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I have a folder of sensitive pictures. Viewed in any of File Explorer's icon views, the contents of this folder are previewed to the user before the folder has been opened. I'm looking for Windows 7 software that will allow me to password-protect the folder.

The program must:

  • Prevent the folder from previewing its contents
  • Prompt for a password when opening the folder
  • Keep the folder itself visible (no forcing it to become hidden- or system-only)

I don't think I need an advanced level of security - just enough to stop prying eyes from over the shoulder or anyone that manages to get onto my logged-in machine whilst I'm away from it.

  • Hashim, did you end up with an answer? – DankyNanky Jan 6 '18 at 15:10
  • I would create a separate partition and use BitLocker. – onurcano Feb 18 at 20:24
  • @ThisIsNotMyRealName No I didn't. None of the current answers satisfy the criteria of allowing me to encrypt individual folders in a filesystem. To my understanding, drive- or partition-level solutions would require removal of the data from the organisation of my filesystem, and that's not an option. – Hashim Feb 19 at 0:48
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Compressing the folder using a free tools such as 7zip seems like it would work. Add a password.

Folder will have a visible icon, but any attempt to look inside will require a password.

Good luck.

  • Clever answer - perfectly satisfies - though does add an extra step - seems like gzip would be the way to go here so it could be in place – dgo Nov 22 '16 at 2:31
  • 1
    This works, but it is not very handy on everyday use: to open: Right click, Extract folder, Enter password, Click to enter the folder. Then at the end of the modifications of the files inside, Go outside of the folder, Right click, Compress, Find the right tab, find the "password protect" option, re-enter password, etc. This option is not handy for example for everyday use, example : write personal notes in a .TXT file inside a password-protected folder. – Basj Feb 16 at 14:43
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I can suggest a few options that will meet your requirements (or partially). To clarify:

  • My answer will meet your requirement of: needing a password to view the data
  • My answer will not keep the "folder" visible; it will make the encrypted disk/file visible.

Firstly, Symantec PGP Disk Encryption was the application I utilized in the past to perform data encryption. This would encrypt all the data, and would force a password to mount the "disk" into memory to view the content. There were native encryption tools such as TrueCrypt which performed a similar function (however has now been discontinued).

There are many alternative options, such as VeraCrypt you can use to make encrypted disks.

My second option (and my personally preferred tool) is AxCrypt. AxCrypt is an easy-to-use tool that will encrypt the content of a file (not folder) and replace the icon with the application logo.

GUI Example

Decrypting your data easily:

Decrypt Data

The following are features that really set it apart from all other file encryption tools, commercial as well as free:

  1. Double-click to edit/view with any application.
  2. Automatic re-encryption after modification.
  3. Absolutely no user configuration necessary or possible before use.
  4. Open source under GNU General Public License.
  5. 12 languages in one executable distribution.
  6. Extensive command-line interface for scripting and programming.

Source: Axantum Features Page

This tool utilizes:

  1. AES encryption with 128-bit keys.
  2. Edit an encrypted document directly with double-click.

You can view their security here.

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An industry-level solution is Symantec File Share Encryption:

[it] allows users and groups to automatically or manually encrypt files and folders on laptops, desktops, and file servers for secure file sharing. Files and folders can be automatically encrypted based on policy or manually using a simple drag-and-drop interface.

The product page contains a trial and a datasheet.

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