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Changing File Attributes

Tutorial Key Facts
Supported Operating SystemWindows XP, Vista, Server 2003, Win 7 (all versions) , Server 2008
Program VersionNot Applicable
Last Update2014/06/27
AuthorNihad Hassan

Make extra hidden files and folder by changing their attributes under Windows OS

We can change file/folder hidden attributes under windows to prevent causal user from seeing such hidden data as follow

Open DOS command and navigate to directory that holds the file/folder you want to hide as follow

Tip: you can change the current directory in MS DOS using the CD command followed by the path to the intended directory



I have a folder called ‘personal’ located at the C drive , so I have changed my command prompt to the C: drive , now I need to change the attribute of this folder to become hidden as follow


‘Personal’ is point to the folder Iam want to hide

Now, navigate to c: drive where the ‘personal’ folder is located and you will not see it

Try to go to Tools >> Folder Options >> View  and then tick the option ‘show hidden files and folders’  click apply and check whether the ‘personal’ folder has appeared in in the C drive , it still invisible.



Now, if we want to access this folder to add or delete files from it we can access it in two ways

First: click ‘Run’ and type the folder name in addition to the drive where it is located as follow


Second Method: go to my computer, select Tools >> Folder Options >> View >> and uncheck the option ‘Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)’ and click ‘Apply’ as follow


Navigate to the c drive where the ‘personal’ folder is located and you will find it as follow



Right click on your hidden folder and select ‘properties’, you will notice the hidden attribute of the folder is checked and you cannot remove it by mouse click


If you want to remove the ‘Hidden’ attribute from your folder, you need to do this through DOS prompt as follow


Go to c drive and check your folder, you will see its ‘Hidden’ attribute has been disappeared and his color has changed to become like any other ordinary folder



Now you have returned your folder as an ordinary one.

The same steps could be implemented to hide any file/folder under windows OS (7 & Vista , XP , Server 2003)

2-Renamed Files:

We can change file extension and store it inside c:WindowsSystem32 directory, for example, if we want to hide a word file called invoice.doc , we can change its name to MSDOS386.dll , System32 directory is full of DLL files and Windows by default change the ICON and default associated program used to open the file according to its  new extension, thus making it nearly impossible for casual user to discover the trick.

The only possible way to recognize renamed files is to check file signature, under Windows OS each file extension has a unique signature usually stored in the first 20 bytes of the file, we can check the original file signature of any file through opening it using notepad. For example EXE, DLL, SYS extensions have the signature (MZ) , RTF documents ({rtf1) , word files 2007 (PK••••••) and Word 2010 built with open XML format (PK••).

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