Have something to hide? Here’s how to make it disappear in Windows

Windows 10
Greg Mombert/Digital Trends
Is there a file or folder on your computer that you’d like to hide? Perhaps you share a computer, and want to keep some documents under wraps. Maybe there’s a file you want to keep on your computer, but don’t want to see every day. Or maybe, just maybe, you’re worried about keeping a particular file from prying eyes.

If you want to hide something around your house, you’ve got two options. First off, you can hide it somewhere insecure — like under the rug — and hope that no one thinks to look there. Or, secondly, you can lock it up in a safe where people can’t get in without some serious effort. The same is true for your files. You can make them harder to find with obscurity, or you can protect them with encryption. Let’s go over some tips both methods, starting with how to hide your files.

How to hide any file or folder in Windows

Hiding a file or a folder in Windows only takes a few clicks. Open the File Explorer in Windows, then select the files or folders you’d like to hide (you can select multiple files by holding the CTRL key and clicking them). Then, click View at the top of the window to reveal that section of the ribbon, where you’ll Hide selected items.


Click that button to instantly hide your files. You won’t see the file(s) — assuming the computer is set not to show hidden files, that is — and other users won’t have any way of knowing they exist. This isn’t foolproof, however. Right beside the button we used to hide our files is an option called Hidden files, which, when clicked, shows the hidden files. Click that and the files you thought were hidden files will be revealed.


Hiding files in Windows isn’t intended to be a security function, but more so a convenience. You can leave a file or folder on your computer without having to see it, which is useful for configuration files that programs occasional leave behind. It’s good that these files exist, but not necessary that you see them. If there are files you’ve created that you feel the same way about, hiding them might be a good idea. If there’s something on your computer you don’t want other people to access, though, you need another level of protection.

How to encrypt a file or folder with 7Zip

One simple way to protect a file or folder from being seen by other users is to store it in a password-protected archive. We’ve previously explained how to do this using 7Zip, a free program for opening and creating compressed files, but below is a quick overview for those not looking for a full tutorial.

Launch 7Zip, then locate the file or folder you’d like to hide inside an encrypted archive. Select your files, then click Add.


Afterward, create a ZIP file or 7Zip file and add a password in the encryption section. Click Okay when you’re done, and rest assured know that you’ve created a password-protected archive containing your files. Your files cannot be opened without the password, which provides better protection than if you had simply hidden them. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from also hiding the encrypted archive. And you can make things a little more complicated, if you want.

Throw people off by renaming a file with the wrong extension

Here’s another quick trick if you really want to keep people from opening your files. Rename the extension.

You could rename a text (.txt) file so that it looks like a JPG (.jpg), for instance, leaving anyone who tries to open it with an error message. Just rename the file to something incorrect, but instead of changing the name before the period, change the file extension following it. You’ll be warned not to do this, of course.


Encrypt your entire hard drive

If you’re still concerned about someone finding a particular file or files on your computer, you can go a step further by encrypting your entire computer. There are several options to do so, but if you’re using Windows 7 or later, we recommended using the built-in BitLocker service. You can find it by searching for “BitLocker” in the Start Menu, or by browsing the Control Panel.


You can use BitLocker to encrypt your entire hard drive, which will require users to enter a password in order to access any file. Even if an expert pulls your hard drive out of your computer and tries to examine the files, they probably won’t get far without your password. System-wide encryption is the only way to go if you want to keep your files truly hidden. Just don’t lose your password!


Microsoft turns on the lights with a new white theme in Windows 10 update

Microsoft is introducing a new light theme in the upcoming version of Windows 10 and is currently beta testing the change with Windows Insiders. The clean-looking theme brings a much-needed facelift to Windows.

Want to use one drive between a Mac and Windows PC? Partitions are your best bet

Compatibility issues between Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X may have diminished sharply over the years, but that doesn't mean they've completely disappeared. Here's how to make an external drive work between both operating systems.

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.

Is your PC slow? Here's how to restore Windows 10 to factory settings

Computers rarely work as well after they've accumulated files and misconfigured settings. Thankfully, with this guide, you'll be able to restore your PC to its original state by learning how to factory reset Windows.

Need to combine a PDF? Here's how to get it done on both Windows and Mac

Sometimes juggling multiple files at once is more of a hassle than a convenience, especially when a single file would do. This quick guide will teach you how to combine PDF files on Windows, MacOS, or with online tools.

Four Andromeda-related Microsoft patents hint at new ways to use the device

Andromeda might be getting even more real as four Microsoft patents have surfaced recently, all of which hint at possible new use cases and other new configurations for the device. 

A Google patent shows a way to make VR even more immersive

Virtual reality can be a really immersive experience, but it does sometimes it does have boundaries. Google has addressed this problem by patenting shoes with a flexible region on the bottom.

Here's why 64-bit (not 32-bit) dominates modern computing

Today's computing world isn't the same as it once was. With 64-bit processors and operating systems replacing the older 32-bit designs, we look at what 32-bit vs. 64-bit really means for you.

Converting files from MKV to MP4 is quick and easy. Just follow these steps

MKV files have their place, but if you would rather convert your videos from MKV to MP4, there are two methods we consider the best and most efficient for getting it done. In this guide, we'll walk you through them step by step.

Heal your wrist aches and pains with one of these top ergonomic mice

If you have a growing ache in your wrist, it might be worth considering changing up your mouse for something ergonomic. But which is the best ergonomic mouse for you? One of these could be the ticket to the right purchase for you.

Our 10 favorite Chrome themes add some much-needed pizzazz to your boring browser

Sometimes you just want Chrome to show a little personality and ditch the grayscale for something a little more lively. Lucky for you, we've sorted through the Chrome Web Store to find best Chrome themes available.

All the Best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…

Windows 10 notifications driving you crazy? Here's how to get them under control

Are the notifications on Windows 10 annoying you? Here's our guide on how to turn off notifications in Windows, and how to manage alerts so that the important stuff still gets through.

Razer’s BlackWidow Lite is a mechanical keyboard designed for work and play

Razer's latest keyboard comes with a minimalist design that will appeal to professionals. But don't let the all-black aesthetics fool you, as the BlackWidow Lite comes with mechanical keys that makes it a great gaming companion.