Introduction: Hidden Windows XP and Vista Folders "How to Hide Files and Folders"

Picture of Hidden Windows XP and Vista Folders "How to Hide Files and Folders"

Many locked, private or hidden folders in Windows XP can simply be browsed or 'unlocked' and 'unhidden' by the same switches in Windows Explorer you'd used to enable the same features.

But what if I make it "invisible' or "transparent" then even if found it looks just like the background!

Try this trick on most any OS. Note this is not foolproof but along with locked, hidden and passworded/encrypted folders is very helpful and very safe from command line browsing as the directory/folder names are not "typeable" with any US keyboards...

Vista works similarly but seems to leave behind a "ghost" image?...hum...?


On the note of security don't collaborate with people you don't know about, ok? I can remove this from the face of the internet but it won't do me much good. ~llama13

'Security sux that's the point. Dude collaborate...not deface...add some value and post some results or do some test. YOU JOINED the GROUP so you get to see what I contributed to the site ...noobs... what did you post? 'ERCK

Step 1: Overview - OS Versions & Variations

Picture of Overview - OS Versions & Variations

Variations I've found-

Windows XP - no Media or Language support - Use ASCII codes in the name field with "num lk" keypad then 'alt'+0160 in the Name field from the Properties tab "New Folder".

Windows Media Center - varies see above or below

Windows Language support - use "right click" and insert Unicode in the 'New Folder' clear text from name field under the Properties tab.

Vista - has similar variations between ASCII, UniCodes and language options that vary by install and country of origin.

see on for examples, screen shots & limitations.

Step 2: Properties - Edit Name and Icon

Picture of Properties - Edit Name and Icon
Edit properties (New Folder) now has a name like

from an ASCII code - <num lk>, <alt>+0160 *

  • must use numeric keypad & NOT the Number keys above qwerty!

from Unicode - Insert any non-printing character

Now let's hide the Icon!

Step 3: Appearance & Visualization

Picture of Appearance & Visualization
Some ways they/you can list your newly Gone files...

...hum...perhaps some reverse psychology is required here?
have these 'invisible' folders be empty. Make a Default 'New Folder' as empty but put a sub-folder inside with your files...

You cannot look at every directory with "New folder" inside it.


Step 4: Tips & Tricks

Picture of Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks

TIP -Check for language support on toolbar...

TRICKS-always have an odd number of folders, add an extra as needed and keep that hidden one bottom right, right row.

TRICKS-Consider always having a folder called New Folder (inside it's EMPTY) add your hidden folders in this, alone, then lock and set read only bits on this New Folder.

TIPS-Remove the hidden folders from backups & archives and searches.

TIPS-Add language support on your tool bar...See embedded comments below...


Step 5: Suggestions or Ideas...

Picture of Suggestions or Ideas...

Please...any comments welcome here!

You may have to add text service below for some Unicode languages to work...

Step 6: VISTA!

Picture of VISTA!

Screen Shots HERE...!

Step 7: VMWare Image...

What if I distribute a public VMWare player image and you find the easter egg?



Strategies? Suggestions?

...see you later....maybe....I may not be visible!


EDITED by Hugo.B at 16:21 15/6/07GMT
Reason? To prove a point, see my comment below.
Sorry for any inconvenience, I'm not malicious.


EDITED by Erck 6/17/07 CST
Is everyone a noob here? Guys post SOMETHING ON TOPIC!
I added this to the GROUP for "c-o-l-l-a-b-o-r-a-t-i-o-n".

col·lab·o·rate (kə-lāb'ə-rāt') Pronunciation Key
intr.v. col·lab·o·rat·ed, col·lab·o·rat·ing, col·lab·o·rates

To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.
To cooperate treasonably, as with an enemy occupation force in one's country.

Use the former and not the later....ERCK


knight21 (author)2010-08-01

i have vista home premium installed in my laptop bt i m tryin alt+0160 bt nthin is happenin!!!!!! pls help me out

erckgillis (author)knight212010-08-11

Check your language options

hacker-by-nite (author)2010-07-07

ok i did this just to try it and it worked but now i cant delete it please help

right click and select delete on folder or file "ghost" image

erikals (author)2009-07-09

Really cool instructable, I like it

rich3102 (author)2009-04-06

Nice article, and ghost folder trick :) I Just use Folder Vault Select a folder or file, it hides it completely. Then the program can completely hide it self via stealth mode. It will also clear history when it closes. Very quick and simply, no fuss with the old ghost folder trick.

erikals (author)rich31022009-07-09

Is Folder Vault freeware?

THE_GEEK2007 (author)2007-05-12

The text was being invisible

erckgillis (author)THE_GEEK20072007-05-20

<font color="white">Making the text color white</font>

Derin (author)erckgillis2009-04-05

HTML does not work.But I wish it did.

Trogador (author)2007-12-15

Is there any way to do this without a number keypad? My stupid laptop doesn't have one; it just has the long bar of numbers at the top...

Derin (author)Trogador2009-04-05

I think some keys on laptop keyboards double as the numpad,as is the case with the HP Pavillion my mom has.Check for small numbers on the letters.

Derin (author)2009-04-05

  Wth.....alt+0160 is a space...

vaiden (author)2007-08-21

This is nice. There is another way to hide data on NTFS partitions. You use Alternate data streams to fully hide the data, which can only be viewed with an ads aware application. To hide data such as text, or jpegs, or mp3's you use this command format. Run CMD at the run prompt. Then switch to the directory where the file you want to hide is located. Now type this without the quotes and substituting your filename. " type yourfile.bla > blahblah.txt:yourfile.bla" Only the txt file will show up and it can be ran or whatever but will not give away your ads file. If it is moved away from an NTFS partition the hidden file will be lost. This is for long term storage of your data, because it takes awhile to do. To get the file back just type this without the quotes and substituting your filename. " more < blahblah.txt:yourfile.bla > yourvisiblefile.bla " To hide exe files youll need a tool called cat.exe that is a Unix file, but is available as a win32 port somewhere, google it.

erckgillis (author)vaiden2007-08-22

Excellent! I like to hid data & files in these 'invisable' folders with enccrypted JPEG's. People are suckers for a pretty picture, flowers, puppies, bikini's etc... Data can be hidden inside JPEG uptp many megabytes of text, exe or others... See te free Here is a pretty has my COMPLETE inventory and prices for my Amazon store, cost, sales, profits from you guys, posted here freely, but safe and secure! E

cheboncruz (author)erckgillis2009-04-02

why not use the cmd command like the copy /c is it? Which you copy a zip to the picture. Still if it passes 2mb then a person could suspect that something is wrong with that picture.

cheboncruz (author)2009-04-02

Not secure. If you sort it then you will be able to identify the invisible folder tried it already. Why not put your folder in somewhere sneakier places. Like.... Windows folder or System32 folders or Local settings, inside application folders in program files or encrypt using truecrypt.

shiwam (author)2008-10-01

i will try..................

trebuchet03 (author)2007-05-01

Just remember never to depend on user ignorance as a form of security ;) Doing so is kinda like hiding your house key under your door mat -- the people you're not concerned with won't care to look.... but those "other" people...

erckgillis (author)trebuchet032007-05-07

Every form of security relies on some level of ignorance, just not how you see it usually. If I'm "smarter" than you any level of security is in jeapordy. Go ahead, encrypt you network...I can aircrack WEP. Password or delete files, we know those are recoverable. Personal Security. Sure lock your doors and car, you can make keys...if you know how. Any security on your Bank account? I can't get your account #, PIN or social security myself....but others have and it does and will matter how secure.. Sometimes the easiest is the least likey suspected never obvious and if you can't even suspect the technique no level of sophisicated tools or utilities will help you. This is just a fun hack...

5h4rp13 (author)erckgillis2008-06-09

Dang it, stop it with the internet tough guy. No one cares that you can "hax into their computers"

mitxela (author)erckgillis2007-05-08

Generally, depending on ignorance is viewed as poor security. The best systems have open source algorythms, so everyone can see how they work, and yet without the key / hash / seed they're only crackable to brute force (or reversing the algorythm, which most of the time will take longer than brute force).

Cameronk (author)2007-08-07

this is awesome lol i'm using to hide my stuff from my brother =)

erckgillis (author)Cameronk2007-08-07

Dude, hide Gxy Pxxn stuff in HIS folders....hehe

zpersichetti (author)erckgillis2008-06-08

rofl i did that with my bro it turns out he found it told my parents and they thought I was gxy....i am strate like a pencil though

HardCoreHacker (author)2008-05-25

CRAP!!!!! IT wont DELETE help please

Feletoch (author)2008-03-18

lol there's much easier way to hide, instead of making the icon invisible, change it into a dll icon, rename it Whatever Dll name you like.dll, click hidden, then change your folder option to show hidden folder. and finally put it in system32. if you think that is not enough. just add more Dll and invisible folder in it.

Trogador (author)2007-12-15

Never mind; I found that great picture where you can "customize" and make it blank! Then I just shoved it to the bottom, and voila! Thank you so much!

killer wj (author)2007-11-08

I made my file name ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ and arranged the folders by name so nobody could find my folder.

A.C.E. (author)2007-08-19
so, what exactly do you need to type in the box that is for the name that says new folder?
  • i have a laptop.
  • i dont get the"
Windows XP - no Media or Language support - Use ASCII codes in the name field with "num lk" keypad then 'alt'+0160 in the Name field from the Properties tab "New Folder".
" if you could tell me what exactly this means, i dont have unicode.
erckgillis (author)A.C.E.2007-08-20

OK type alt+0160 into the "Name" field. but on a laptop or desktop keyboard you MUST use the numeric keypad. On a laptop you MUST click (NumLk) then use the left alt key, old down and press the KEYPAD "+" and then the 0160 on the KEYPAD ONLY. Press KEYPAD Enter... Save, OK and test...! E

ll.13 (author)2007-06-15

I'm not too savvy with the collaboration things.

erckgillis (author)2007-06-15

Noob... You "Joined" the you get to see and type something useful. Or take up space... E

ll.13 (author)2007-06-15

Uh, oh, collaborators aren't invisible.

dasarp (author)2007-05-09

Try this instructable on getting Windows Passwords:

erckgillis (author)dasarp2007-05-09

ooops....a typo? or can't cut and paste?

perhaps an instructable on <ctrl>-c and <ctrl>-v

If I have your password I still cannot 'find' your hidden files. ANY COMPUTER you can get to the 'console' can be easily hacked, boot in single-user mode on UNIX or use D: recovery partitions on a PC/Laptop...

Protect you physical machine even better than your web, network or virtual ID's.


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mitxela (author)2007-04-30

Hmm... an interesting idea, I must say. Would probably fool most novice computer users. It makes itself pretty obvious if you change view, say to 'details' and/or disable thumbnail caching. But on the whole a pretty nice idea, you could have an invisible icon on the corner of your desktop.

erckgillis (author)mitxela2007-05-07

..yeah I show some examples...but if you do not know to look how would you know to change a view?...also If I have a normal folder called "ERCK" and and it is empty of any files, is there still a missing icon or folder? Would you look in three empty folders? changing views? When nothing is thier or I name them "New Folder"...hum? You'd have to change the view for every subdirectory and scan for a blank visually, the search command will not help as our file does not have a "Name" you can see as it is just non printing characters. We just need to work on the rest of the clues to make a truely 'hidden' folder like Vegas says on the Mac's and UNIX/Linux. Can you lock a view or all sub directories? hum? How deep can you place a directory? Any limits. What about a shell game ...I give you three blank folders, four levels deep or more ...can you look in them all efficiently? Chaning views How hard is it? IS a empty folder harder to pick out the hidden file? ideas here? I give you a VMWare image of a XP system with a single hidden can find it by scanning folders and chinging views or using search etc? good's a GUI and visually driven, your commands to 'unhide' or search/find are not useful here. ideas?

mitxela (author)erckgillis2007-05-08

Well, for someone like me, I've disabled thumbnail caching and the remembering of directory views anyway. And either way, the name of the file isn't its biggest give-away usually, most of the time, that's too obvious.

For instance, if you find a folder that looks empty, but has a substantial file size, it's a bit of a giveaway.

And as was said, once the secret's been revealed, it's not much of a security thing anymore.

I think the Zip - Ace - Rar technique is pretty good. Although you have the obscurity, you also have the tripple encryption, so it's a nice balance.

XP_it_is (author)2007-05-06

hi my Win Xp system was hit by a malware and now even when i chose " show hidden folders" options, my hidden folders do not appear, however the status bar does show i have 3 hidden folders..pls advice.Cheers!

erckgillis (author)XP_it_is2007-05-07

Advice ....Yes, post your issue on, I address 100's of issues there where comments and feedback are dynamicly self correcting... E

future3003 (author)2007-05-02

If you're really serious about hiding your stuff, there are lots of software available to do it for you. One example is Hide Files and Folders. This program is free and can do lots of stuff. It can hide your folders completely such that people or programs cannot access it or see it, it can turn folders invisible but still accessible, it can turn your folders read-only and can apply a setting where you have to enter a password before opening the folder. I really like this program and use it often.

erckgillis (author)future30032007-05-07


LasVegas (author)2007-04-30

It's kind of silly isn't it? If you make a folder invisible in Windows it still takes a place holder? To make a folder (or any file for that mater.) invisible on the Mac, use Terminal to rename it with a leading period. It not only becomes invisible, but doesn't use the space in a listing, nor is it counted as an existing folder. The only way to open it is to know the path to it and use the Open Folder command.

zachninme (author)LasVegas2007-05-01

The . applies to all unix-based systems.

LasVegas (author)zachninme2007-05-01

...and your point is?

erckgillis (author)LasVegas2007-05-01

Advantage of a UNIX kernel...! Windows will never be able to pile on newer and newer versions while maintaining backwards compatability. Question is how do we do this on XP or Vista? Can we find a .ini file or a registry setting that controls the remaind place holders....It can be done..I hope! ...might fool my kids, but not my peers..

LasVegas (author)erckgillis2007-05-01

This is one thing that astounded me about Vista! I was expecting a brand new OS that got rid off all the problems carried over from Win95. Especially viruses! Instead, they added an irritating confirmation for just about everything you do and it still requires a 3rd party virus filter!

beavis2k (author)2007-05-01

An easier method, use truecrypt and make a hidden file, plus it also has high encryption, it also works on USB flash drives. Now, not only are your files hidden but they are also encrypted. Read the instructions before using, and try a small file to test it out. There is another method in xp, go to the folders security setting and change the permissions. It will be visible, but inaccessible to other users, just make sure you don't accidentally block yourself out.

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Bio: So what ideas would you like to try?
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