When you open Notepad and begin typing into it, the text that appears only becomes a part of the file once you save it. Until then, all the content in the window is held in an area called the
stream of the file. It’s just the way the NTFS file system seen on modern Windows computers works. Normally, users don’t have access to the stream content of their files . The content is simply there for the operating system to access. If you know how to access the stream area of a file, though, you could store entirely different matter in it than what appears in the main file. It would be a place that no one would know to look for — your own secret area.
Here’s how you access the stream area of a file
To get to the stream area of a file, you first need to create a special text file out of a command prompt window. Once you have a window open, typing in notepad at the prompt and hitting Enter should make a new Notepad window open. You can even type in a name: something like notepadnicefile.txt and then hit Enter. Right away, Windows should open a Notepad file and ask you if you would like to create a new file by name nicefile.txt .
To actually create a stream file, you need to open a file in the way shown above, but use a special string: you need to type in the name of the file that will be your front, type in the name of the hidden stream file that you wish to create inside it, and separate the two with a colon. As an example, you could type this string in: notepadthisismyfront.txt:secretstream.txt
Right away, you should see a Notepad window open that asks you if you would like to create a file by the name mentioned. Once you hit Yes, the Notepad file should open the secret stream file for you to type into. Whatever you type into the Notepad window at this point should go into the file’s secret stream area. When you open the main thisismyfront.txt file, you won’t see what you just typed in. No one who opens the file will be able to see the secret message you typed in.
To re-access the secret stream
Once you’re ready to read the message in the secret stream again, you need to go to command prompt and type in the string more < thisisafront.txt:thisisasecret.txt. You should be able to see your secret message again.
There are other things that you can do with your secret stream
It’s possible to create multiple streams by simply repeating the process. If you’re interested in finding out if someone else has secret streams, you’ll need a different method. You need to use an application called streams.exe .
While anyone can use file encryption software or file locking software to hide files from others, this in-plain-sight trick is bound to impress people far more.