An Easy Way to Hide Files and Directories in Linux

Do you occasionally share your Linux desktop machine with family members, friends or perhaps with colleagues at your workplace, then you have a reason to hide certain private files as well as folders or directories. The question is how can you do this?

In this tutorial, we will explain an easy and effective way to hide files and directories and view hidden files/directories in Linux from the terminal and GUI.

As we’ll see below, hiding files and directories in Linux is so simple.

How to Hide Files and Directories in Linux

To hide a file or directory from the terminal, simply append a dot . at the start of its name as follows using the mv command.

$ ls
$ mv mv sync.ffs_db .sync.ffs_db
$ ls
Hide File in Linux Terminal

Hide File in Linux Terminal

Using GUI method, the same idea applies here, just rename the file by adding a . at the start of its name as shown below.

Hide File in Linux Using File Manager

Hide File in Linux Using File Manager

Once you have renamed it, the file will still be seen, move out of the directory and open it again, it will be hidden thereafter.

How to View Hide Files and Directories in Linux

To view hidden files, run the ls command with the -a flag which enables viewing of all files in a directory or -al flag for long listing.

$ ls -a
OR
$ ls -al
View Hidden Files in Linux Terminal

View Hidden Files in Linux Terminal

From a GUI file manager, go to View and check the option Show Hidden Files to view hidden files or directories.

View Hidden File Using File Manager

View Hidden File Using File Manager

How to Compress Files and Directories with a Password

In order to add a little security to your hidden files, you can compress them with a password and then hide them from a GUI file manager as follows.

Select the file or directory and right click on it, then choose Compress from the menu list, after seeing the compression preferences interface, click on “Other options” to get the password option as shown in the screenshot below.

Once you have set the password, click on Create.

Compress Files with Password in Linux

Compress Files with Password in Linux

From now on, each time anyone wants to open the file, they’ll be asked to provide the password created above.

Enter Password to View Files

Enter Password to View Files

Now you can hide the file by renaming it with a . as we explained before.

That’s it for now! In this tutorial, we described how to easily and effectively hide files and directories and view hidden files/directories in Linux from the terminal and GUI file manager. Make use of the feedback form below to share any thoughts with us.

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Aaron Kili

Aaron Kili is a Linux and F.O.S.S enthusiast, an upcoming Linux SysAdmin, web developer, and currently a content creator for TecMint who loves working with computers and strongly believes in sharing knowledge.

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10 Responses

  1. Mitch says:

    What Linux distro, desktop environment, and terminal are you using in this?

  2. Mark Stephen says:

    Hiding files in Linux was not as easy as it looks. I really like your process to delivering that idea. your idea completely helps me…

  3. ghost74 says:

    Hello mate it is not append a dot the word should be “prepend” so that it’s​ easily understood by all

  4. Keith says:

    Appending a . may hide from ls, but it’s not really hidden from other users if they can perform ls -a. And password protecting a compressed file offers minimal security, as they can still read the file, and try to crac it.

    If you really want to hide files or folders from other users, you need to place them in a directory and chmod said_directory with 700. Other users can see that you have a directory named said_directory, but the will have no permission to view anything inside, truly hiding those things you don’t want them to see.

    • Aaron Kili says:

      @Keith

      This is true, we’ll include this in the article. Many thanks for this handy tip.

    • Tim D says:

      In case anyone’s interested, I wrote a couple functions to help quickly lock and unlock folders using chmod 700 method above:

      #————————————————————–#
      lockit() {
      sudo chown root:root $1
      sudo chmod 700 $1
      }

      unlockit() {
      sudo chown dmitri:dmitri $1
      sudo chmod 770 $1
      }
      #————————————————————–#

      You can then lock from the terminal:

      $ lockit path/to/dir_or_file
      

      In order to make your locked directory accessible again, run this from the terminal:

      $ unlockit path/to/dir_or_file
      

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