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Our Windows computers are great at locating files and folders in an instant, but that’s not always to our benefit. Sometimes, there’s content on our PC that we want to keep tucked away from prying eyes. Search tools like File Explorer can make any file visible with just a few typed characters, but thankfully, there are a few system customizations you can make to hide certain files and folders. Here are a few of our go-to methods for hiding those treasured bytes in Windows 11.

How to hide files and folders in File Explorer

If you just need to hide a single file or folder, and don’t necessarily care about somebody running a search for the content using the Windows taskbar (don’t worry, we’ll take care of this later), there’s a very simple right-click method for hiding Windows 11 files and folders in File Explorer.

  1. Open File Explorer from the Windows taskbar or Start menu. You can also launch the program with the Windows + E keyboard shortcut.
  2. Locate the folder or file you want to hide, then right-click it.
  3. Click Properties, or use the Alt + Enter keyboard shortcut.
    The Properties option highlighted when right-clicking a file in Windows 11.
  4. Put a check in the Hidden box (located at the bottom of the dropdown), then click OK.
    The Properties screen with the Hidden box checked in Windows 11.
  5. You should see a pop-up window that asks if you’d like to Apply changes to the folder only or Apply changes to this folder, sub-folders, and files.
    The Confirm Attribute Changes screen under Properties in Windows 11.
  6. After you’ve applied your changes, click OK.

How to view hidden files and folders

Just because your files and folders are hidden from plain sight doesn’t mean File Explorer won’t be able to locate them at all. Here’s how to take a look at all your hidden content with File Explorer:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click View at the top of the File Explorer window.
    An arrow pointing to the View tab in Windows 11 File Explorer.
  3. Click Show (located at the bottom of the next dropdown that appears).
    The Show/Hide panel in Windows 11 File Explorer.
  4. Click Hidden items from the list of options that appear.

How to prevent File Explorer from displaying hidden files and folders

File Explorer can also be configured to keep hidden files or folders from displaying when you search for them.

  1. Open File Explorer and run a search for any file or folder, or click the first one you see.
    A selected folder in Windows 11 File Explorer.
  2. Click the three dots button at the top of the screen.
  3. On the Folder Options menu, click View.
  4. Make sure the option to Don’t show hidden files, folders, or drives is filled in.
    The Folder Options screen in Windows 11 File Explorer.

How to hide files and folders with the Settings menu

One of the easiest ways to locate files and folders in Windows 11 is by typing a file name or extension into the search box in the taskbar. Fortunately, you’ll also be able to train your OS to stop looking for content you don’t want to be viewed. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Settings app (located in the Start menu).
    The Settings option in Windows 11.
  2. Click Privacy and Security.
  3. Click Searching Windows.
  4. On the next screen, go to the Exclude folders under the enhanced search menu, then click Exclude folder.
    The Add an Excluded Folder option on Windows 11 Searching Windows screen.
  5. You should be taken to a This Computer search menu. Locate or search for the file or folder you want to hide from search results, then click Select Folder.
    The Select Folder screen in Windows 11 Searching Windows menu.
  6. You’re done! Go ahead and run a search for the file or folder you’ve hidden to make sure it can’t be found.

In the event you want to make these files or folders visible again, repeat the first three steps. When you’re on the excluded content screen, click the three dots icon next to your hidden file/folder, then click Remove.

How to use PowerShell to hide files and folders

Windows PowerShell is a Microsoft automation tool that lets you type various commands for your OS to carry out. Here’s how to use the program to hide files and folders.

  1. Click the Start button
  2. Run a search for PowerShell, then click Run as administrator.
    The Windows Powershell launch screen in Windows 11.
  3. With PowerShell opened, key in the following command prompts and press Enter after each completed line:

$FILE=Get-Item ”path to folder” -Force

$FILE.Attributes=”Hidden”$FILE=Get-Item ”C: Users/mike/pictures/dogs” -Force

The first of these two commands will tell your computer where to find the file or folder, and the “path to folder” phrase should be replaced with the actual folder name and its location. A finished command should look something like this:

The Powershell commands to hide files in Windows 11.

The second command (the “Hidden” one) actually hides the folder.

Using Hidden commands in Windows 11 PowerShell.

You’ll also want to run this last command if you want to hide all the files stored inside the designated folder.

Get-ChildItem -path “path to folder” -Recurse -Force | foreach {$_.attributes = "Hidden"}

How to hide files and folders through indexing

You can also modify the system index in Windows 11 to not display certain file types. This may be most beneficial for situations where you don’t want your PC to return results for specific file extensions (like MOVs, FLACs, PNGs, etc.).

  1. Run a search for Indexing options in the Windows taskbar.
    Running a search for Indexing Options in the Windows 11 taskbar.
  2. On the next screen, click Advanced.
    The Indexing Options screen in Windows 11.
  3. Go to the File types tab and locate the extension type you’d like to hide.
  4. Remove the check from the checkbox and click OK.

How to hide a full drive in Windows 11

Finally, you can use the Disk Management tool to hide every type of file and folder on a whole disk. This is definitely an extreme method, though, and you should keep in mind that certain programs and system utilities may not run as they should if vital data can’t be located.

  1. Run a search for Disk Management in the Windows taskbar.
  2. Hover over the drive you want to modify and right-click.
  3. Click Change Drive Letter and Paths.
    The Change Drive Letter and Paths option on the Disk Management screen in Windows 11.
  4. Select the drive you want to hide and click Remove.
  5. Click Yes on the Windows alert that appears.
    The C Drive selected on the Change Drive Letter and Paths screen in Windows 11.

How to unhide files and folders

Not all files and folders need to remain out of sight forever. When you’re ready to unhide media on your Windows machine, here’s how to do so:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click View.
  3. Click Show, then click Hidden items.
  4. Right-click the file or folder you want unhidden, then click Properties.
    The Properties tab in Windows 11 File Explorer.
  5. Click General (located at the top of the Properties menu).
  6. Uncheck the Hidden checkbox.
    The unchecked Hidden checkbox in Windows 11 File Explorer.
  7. Click OK.

You’ll then be asked if you’d like to apply these changes to the folder, sub-folders, and all files within them. Make your choice, then click OK.

Keep away from Windows’ stuff

As you can see, hiding files and folders in Windows 11 is a relatively simple process that only takes a minute or two to initiate. In the event that you need to make this content visible again, reversing these customizations is just as easy as creating them in the first place.

In addition to the methods outlined above, you can also use a number of encryption utilities to safeguard your Windows data. In fact, one such tool is built right into Windows 11. Known as BitLocker, you’ll be able to use this application to encrypt entire volumes of your Windows machine. In the event that your PC is lost, stolen, or partially decommissioned, an active BitLocker can prevent others from accessing the contents of your computer.

Oh, and here’s a fun fact: Did you know that Windows 11 is also hiding files and folders from you, as well as for you? Don’t be mad at your laptop! These are vital system files that contain the building blocks for the Windows OS. In the event that you stumble upon one of these files when perusing your machine’s hidden content (it’ll probably be named something like SYSTEM or BOOT, followed by a bunch of random characters), leave it alone. Moving or deleting one of these files could result in the instant malfunctioning of your Windows 11.