If you can hide them where prying eyes won’t look, it’s the same. A hidden location. So, how do you hide files on your Mac? Offhand, I can think of three ways to keep your valuable files away from others. One is free. One is almost free. Others are complex and expensive.
Where Are Your Valuable Files?
Your Mac has files all over the place that you don’t want others to see. Hiding files on the Mac can be easy or messy. You choose. The easy and free way is to use the Mac’s built-in FileVault 2. I’m not advocating this as my cheap and easy peazy solution, but it works.
FileVault 2 uses full disk, XTS-AES 128 encryption on your Mac’s disk drive.
That means everything gets encrypted and password protected. Good, right? Cheap, right?
Sure, but if you forget that password, you and your data are hosed. Worse, anyone with access to your Mac right after you’re done gets access to whatever files are on your Mac.
Let’s move along. Nothing to see here. Got anything easier, less potentially troublesome, and with just enough security to keep the cats from viewing those risqué YouTube movies you’re collecting?
Free File Hiding. Period.
This is so easy. Your Mac is built on a Unix foundation. Simply add a period to the front of the name of any file or folder and—poof. Magic happens. Said file or folder becomes invisible. Try it. See? It doesn’t work.
Mac OS X is so smart it doesn’t want you to do that. But, in reality, it’s a time honored way of hiding files. Your Mac has a bunch of hidden files with the period in front of the name.
What you need is a Mac app that lets you put a period in front of the file name. That would be the free and not-so-free app named Hide Folders for Mac. It hides folders and files inside the old fashioned way. Out of sight, out of mind.
Just like James Bond’s invisible car, if someone is looking for files you don’t want them to see, well, it’ll be difficult to find them because they’re invisible.
Just drag files and folders onto Hide Folders, and click the Hide button. Done. You can even make it difficult for someone else to use Hide Folders.
The commercial Pro version comes with a few extra features, including password protection (just in case your prying eyes relatives or friends are smart).
Hide Folders keeps track of your now invisible files and folders (after all, if others can’t see them, then you can’t see them) so they’re easy for you to find when you need them.
To be fair, there are plenty of Mac apps that will make visible those invisible files on your Mac, but that’s putting crooks, criminals, nosey neighbors, and your spouse into Pauley Perrette cyber sleuth mode, which isn’t likely to happen.