This brief tutorial on hiding content applies to Windows 95, 98, and 98SE. Although this method may be old hat or even irrelevant to the more experienced Windows users, I have found it useful on a number of occasions, and therefore think it’s worthwhile to share here at Perishable Press for future reference.
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.
How to hide content
The method is actually quite simple. Open a DOS window and navigate to a directory in which you wish to create the hidden folder, and then carefully follow these steps:
- At the DOS prompt, type “
md” (notice the space after md).
- After the space, press the
Altkey and simultaneously type
255using the numeric keypad. This should cause the cursor to advance one space, as if you had pressed the space bar.
- After entering
Alt+255, release the
- 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 the name appearing as an underscore (
_) in Windows.
- 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.
Adding more hidden 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 the following command:
copy pancakes.gif c:\path\"Alt+255"test
Refer to the articles linked in the related resources 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!