How to: Hide Files on Any Phone or Computer

 

 

 

By David Nield of Gizmodo

If you’ve got something you want to hide away, then you’ve got plenty of options on Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS—options that we’ll run through here. Even if the kids or a stranger should get access to your devices somehow, these files will stay hidden from view and locked away.

Before we get started, though, we should note that while the solutions below will provide a measure of privacy from a casual user who nabs your device, they aren’t all necessarily going to protect your files from a hacker or someone else with expertise.

 

Android

When it comes to files on mobile devices, those files are usually photos or videos—your other files are likely to be stored in the cloud, not on your device. To hide an image in Google Photos for Android, long-press on it then tap the menu button (three vertical dots) and pick Archive. The photo can still be dug out of the archive, but it does give your sensitive photos some level of protection from the casual browser.

If you’re on a Samsung phone, the default gallery app does a bit of a better job at keeping any photos or videos you want private kept safe. Select the photos and videos you want to hide, tap the menu button (three vertical dots), then pick Move to Secure Folder—enter the folder PIN, and the content gets moved over. No one else can get into that Secure Folder without the PIN.

For something a bit more comprehensive, try Keepsafe: It creates a PIN-protected digital vault on your phone for those photos and videos that you really don’t want other people coming across. Getting files into the vault is easy, or you can take your photos and videos from inside Keepsafe instead.

Also worthy of a mention is Vaulty, which works in a similar way but makes the process of getting photos and videos in and out of your digital locker even easier. Remember that if you’re using Google Photos as your gallery, you’ll still need to delete the originals, otherwise they’ll just get shown from the cloud (which the likes of Keepsafe and Vaulty don’t touch).

File Hide Expert covers any type of file and is very straightforward to use—it simply gives you access to the file and folder structure on your phone, lets you select the content you want hidden, and then hides it. The interface is rather rudimentary, but if you want something basic that works for any type of file, it’s a good option.

There is actually another trick you can use on Android using a file manager like ES File Explorer: Put an empty text file called .nomedia inside any folder with images you don’t want to show up in the default gallery app (though they’ll still appear in the file manager). In fact Android will ignore any folder that starts with a period. It’s a rather fiddly solution, but it might suit some of you.

IOS

The iOS file system is even more locked down than Android of course, so you’re unlikely to have files floating around that you don’t want people to see that aren’t photos or videos. There is the new Files app, that shows your iCloud Drive files (if you’ve got any), but there are no options for hiding files here.

You can however hide photos and videos from the iOS Photos app to keep them away from prying eyes that aren’t yours: Open the file in question, tap the Share button (bottom left), then choose Hide. That removes the photo or video from Moments, Years, and Collections, though someone could still browse to the Hidden album in the Albums section of the app, so it’s not all that secure.

We’ve already spoken about hiding photos and videos in Google Photos, and the process is the same for Google Photos for iOS. Tap and hold on one or more files, tap the menu button (three horizontal dots), and choose Archive. This hides the pictures or clips from the front screen of the app, though they can still be found from the Archive entry in the menu (and still show up in albums and search).

One other option is to put photos inside Notes (though this doesn’t work for videos). First you need to set up a password in the Notes section of the iOS Settings app, then you can open any note, tap the Share button (top right) and choose Lock Note. You’ll also need to remove the photo you’ve added from the main Photos app.

If you need to hide files from specific apps, your best bet is looking inside that app to see what options are available. Dropbox, for example, can be passcode protected from its internal settings screen: Tap Account then the cog icon, and choose Passcode Lock to prevent anyone from getting into your files.

We’ve come across a number of handy third-party options too, including Private Photos Calculator and Private Photo Vault, which protect your sensitive snaps and clips with a PIN code. You can capture photos and videos inside the apps, or import them from the Camera Roll, but if you take the latter option you also need to them delete the pictures from the iOS Photos app.

Windows

Windows has a file hiding tool built right into it, as you might already know: Right-click on any file or folder, choose Properties, then tick the box marked Hidden and click OK. That’s it—your chosen file or folder is no longer visible in File Explorer.

Unless the person who’s gained access to your computer is clever enough to display hidden files, that is. The setting can be toggled right from the View tab of the ribbon menu—the Hidden items entry on the right. You can set files and folders to be hidden from this menu too, via the Hide selected items button.

If you think that’s enough protection to foil any would-be lurkers—that they won’t know Windows well enough to display hidden files—then you’re already all set. On the other hand, if you want to take your hiding file techniques to the next level, you’ll need some help from a third-party app, and there are quite a few to pick from.

Of the ones we’ve tested, Wise Folder Hider Free impressed us the most with its ease-of-use and feature set. You can just drag and drop folders on top of the program interface, and they disappear from File Explorer as if by magic. A password is then required to get into the application. If you want encryption as well, you can upgrade to the Pro version for $19.95.

We were also impressed by My Lockbox, which is also available in free and Pro versions (the latter lets you protect an unlimited number of folders). Again, one password protects access to the program, and it’s perfect for just hiding a single folder away rather than a bunch of files or folders.

Another option is to wrap up all the files you want to hide away in a compressed archive, and then put a password on that archive that blocks unauthorized access. 7-Zip is one free tool that can do this for you, though someone else could still see and delete the archive unless you added one of the hiding options we mentioned above.

MacOS

When it comes to Mac computers, the cleanest and simplest native option is to use the Terminal app, which you can launch from Spotlight (Cmd+Space). Type “chflags hidden file-or-folder-path” then Enter to hide something, and “chflags nohidden file-or-folder-path” and Enter to bring it back. If you like you can type out the command then drag and drop a file or folder into the Terminal window before hitting Enter (just remember the path so you can bring it back).

Various third-party options will take care of the task for you as well. Hide Folders does exactly what it says on the tin, and you simply drag and drop in files and folders from Finder and then click the Hide button. Anyone who launches Hide Folders can see what you’ve hidden though, so you might want to add password protection, which is a $20 upgrade for the Pro version.

Secret Folder does almost exactly the same job, though the interface is a little cleaner and easier on the eyes. Again, you can simply drag and drop folders into the program window to hide them, then toggle the Invisible/Visible switch accordingly. The application costs $20, but a free trial is available.

Hider is a more comprehensive solution that’s again is priced at $20 and again lets you give the software a trial run for free. In addition to hiding selected files and folders, your data is also encrypted, and you’ve got some useful extras thrown in as well (like support for external hard drives). Files can be shown or hidden using simple toggle switches, with everything protected by a master password.

If it’s particular apps that you want to block, then Cisdem AppCrypt might fit the bill for you. You can specify apps (or websites) to password protect, so anyone who gains access to your Mac won’t be able to run programs containing information you don’t want seen. It costs $20 a year, with a free trial available.

Going back to photos, if all you want to do is hide images and video clips, you can use the same options (with the same caveats) as we talked about for iOS. From the Photos app, right-click on an image and choose Hide Photo. This removes it from the main photo stream, but considering the Hidden album is only a click away on the left-hand navigation pane, it’s not the most effective solution.

 

How do keep your private stuff private on your device(s)? Tell us in the comments below!

How to: clear the cache on your iPhone or iPad

 

 

Deleting junk files, memory hogs and unwanted cache items is a great way to give your iPhone (or iPad) a spring-clean speed boost and get it running faster than ever.

by Lucy Hattersley of MacWorld UK

The iPhone and iPad are user-friendly devices, but iOS still gets clogged up over time with unwanted files and memory hogs. This can slow your device down.

In this article, we’re going to look at how to clean out all the junk and memory-clogging files on your iPhone and get it to run a bit faster.

Giving your Apple device a spring clean and removing unwanted files will improve its performance, especially if it is an older model. But clearing out the memory also helps you get more out of iOS by enabling you to focus on the things you do need and use.
Apple iOS devices may not need the same level of maintenance as macOS (or, heaven forbid, Windows), but they still need some attention to run at optimum speed.
(For more general iOS speed tips, take a look at our broader tutorial: How to speed up a slow iPhone or How to speed up a slow iPad)

Step 1: Delete the Safari cache on iPhone or iPad

We’re going to start by clearing out the caches. Note that this will log you out of any websites you’ve signed into. Follow these steps to clear out the Safari cache on your iPhone:

1 Open the Settings app, and scroll down to the fifth group of options
(with Mail at the top). Tap Safari.
2 Scroll down again and tap ‘Clear History and Website Data’.
3 Tap ‘Clear History and Data’.

Step 2: Clean app data on iPhone or iPad

Data stored by other apps can be cleaned out using the Usage option in settings.

Follow these steps:

1 Tap Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage.
2 In the top section (Storage), tap Manage Storage.
3 Select an app that’s taking up a lot of space.
4 Take a look at the entry for Documents & Data. If this is taking up more
than 500MB, it’s worth deleting and reinstalling the app to clear the space.
5 Tap Delete App, then head to the App Store to re-download it. This will be
a clean install without all the data and documents.

 

Step 3: Free up memory by restarting your iPhone or iPad

For the most part, iOS will manage your memory effectively without you having to do anything. But we do find that restarting an iPhone occasionally is a good way to clear the memory and ensure that important apps have enough to use.
Here’s how to restart your iPhone:

1 Hold down the Sleep/Wake button (on the top or at the top-right of
the device) until “slide to power off” appears.
2 Swipe the power off slider.
3 Wait until the device has fully powered down, then press and hold
the Sleep/Wake button to turn on the iPhone.

Doing this on a regular basis used to be vital on an iPhone, and it’s still useful on older models.

Step 4: Download a cleaner app for iPhone or iPad

There are various apps available that can help you quickly get rid of files you don’t need. These apps are normally downloaded onto your Mac or PC, which you’ll then need to connect your iPhone (or iPad) to in order for it to work its magic.

A cleaner app is normally the fastest and most effective way to make space on your iPhone, but if you want a full-featured one they usually cost up to £20. That said, it’s better than having to cough up for a whole new phone when you run out of space!

PhoneClean

PhoneClean by iMobie can be used to remove junk files from iOS. Follow these steps:

1 Attach the iPhone to your Mac using the USB Cable.
2 Open PhoneClean and click Scan.
3 Once the scan is complete, click Clean.

Some PhoneClean features, including Photo Caches, are only available in the Pro version. This costs $19.99 (around £16) per year. Read next: How to jailbreak an iPhone.

iMyFone Umate
Much like PhoneClean by iMobie, iMyFone Umate for Mac and Windows can be used to quickly and easily remove temporary and junk files from your iOS device. Read next: 

How to update iOS on an iPhone.

1 Connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC.
2 Open iMyFone Umate and click Scan on the Home tab.
3 Clear Junk files and Temporary files to clear a lot of space on your
iPhone (4GB on our test device).
4 You can also clear out any large files (videos and so on) and see, at a
glance, apps that take up a lot of space. These can also be deleted
fairly easy using iMyFone Umate.

There’s a free version if you want to try the application out for yourself. The paid version, which sets you back $19.95 (around £16), adds some more advanced features.

**Please Note: This article is from Great Britain. The Apps mentioned are available online; not in the App Store.

What’s your favorite method for freeing up Space on your phone? Tell us in the comments below!

App of the Week: Everything you need to know about the new Files app on iOS 11

 


By Charlie Sorrell of CNET

Files is the new Finder app for iOS 11, and it’s already about a million times better than the basic file-picker it replaces — iCloud Drive. Files is a central place from which to access all the files on your iDevice, and in iCloud. You can find, organize, open, and delete all the files on your device, in iCloud, and on 3rd-party storage services like Dropbox. And because this is iOS 11, Files supports all the fancy new multitasking features like drag-and-drop.

So, lets take a look at what it can do:

 

Of all the new features in iOS 11, Files is still one of the most beta. It’s buggy, laggy, and is missing several of the features shown in the 2017 WWDC keynote. Right now, it doesn’t even have an entry in the Settings app. But despite this, its already more than useful.

FILES’ MAIN SCREEN

I call it the “main” screen, but it’s really Files’ only screen. down the left is a list of sources, and on the right you see the folders and files. Right now the available locations are On My iPad and iCloud Drive. You can also drag any folder to the Favorites section, and there’s another section for tags. These tags are the same ones that you may already use in the Finder on the Mac, and, like everything in iCloud, they sync between Mac and iOS. In the future, you will also be able to access Dropbox, Box, and other file storage services.

GETTING AROUND

Tapping on a source in the sidebar opens up that source. You can then tap on any folder to open that. There’s a persistent search bar at the top of this view, and while it doesn’t yet search within files themselves, it will find files inside subfolders. This lets you quickly find a file if you know its name.

Pulling down on the screen in this view reveals more options. You can create a new folder, sort by Name, Date, Size, or Tags, and toggle between and icon view and list view. At any time you can drag a file and drop it in another folder, or drag it onto a tag to apply that tag. You can also hit the home button and drag the files onto another app (or into an app open in Split View).


You can also drag multiple documents at one time, using multitouch. To do this, you start dragging one file, then tap any other file to add it to the pile under your other finger. This works across multiple locations, so you can keep dragging as you tap to visit many folders and tags, tapping files as you go, until you have everything you want. And once you

Be careful, though. There’s no way to quit an operation once you’ve started. You might find yourself dragging a fingerful of files and realize you’ve gotten the wrong files, or just changed your mind. Workaround include keeping a tag just for this, and dragging them onto it. Nothing will be moved, just tagged. Or you can tap the home button and drop the files on an open space in your home screen. Fortunately, files are copied, not moved, so you can safely delete the erroneously-copied files and leave the originals untouched.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH YOUR FILES?

File support is a little inconsistent so far. Some files can be viewed and even edited inside Files. Others will open in their parent app once tapped. Because there’s no way to tell whether you’ll see a preview, or if tapping will launch another app, its all a little frustrating. You can find out more about a file by long-pressing it to bring up a popover, similar to the ones that appear when you select text on iOS. Here the options are Copy, Rename, Move, Share, Tags, Info, and Delete.

Here’s a quick list of what I’ve found out about different file types

  • Images can be previewed, and marked up using the standard markup tools in iOS 11. To remove your graffiti, use the erase tool. A folder of images can be swiped through ands viewed.
  • Text files can be previewed, but only if their parent app isn’t installed. For instance, I tapped a text file created with Byword and it launched in Byword. After I deleted Byword, those files could be previewed in Files instead.
  • Movies can be previewed. I (almost)successfully watched an AVI and a MOV file, although they both stuttered and barely played.
  • GarageBand files open in GarageBand
  • Music Memos files, in the iCloud Drive, are played inside Files.
  • ZIP file contents can be previewed, as if they were in a folder. You cannot zip or unzip.

SHARING

There is a mysterious Sharing feature, which lets you share a file and edit it with other people. Right now it seems that you can invite people to share, but they can’t actually edit the document. I shared a text file with our own Luke Dormehl, and it was added to his iCloud Drive, but he was unable to edit it.

Still, the option to manage collaborations from Files is an interesting one.

Files is definitely a beta app, with a long way to go. Even on an iPad Pro it’s sluggish (although search is instant), and lacks a lot of basic features (there’s no way too sort by file kind, for example). But despite that it’s already pretty great. If nothing else, Files on iOS is an easy and reliable way to access the files in your Mac’s Desktop and Documents folders.

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