Have you ever wanted to hide files right under someone’s nose? With this digital parlor trick, you can hide a folder in plain sight on your Windows 10 desktop.

While there are certainly better (and more secure) ways to hide files, this quick tip is far more delightful.

To perform this feat, you create a folder with an invisible name and no icon. To get started, right-click an empty spot on your desktop, click “New,” and then select “Folder.”

Select "Folder."

The folder appears onscreen with “New Folder” highlighted so you can rename it.

A "New Folder" on a Windows 10 desktop.

When you rename the folder, press and hold Alt as you type 255 on the numeric keypad, and then press Enter. Note that you must type the numbers on a numeric keypad, not the number keys at the top of your keyboard.

What you’re doing is typing a special character that isn’t on the keyboard with an ASCII character code. This names the folder with an invisible, nonbreaking space character that won’t appear in Windows Explorer.

A folder without a name on Windows 10.

Now that the name is invisible, we’ll take care of the icon. Right-click the folder and select “Properties.”

Click the “Customize” tab, and then click “Change Icon” in the “Folder Icons” section.

In the “Change Icon for Folder” window, scroll to the right, select the invisible icon, and then click “OK.”

Click OK again to close the properties window and voilà! Your folder icon has vanished!

A blank Windows 10 desktop.

You can still find the folder on your desktop if you drag your mouse pointer over a large area to select multiple icons. Otherwise, it remains invisible. The folder will also be invisible in File Explorer and will stay that way, even with contents inside it. (Explorer usually shows a preview of files within a folder in its icon).

If you want to hide multiple folders at once on your desktop, repeat the process above, but press Alt+255 more than once to type multiple invisible characters. Two folders can’t have the same name, so the second one will need two blank spaces.

You can repeat the same pattern with three or more folders, just increase the number of invisible spaces in the folder name each time.

RELATED: How to Hide Files and Folders on Every Operating System

This Isn’t Secure and Can Be Buggy

Obviously, this isn’t a secure way to hide files. Anyone can find the contents of an invisible folder via a system search. Someone might also accidentally discover it as he’s using the desktop.

It can be helpful if you only need to hide something temporarily (or if you just want to prank someone). If you really want to secure any files, though, you should definitely use encryption.

This trick isn’t an official Windows feature, so it might occasionally have some bugs. Sometimes, the icon might be black or appear as a faint outline, rather than being completely invisible. This might be related to the size of the icon. If the icon isn’t invisible, press Ctrl and use the scroll wheel on your mouse until you find the right size.

If you have any trouble, simply move the files in the folder to a new one, and then delete the invisible one. Or, you can try to restore the folder back to its normal state.

How to Make a Folder Visible Again

To undo the invisible trick, right-click the invisible folder and select “Properties.” Click the “Customize” tab, and then click “Change Icon.” This time, select a regular icon for the folder instead of the invisible one.

To change the name, right-click the folder and select “Rename.” Type what you want to name the folder, and then press Enter.

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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