Zip files are a great way to pack up a collection of files to send them to other people, usually in an email. At least three or four times a year, I run into someone who doesn’t know how to zip up a collection of files in Windows. I ran into three people in the last two weeks at work.
Years ago, you had to have a third party tool such as WinZip to create and open zip files. In 2001, Windows XP was released with built-in zip capabilities. Microsoft decided to call these compressed folders.
Not only is it easy to use the built in zip features in Windows, it’s also possible to password protect zip files so that others can’t open the files inside them. However, even though a zip file is password protected, you can still see a list of files inside it. I have always hated that, but I found a way around it.
Here is how to hide all of your top secret files in a zip file (or compressed folder).
First, let’s create two zip folders. You’ll see why we need two of them shortly.
To create a zip folder, right click into any folder or in an empty place on your desktop, and choose NewCompressed Folder.
Let’s choose Stuffand Top Secretas the names of the new zip files.
Now we can add some top secret files to our Stufffolder. I’m going to add a JPG picture to it here. I’ll open up Stuff.zipby double clicking it, then drag the JPG file into it.
Now let’s add the Stuffzip file to the Top Secretzip file.
Now we need to add a password to the Top Secretcompressed folder.
You’ll have to type your password in twice to confirm it.
That’s it. The next time anyone opens that zip folder, all they’ll be able to see is a file named Stuff.zip. If they try to open it or extract it, they’ll have to know the password you’ve set.
As you can see, all of the files inside the Stuff.zip are hidden. That’s why we needed two zip files.
As a final cleanup step, you can delete the older copies of Stuffand the JPG. These are safely and securely inside the Top Secretzip folder now.
These techniques will work in all versions of Windows released after XP, as well as XP itself.
Here are some other ways to use zip files:
Here are some other ways to hide files:
If you have your own special way to hide secret data, let us know in the comments below.