Make an Invisible Folder and Hide Files in Plain Sight

Sep 30, 2011 - 23 Comments

Make an invisible folder in Mac OS X to hide files in plain sight

Want to hide some files in plain sight? You can make a folder invisible to the eye, but not to the click with this neat trick. I learned this in 6th grade to hide files and apps from prying eyes, and despite it’s simplicity it worked to store games, movies, and pictures on school computers without anyone knowing where they were kept. Believe it or not it works, and if you have limited access to the Terminal it beats using the period method to hide folders.

  • Right-click here and save this transparent PNG file to your desktop as ‘transparent.png’
  • Go to your desktop and open “transparent.png” into Preview and hit Command+A followed by Command+C – this selects the entire files contents and copies them into your clipboard
  • Now go back to the Mac OS X desktop and hit Command+Shift+N to create a new folder, name the folder nothing by hitting the spacebar a few times
  • Now select the folder named nothing (” “) and hit Command+i to “Get Info” about the folder
  • Click on the folder icon in the upper left corner and hit Command+V to paste the previously copied transparent.png file as the folders icon

Making an invisible folder

Your folder is now invisible to the eye. In some ways this is preferable to creating a hidden folder by prepending a . in front of the name because it’s still accessible from the Finder’s GUI with a well placed mouse click, and as I mentioned before it doesn’t require the use of the Terminal to create. It’s also advantageous because it doesn’t show up if someone makes hidden files visible.

I would suggest burying this folder somewhere in an obscure place on the desktop or elsewhere to further obfuscate any attempts at finding it

Just remember the contents of the folder are not invisible, and could still be found via Spotlight or Recent Items if someone knew what to look for. To do that, you’d have to exclude the folder from Spotlight search and then clear out the Recent Items from time to time.

Here’s what such a folder will look like if you open it, notice the window bar has no name in it:

Contents of invisible folder name and icon are still visible

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Posted by: AJ in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

23 Comments

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  1. Scott Myers says:

    Cool stuff – This is great in icon view, but keep in mind that the folder is basically revealed in list view.

  2. Michael says:

    Doesent seem to work for me with Lion (10.7.1) the folder creates OK, but you can select it to open, just nothing happens

    • rascal01 says:

      Same problem here, I’m also using Lion.

      • Charlotte says:

        This happens for me too. The sad thing is, I actually already put stuff in it.

        • Charlotte says:

          Wait, I just figured out a solution to the problem! First, highlight the icon and then right click (or ctrl + click) and hold it. That way a list will pop. While still right clicking, move the mouse over to the “open” and let go. And there you have it!

    • zak says:

      Actually all u have to do is highlight it then you can click on it then open it :)

  3. HC says:

    Cmd+p didn’t work for me… use cmd+v instead.

    :)

  4. Alberto says:

    Nice trick!

  5. Amogul says:

    Another way of saying “how to hide your pron”

  6. Bakari says:

    This is a cool idea. But there a few problems. If you set your desktop view to icon view, it means you have to deselect “Show item info” in View Options in order to disguise the number of items in the invisible folder. You also can’t organize your desktop content by Kind, because that will force the invisible folder to the top, instead of being obscurely placed somewhere else on the desktop. Just wondering if there are any possible workarounds to this?

    Oh, and one way I found to easily make the invisible folder visible is to use the cursor and draw a selection around where the folder is. That way, you can click on its invisible name and open the folder. It doesn’t work for me if I just click on where the invisible folder is located.

    • Daniel Suzuki says:

      Also if you use anything but thumbnail view in folders, you can just as easily find the hidden folder through the finder.

  7. Bakari says:

    I won’t use it to really hide stuff. I find it useful for just helping keep my desktop uncluttered. I’ll use it as a quick temporary folder to store stuff.

  8. 911 says:

    I remember doing this back in the day with floppy disks. Maybe mid 90s. We had some game where you kill Barney, very violent for the time.. We all made copies of the disk (no internet), and made them invisible so if a teacher walked by they wouldn’t notice it on the desktop.

  9. softwater says:

    To avoid the problem with list view, couldn’t you put the invisible folder inside a visible one that has nothing else in it?

    When someone clicks on the visible folder, the list will look empty (though you’ll have to hide the status bar too, otherwise it’ll say ‘contents 1′.

    I can’t really see much practical application for this in terms of security, but it’s nice trick teachers could use to get kids interested in learning about how computers work.

  10. […] to hide a folder or two on a Mac? A while back we showed you how to make invisible folders and to even how to make hidden folders in Mac OS X, but now we’re going to demonstrate how to […]

  11. Fran Cotton says:

    Great trick, I’ve included it in a tutorial and linked to this. I just like a nice minimalist desktop without all the clutter. In my version I keep short file names, so it’s just to make them less obtrusive. You click on the file name to open it.

  12. Tom says:

    REally cool can fool dumb teachers with this.

  13. Grayson2234 says:

    For me it does not work.

  14. Crazy_Luv says:

    U no u can find the stuff in spotlight search right?

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