Hide Content on Windows 98SE

This brief tutorial on hiding content applies to Windows 95, 98, and 98SE. Although this method may be old hat or even irrelevant, I have found it useful on a number of occasions, and therefore found it worthwhile to include here for the sake of prosperity.

On Windows 98SE (and others), it is possible to create a folder that is both listed and inaccessible via the Windows file system. Using an old DOS trick involving an obscure character reference, we create a folder that, when clicked on via Windows, produces a "The File does not Exist" error message, thus denying any access. This "hidden" folder is completely accessible via DOS, and functions as any other "regular" folder. In Windows, the folder will appear with an underscore preceding its given name. For example, using this method to create a hidden folder named "test" will produce a folder that appears as "_test" when viewed via Windows.

The method is actually quite simple. Open a DOS window and navigate1 to a directory in which you wish to create the hidden folder, and then carefully follow these steps:

  1. At the DOS prompt, type "md " (notice the space after md).
  2. After the space, press the Alt key and simultaneously type 255 using the numeric keypad. This should cause the cursor to advance one space, as if you had pressed the space bar.
  3. After entering "Alt+255", release the Alt key.
  4. Immediately following the "space" created by "Alt+255", type in a name for the folder, or leave it blank for no name. [ Note: leaving the folder name blank will result in a folder name appearing as an underscore (_)in Windows. ]
  5. After entering a file name, press "Enter" to create the folder.

After creating the hidden folder, navigate to the folder in Windows and attempt to gain access. You should receive the error message mentioned above. This is great, because the whole point of this exercise is to create a folder that is inaccessible via Windows for the purpose of "hiding" files and other content.

To add files to a hidden folder that you have named "test", open a DOS window and navigate to the folder using cd path\"Alt+255"test (the "Alt+255" represents actual keystrokes – do not include any quotes). To add a file called "pancake" to the hidden directory, enter copy pancakes.gif c:\path\"Alt+255"test. Refer to our article, Basic DOS Commands, for more information regarding these and many other DOS commands.

Remember, the hidden folder is by no means secure — it is openly available to anyone with a cursory knowledge of DOS. Fortunately, 99.9% of people either lack basic DOS skills or would not think of looking for a file beginning with a "Alt+255" prefix. Happy hiding!

References