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How to Use File & Folders Attributes in Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10

The Teacher

Today, we will learn about, “Applying Read Only and Hidden Attributes to Files and Folder”, and “Understanding about Folders Path”.

Either it your Personal, or Office Computer, sometimes it gets important to hide some sensitive information from others. So, someone may not misuse or, accidently delete your important data.

Before we hide a file or folder, do remember that, the default setting in Windows 7 for hidden files and folders is, “Do not show hidden files and folders”. So when you will hide a file or folder, it will then immediately disappear from your screen. After that, you need to change the default settings of Windows 7, to see the hidden files and folders; you again have access to your hidden files and folders.

To hide a file, right-click on your file, and choose Properties, and then make a check mark on “Hidden” option, and apply the changes. As the default setting is not to show hidden files, that file will then immediately disappear from your screen.

In same way, you can hide a folder. Right-click on the folder and choose Properties. Make a check mark on “Hidden” option. If the folder is empty, then it will immediately get hidden. But if your folder contain files or sub-folders, then Window will ask you, either you want to hide this folder only, or also want to hide the sub-folders and files within.

There is a very interesting point to note down. For instance, I have “Other Documents” folder on my desktop, which contains a lot of files and sub-folders. If I hide “Other Documents” folder, then what could be the use of hiding all the files and sub-folders within. Even after hiding the folder, I cannot see the main folder, then how anyone else can access the files within? So it seems useless, if I choose “Apply changes to this folder, subfolders and files”. But it is not?

So, before I continue on this topic, let’s first learn about files and folders path. As you know that, all the programs, documents, folders, and even Windows itself is saved on your hard drive. If you open Computer, from your desktop, then you can see all the hard drive and their partitions. As for my computer, Windows is displaying, “Hard Disk Drivers (4)”. That means, I may have 4 different hard drives with 1 partition each, or it could be, 1 hard drive with 4 partitions. It does not actually shows here, that how many physical hard drives are installed on your system.

For my “C Drive”, you can see a Windows Logo Icon along with hard drive icon. It indicates that, my Windows 7 is installed on C Drive. Now, let’s move back to the Desktop. As I am saving all of my documents and folder on different places, like User Profile folder, documents, music folder, picture folder, and desktop, but in reality, everything is getting stored on my C Drive, because all these System Folders are part of Windows 7. So, unless I choose any other drive to save the data, currently everything is getting stored on my C Drive.

To understand this more clearly, I again open “Other Documents” folder from the Desktop. On the very top of the screen, you can see the same folder name within bar. It is called “The Address Bar”. If you click inside this bar, then you will have a complete address of your folder, and the exact location, where it is actually saved. First, we have the C Drive, because Windows is installed on drive C. Then we have “Users” folder. This is the actual main folder of your Profile, which you also see on your Desktop. Then you have the “Desktop” sub-folder, which is also available in your User Profile folder, and at last, the folder, you are currently working in.

If I open Computer, then C Drive, you can see the same “Users” folder. If I open it, then you have all the different profile sub-folders. If I open “Tutor” folder then you can all the same sub-folders, which are also available in your “User Profile” system folder. So both are same, but “User Profile” folder is being placed on your Desktop for easy access, so you don’t have to follow a long path to access your files.

“Tutor” is our current user, in which we are presently working. You can also see the user name on the top of your Start Menu. We will discuss in detail about “User Profiles” in our future lessons.

Let’s come back, where I left you before. So how this everything is linked to our hidden option? In my previous, “Chapter 1 – Lesson 5 – Part 3 – Start Menu and Toolbars Customization” video, I had taught you about, how to enable different toolbars on your Taskbar. Let’s again place a toolbar on our Taskbar. This toolbar is called “The Address Bar”. This is the same Address Bar, which you are seeing on top of every folder.”The Address Bar” comes to handy, when you need to access folders and internet. For instance, if I want to open a web page, then I can directly type the web address here, without opening a web browser first. I can also make a direct search on any topic, just by typing the topic and hitting Enter key. It will then open your default browser, with default search provider, and will display the result accordingly.

Further, you can also open any folder of your computer, by typing the complete path of that folder. For example, if I want to open the “Users” folder from the C drive, then I can directly type the path here, like, C:\Users.

The interesting thing about Address Bar is that, you can also open hidden folders through Address Bar. Like, we had previously hid a folder from our desktop, so to open that hidden through Address Bar; I will type the complete path of that folder. After hitting the Enter key, you will have your hidden folder on the screen.

So, the point of hiding sub-folders and files along with your main folder is that, if somehow anybody has access to your main hidden folder, he will still not be able to see the other of your folders, because they are hidden too.

To see all the hidden folders and files of your computer, you need to open Computer icon. As I had described in my previous chapter, to access the “Menu Bar”, you need to press the ALT key once. Press the ALT key, and then click on Tools menu. Click on “Folder Options”, and then click on “View” tab. Under “Advanced settings”, first make a check mark on “Always show menus”, and apply the changes. This is because, we need to access the “Menu Bar” several times during our course, and this option will make the “Menu Bar” visible permanently. Open the “Folder Options” again, and under “Hidden Files and Folders” section, click on “Show hidden files, folders, and drives”, and apply the changes. Do remember that, this option will not only make your folders visible, but all the hidden folders and files on your computer. Let’s take a look on our Desktop, and now we can see our hidden folders and files.

After you are done working with your hidden files and folders, you can again choose the “Don’t show hidden files, folders, or drives” option, to hide your data again.

If you want to permanently unhide, any particular file or folder, then again open the Properties window for the same, and uncheck the “Hidden” option.

Identification of a hidden file or folder is that, they are light in color. If you are seeing a file or folder even after hiding them, then it could be because, Show hidden files and folder option is selected.

There is one more “Attribute” in the Properties Box, which is “Read-Only”. The “Read Only” attributes only applies to an individual file or files within a folder, not to folders. Either you can make entire files within a folder “Read Only”, or you can select an individual file, and apply the “Read Only” attribute. So what actually “Read Only” attribute does? If you open the same file, and after making some changes, when you will save the file, instead of saving the file, Window will show you “Save As” dialog box. You have to type a new name to save your file, and original file will remain intact. It is a very useful option for your files, when you want to prevent your colleagues, to compose any unwanted changes in your files. But do remember that, Read Only files can still be deleted.


The Teacher / Author & Editor

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