the heading Stable Releases , to download the installation package of the software on your computer. Once this is done, also connected to the VeraCrypt website and click on the link corresponding to the Mac OS X item , under the Finder icon, to download the version of the program for macOS.
Now you need to install the two software. So open the .dmg package of FUSE for macOS and launch the executable FUSE for macOS inside it. In the window that opens, click on the Continue button three consecutive times, then on Accept . Verify, therefore, that all the available items are selected and press Continue and Install . Finally, type the Mac administration password , enter and press Close and Move , to complete the setup.
Now, open the VeraCrypt .dmg package and launch the VeraCrypt_Installer executable present inside it. In the window that opens, click on the Continue button twice in succession, then on the Accept and Install buttons . Then type the Mac administration password , press the Enter key on the keyboard and click Close and Move to finish the setup.
Now you can take action and create your own encrypted volume, in which to hide files and folders. Start VeraCrypt through its icon on the Windows desktop or in the macOS Launchpad and, if necessary, translate the program interface into Italian by clicking on the Language … item in the Settings menu (above), then choosing the Italian option from the window that opens and clicking on the OK button . At the time of writing, this operation is only feasible on Windows, on macOS the program is only in English (but still very understandable for those who “chew” a minimum of the language in question).
Once the VeraCrypt interface has been set in Italian, click on the Create a volume button to start creating a new encrypted volume. Therefore, put the check mark on the option Create an encrypted container file , click Next , choose to create a standard VeraCrypt volume (the hidden VeraCrypt volume is a type of volume designed to discover mainly professionals, in which the true content of the volume is camouflaged by the presence of dummy files and by the use of a pair of passwords instead of a single password) and go on .
Next, click the Select files , choose the folder to save your encrypted volume and a name to it, click on the button Next and choose either the ‘ coding algorithm that’ confusion algorithm from use to encrypt the files contained in it. In this case, I advise you to leave the default settings active: AES and SHA-512 , then click on Next .
Now you have to set the maximum size that your volume can reach: the volume, in fact, cannot be set to have “infinite” dimensions and, therefore, although it actually occupies the disk space only in case of need, it must have a maximum limit in terms of KB , MB , GB or TB , which you can set via the appropriate text field. Once this is done, click on the Next button .
Now enter the password you want to use to protect your encrypted volume, using the Password and Confirm fields , and click once more on the Next button .
Now you have to choose the file system to be used to format the volume (it is preferable to use exFAT , so as not to have the 4GB limit for files that you would have chosen FAT but keeping full compatibility with both Windows and macOS) and you have to move the cursor mouse until the bottom bar turns completely green (to increase the effect of the coding keys) and click first on the Format button and then on OK and Exit .
Well: now you have an encrypted volume in which to store files and folders. To do this, open VeraCrypt , select the letter of the drive in which you want to mount your volume and click on the Select file button to select the file of the latter (the file you created earlier).
Once this is done, press the Mount button (or the Automatic mounting button , if you want to mount the volume automatically every time the system is started), type the password you have set for volume protection and click OK .
The volume will become accessible via File Explorer or Finder, as if it were a USB stick or an external hard disk, and you can act freely inside it by copying, moving and deleting files and folders.
Next, remember to unmount the volume in VeraCrypt, selecting its drive letter and clicking on the Unmount button , at the bottom left.
How to hide files and folders on Android
Would you also like to hide files and folders on your smartphone or Android tablet ? No problem: even if the operating system of the green robot does not offer a native function to do this, there are third-party apps that can perform the task very well.
For example, I recommend Solid Explorer : a file manager that allows, among other things, to protect files and folders with passwords. The protection is valid only within the app, in the sense that to unlock the encrypted files you need to use Solid Explorer, but the data are still inaccessible from other apps (trying to open them, in fact, they are illegible).
Solid Explorer can be downloaded and tried for free for 14 days, after which, to continue enjoying all its extra functions, such as password protection, you must make an in-app purchase of 1.99 euros. That said, let’s get down to business.
After downloading the app from the Play Store, start Solid Explorer and press the Skip button to skip the initial presentation of the app, then tick the box relating to the acceptance of the license agreement and press the Done button .
At this point, grant the application all the permissions necessary for its operation and, if you have rooted your device, also the root permissions. Once this is done, to protect files and folders with a password, make a long tap on the first of them and then select the others, simply by touching them.
Then press the ⋮ button that appears at the bottom right and select the Crypt item from the menu that opens. Then type the password you want to use to protect the element in the appropriate text fields and press the Crypt button to complete the operation. If you want to remove the original files after encryption or use your fingerprint to unlock them (provided that your smartphone or tablet has the fingerprint sensor), tick the relevant boxes.
Mission accomplished! At this point, to access the encrypted elements, all you have to do is select them in Solid Explorer and type the unlock password.
How to hide files and folders on iOS
The iPhone and iPad can count on a default file manager, Apple File , and third-party file manager, such as the famous of Readdle Documents , but unfortunately none of them offers the ability to hide files and folders.
The only possible solution is to turn to apps such as Private Photo Vault , which allow you to create a “safe” to import photos and videos with password protection, or you can use the Hide photo function available in the sharing menu of the Photos app , to hide photos and videos in the iOS Camera Roll (the latter however remain accessible in the album called Hidden , therefore they are easily identifiable).
To learn more, read my tutorials on hiding photos and applications on iOS.