If you share a computer with others, you might have a need to keep some documents confidential. There are several ways to do this, depending on which version of Microsoft® Windows® your computer is running. If you're unsure which Windows system your computer is running, read here for more information. 

You should always set up an account for each person who shares a single computer. This helps everyone access the programs and data that they want.

How to password protect a folder

Using a password to protect a folder means that you need to enter a password to see the list of documents in the folder. You can also password-protect individual files either in a password-protected folder or in a folder without password protection. The procedure is the same for files and folders.

Windows 7

  1. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder you want to password-protect. Right-click on the folder.
  2. Select Properties from the menu. On the dialog that appears, click the General tab.
  3. Click the Advanced button, then select Encrypt content to secure data. Click OK. Your Windows username and password will be used.
  4. Double-click the folder to ensure you can access it.
Password protecting folders.

Windows 8 and Windows 10

It is not possible to use Windows to password-protect a folder in Windows 8 or Windows 10. You will need to download third-party software or use a zipped folder. If you elect to use third-party software, be sure you download it from a reputable source.

Zipped folder

Password-protecting a zipped file is a good solution if your version of Windows does not support password protection. If you put the files you'd like to protect in a zip file, you can then apply a password.

  1. In Windows Explorer, highlight and right-click on the files you would like to put into a zipped file.
  2. Select  Send to, then Zip folder (compressed). Follow the prompts to name and save the folder.
  3. Double-click the zipped file, then select File and Add Password.
  4. Fill out the requested information, then click Apply.

How to hide a folder

When you hide a folder or file in Windows, the folder or file does not appear in the directory list, unless the Don't show hidden files, folders, or drives setting is unchecked.

Windows 7, 8, and 10

  1. Right-click on the file or folder that you want to hide. Select Properties.
  2. Click the General tab, under the Attributes section, check Hidden.
  3. Click Apply.

If the file or folder remains visible in the directory, you will need to enable another setting.

  1. Open Windows Explorer and click the File tab.
  2. Select Options, then select the View tab.
  3. Select Don't show hidden files, folders, or drives under the heading Hidden files and folders.

To see your hidden files or folder, repeat the instructions above, but click Show hidden files, folders, and drives.


Although Microsoft has taken away the ability to password-protect a folder, you can still keep your confidential information private by using either a password-protected zipped folder or hiding files and folders so they don't appear in the directory list.

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