Change File Attributes, Create super hidden private files & folders in Windows using attrib.exe

Attrib.exe is a Windows operating system file located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder. It allows you to display or change file attributes. The function of the attrib command is to set, change or remove such file attributes Using the attrib command, you can make files read-only, archive, system and hidden.

What are File Attributes

A file attribute is metadata that is associated with any  file on your computer and describes or keeps track of information like when the file was created or modified, file size, file extensions and file permissions.

The Windows operating system offers four attributes for files and folders. They are:

  • Read-only – r : These are readable, but cannot be changed
  • System – s : For use by the operating system and not normally displayed in a directory listing
  • Hidden – h : They are not displayed in a directory listing by default
  • Archive – a : For backing up or copying files

How to change File Attributes using attrib.exe

These attributes can be set using [+] or removed using [-] commands.

To see the file attributes, you have to right-click on the file or folder and select Properties. In Windows 8, Windows 7 or Windows Vista, you will see only the Read-only and Hidden check boxes. To see the Archive check box, you have to click Advanced.

file attributes 400x313 Change File Attributes, Create super hidden private files & folders in Windows using attrib.exe

If you wish to see the syntax for the Attrib command, type attrib /? at the command prompt and hit Enter.

cmd attrib 1 600x430 Change File Attributes, Create super hidden private files & folders in Windows using attrib.exe

Create a super hidden private file or folder

As a Windows end-user, we can use this feature to create a hidden private file or folder on our Windows computer. Lets say you have a normal folder named Private on your desktop, and you want to make it hidden.

To do so, open command prompt, and type the following in it and hit Enter. Here ACK is my Username, so make sure you use yours in its place.

attrib +s +h C:\Users\ACK\Desktop\Private

This will make the folder a ‘system’ folder AND a ‘hidden’ folder. However, if you use “-s +h” it will make the folder an ordinary hidden folder only.

hidden folders 400x106 Change File Attributes, Create super hidden private files & folders in Windows using attrib.exe

To see it, you have to via Folder Options, check Show hidden files, folders and drives and uncheck Hide protected operating system files. Or via CMD you can simply use “-s -h” instead of the above command.

folder hidden options 329x400 Change File Attributes, Create super hidden private files & folders in Windows using attrib.exe

Ofcourse this method is not fool-proof, but its good enough a way to keep your folders secret and hidden from most prying eyes. If you are looking for more, you can check out this free file and folder encryption software.

Make a list of all hidden system files and folders

In the rare eventuality that you forget the name of the folder, but know the location – or vice versa, you can run the following command.

attrib C:\*.* /s|find “A  SH”>C:\hiddensystemfiles.txt&notepad C:\hiddensystemfiles.txt

This will output the list of all hidden system folders on your C drive.

hidsysfiles 400x273 Change File Attributes, Create super hidden private files & folders in Windows using attrib.exe

You can of course modify the syntax suitable to search for only select locations also.

File attribute changer freeware

If you are looking for a freeware tool to change file and folder attributes and propertie quickly, you can check out Attribute Changer. It is a tool for power users to change all kind of file and folder attributes, date, time and even NTFS compression. Exif date and time information stored in digital images are also easily altered with Attribute Changer.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse aka HappyAndyK is an end-user Windows enthusiast, a Microsoft MVP in Windows, since 2006, and the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com. Please create a System Restore Point before trying out any software & be careful about any third-party offers while installing freeware. Add me on Google+.
  • Muliyama

    Great article – well done, Anand!

  • luis matoso

    A GREAT, GREAT tip. Tank you.

  • bomba

    cmd says FIND: parameter format not correct
    (in italian -> FIND: formato del parametro non corretto)
    why?

  • heistmeister

    if it shows parameter format not correct, the file maybe contains of spaces
    For example : I want to make folder “Wordpress coba” to be super hidden.
    So in cmd, I must type the directory enclosed by quotes.

    attrib +s +h “D:Wordpress coba”

    If the folder or file name doesn’t consist of spaces, you can type the directory file/folder without quotes

    attrib +s +h D:Games

    It should work now :D

  • Mashuk

    cmd says “file not found”
    but the file name doesn’t contain any space and i type the location correctly…… :(

  • Anonymous

    For those with formatting or file not found issues, right click your folder and MAKE SURE ITS UNHIDDEN AND NOT CHECKED AS READ ONLY. I had to do it five times before i figured out the problem.

    Format should be as follows (for super hidden):
    attrib +s +h “C:UsersUsernameDesktopFoldername”

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