Recently a reader told me that she wanted to keep a journal on her computer, but she was a little concerned about the kids seeing it, so she wanted to know if there is a way to password protect a folder.
You can't really password protect a Windows folder, but you have a number of alternatives. There are shareware programs that offer this feature and you can search for them on the big shareware download sites.
Or you may not need shareware. Depending on the software you use to create the journal, you may also be able to use a password feature within it. For example, Microsoft Word lets you add a password to a file. The kids could still see the file sitting on the hard disk, but they couldn't open it without the password.
To add a password in Word 2000 for example, choose File|Save As. In the Tools menu of the Save As dialog box, click General Options. You'll see an area where you can enter a password to open the file.
Parsons Technology also made a program called Daily Journal that's easy to use. At some point, Parsons was bought out by Broderbund, but Daily Journal does still exist:
That software also has a password feature. I used it a long time ago and it was really easy to use.
Another somewhat sneaky alternative is to hide the file or folder using the built in file attributes. For example, Windows itself has hidden system files that by default you can't see. I always show all hidden files all the time, so this solution isn't that great for someone like me. But for a lot of casual users, it might work.
To show hidden files and folders, double-click the My Computer icon on your desktop or open Windows Explorer. Then choose Tools|Folder Options and click the View tab. Under the Advanced settings click Show Hidden Files and Folders. Now create a file or folder the way you always do.
In the My Computer or Windows Explorer file list, right-click your file or folder in the file list and choose Properties. Click the General tab and click Hidden in the Attributes section. Now go back to the Folder Options and click Do not show hidden files and folders. Your file or folder is essentially invisible.