Top 10 Tricks for Creatively Hiding Your Stuff

Every kid has a creative stash for secret stuff, but that useful enthusiasm doesn't have to die off just because we've traded treehouses for desks. See how you can hide money, files, workspaces, and more in today's Top 10. [via lifehacker]

Photo by sylvar.

10. Draw useful information on book edges

Embedding a subway map on the edge of a Moleskine saves on packing space and could potentially help you avoid the stigma of looking like a tourist (and being exposed to all the encounters that can encourage), but B.light Design's drawing hack should be more of a springboard for your own semi-secret information embedding. Terrible with names? Can't remember the lunch specials at your favorite take-out spot? These kinds of reminders, the kind you don't necessarily want everyone to know you use, are perfect for the edge of a Moleskine, a paperback, or, if appearances aren't that important, your tourist guidebook.

9. Keep cat litter inconspicuous

Those with huge, cavernous houses can probably find an out-of-the-way spot to place their cats' commode and keep it accessible to them. Apartment dwellers, though, and especially those on higher floors, often have to sacrifice closets or rooms to a box that might not smell great all the time. Two different projects from clever IKEA fans show how to turn an entryway storage unit and a storage bin that fits under a sink into litter boxes that use discrete space and won't necessarily make those rooms less pleasant. They might be solutions best tailored to a single cat, but they keep their owner's main responsibility both hidden and accessible.

8. Make a cable-free workspace

Unless tangled knots and inaccessible plugs are a weirdly popular and undocumented fetish, most of us can stand to do with fewer exposed cables around our workspace. It's not a matter of handing over a week's paycheck to pick up every cordless/Bluetooth device out there, but rather doing a little creative stashing of those cables and cords. Adam's cordless workspace and Gina's redux are good starting points, but our readers have contributed their own techniques, like this elegant desk layout, and tips on using crown molding and rain gutters as cable hiders.

7. Hide webapp features you don't need

The only reason you'd want to hide YouTube comments, Gmail sidebars, or Google SearchWiki buttons is because you don't really care about them—but when you visit those sites many, many times each week (or day), that's a good enough reason to take action. Greasemonkey, the custom JavaScript-tweaking add-on for Firefox, gives you the power to hide SearchWiki buttons, kill Gmail sidebar clutter and footer text, and, compiled into our Better YouTube, Better GReader, Better Gmail, and other Better extensions, they take only a single settings click to turn on or off.

6. Keep certain files out of Windows' Recent Documents

Whether you're trying to keep your "Recent Documents" list clear of files you don't really need access to, or you're just trying to keep certain files from ever showing up there, NirSoft Utilities' FileTypesMan is a powerful tool to get the job done. As reader Paul suggested and we explained, selecting the .avi file type and then checking off "Don't add this file type to Recent Documents" keeps any videos you've played from being interspersed with actual text documents, spreadsheets, or emails you need access to.

5. Stash your money safely

Having emergency cash on hand is a pretty smart idea, but you don't want home invaders, ethically flexible visitors, or your worst spending impulses to find it too quickly. A fake wall outlet safe or hollowed-out book are the traditional (and fun) ways to stash your small stuff, but there are others that don't require weekend time with the tool box. The Frugal Dad blog has money-hiding suggestions that include making your money look like ancient leftovers, while SavingAdvice's tips from a former burglar suggest leaving just a bit of cash in more obvious "hiding" spots around the house, so anyone engaged in evil deeds won't tear your place apart looking for your real stash.

4. Hide the Mac Dock and menu bar

Hiding the taskbar in Windows is a fairly straight-forward affair involving a right-click and a few settings tweaks. Hiding the Mac's Dock and top-of-screen menu bar is a bit more convoluted, at least on an app-by-app basis. Still, those who want to maximize their screen real estate for Photoshop or keep their desktop looking clean and minimalist can do so with these step-by-step editing instructions.

3. Stash your workspace when you aren't using it

If you work from home, there's a good chance you don't want your home office space to always remind you of work when you pass it by—and if it's in a communal space, others might want the piles of paper and computer gear kept to a minimum. A few crafty workers have shown Lifehacker how they keep their workspaces neat by hiding their gear in the off hours. A simple collapsing desk can do the job, but a fold-away desk grants more usable space when work is done. For those looking to get a bit craftier, a trap door workspace, or any of the finalists in our 2007 battle of the organizers, should provide ample inspiration on how to make work something you only see during working hours.

2. Hide sensitive files

Everybody has certain things they don't want the boss, the spouse, young types, or computer borrowers to see—and, hey, we could be talking about a resume or birthday plans here, right? Don't rely on pocket thumb drives or craftily-named, deeply-hidden files. Download and use the best free methods of protecting private files, like TrueCrypt, 7-Zip, and other methods of password-protecting, encrypting, or archiving those files meant for your eyes only.

1. Hide sensitive data inside files

If everyone you knew had public/private encryption keys and used them regularly, you'd scoff at everyone else for their privacy and security concerns. But that's not reality, and, instead, we occasionally need clever ways to hide data. One of those ways, steganography, uses both raw mathematic power and clever social disguising to hide data inside harmless-looking files, like digital pictures, generically titled Word documents, and other items not destined to be picked through. You might have to explain to another party how to use the same tools you used to extract the data, or, if you're just stashing items for yourself, remember how to pull it out later. Either way, it's probably safer than keeping your financial passwords in a file named BANK PASSWORDS.txt, even if you "hide" it with your MP3s.

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