Google Drive, like all cloud storage services, often contains a lot of files one would like to keep private. That’s why no one can see anything you own unless you share it with them. But, what if you want to hide files in Google Drive that are part of a shared folder? You kind of can’t but still can. It’s complicated. Read more about it below.
How do I hide files in the Google Drive app?
To our knowledge, you can’t hide files on Google Drive in a way you can hide local files on your Android — behind a PIN code or in a special folder. If you own a file, you can simply remove it from the Shared folder or move it to a private folder.
If anyone else has access to your Drive and you want to hide files from them, consider creating another Google Account for confidential endeavors. At the end of the day, it’s free. Or you can, in hope that the other side is not aware, manipulate versions to conceal the original file.
There are some browser extensions that will help you hide Google Drive files, like Hidden Folder (found here). But, we’re not really fans of giving extensions access to our storage. After all, your opinion might differ.
Change the file version in order to conceal it in Google Drive shared folder
If you have Editor rights and don’t own the file or the containing folder, you can’t delete the file. An option that you have on shared files (files you don’t own but have the Editor privilege) is to use versions management to change the original file. This will render the original file hidden in plain sight.
However, there’s an obvious downside as the original file (now replaced with a bogus copy) and your manipulation with versions and file formats are visible to the Owner or other Editor/Editors. They just need to look. The old (original) version used to be deleted after 30 days but now you have an option to keep it forever.
To do this, you’ll need to use Google Drive on the web, preferably on your PC. But, with the Desktop site mode (browser > 3-dots menu > check the Desktop site box), you can do it on your Android, as well.
Here’s how to change the file version in order to conceal it in Google Drive shared folder:
- Open Google Drive on the web, here.
- Right-click on the shared file you want to hide and select Manage versions.
- Click Upload new version.
- Select any local file you want. Ideally, you would use the same file format as the original file to make it less obvious. If it’s a document, make sure that this is a document, if it’s a JPEG or PNG image, use an image, etc. Also, this applies only to files uploaded to Google Drive, not the files created in Google Docs or Google Sheets that are integrated with Google Drive. You can’t change their versions.
- Now, just click on the 3-dots menu next to the original file and check the Keep forever box.
- Close the dialog box and name the new file the same as the original file.
That’s it. You can’t access the original file on Drive but you can download it. You can, of course, restore it. Just right-click on the sham file, choose to Manage versions, and delete the fake version. This will restore the original version.
Hopefully, this was helpful. This is the closest to hiding shared files in Google Drive we are aware of. Thank you for reading and tell us if you know a better way in the comments section below.