How To Quickly Hide Your Web Surfing From The Boss!

A few months back, Aibek wrote a great post on hiding all those ‘important folders’ you might have lying around your desktop. His method is perfect if someone is snooping around your desktop looking for your things.

But what would you do if someone barges into your workspace when you are in the middle of doing ‘important things’? Would you just have to live with the embarrassment?

Luckily, I’ve discovered quite a few ways of getting yourself out of that nasty predicament.

1. Hide Window Hotkey

‘Hide Window Hotkey’ is a nifty little program that has the sole purpose of hiding those naughty important windows you have open. Just download and install the program and you’ll be all set. It has a very simple to follow User Interface and the program does exactly what it’s supposed to. Just check the box of the open program(s) you’d like to hide and you’re done.

In the Options menu (Ctrl+O) you can set the hotkey for hiding and un-hiding to be whatever you want it to be. The default is F8 to hide the selected windows, and Ctrl+F8 to unhide the windows.

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You’re also given the option to hide things with your mouse, which is what I usually do. Just click both the left and right mouse buttons and your window will be hidden. This is a very innovative tool and is completely free to use. However, if you do like the software, be sure to send some donations to Elongsoft for creating such an awesome program.

2. Workfriendly

Unlike the other methods mentioned here, Workfriendly doesn’t give you a way to hide your work quickly. Rather, it’s a website that will mask whatever you’re looking at inside a window that looks exactly like Microsoft Word 2003. This way, you can look at whatever website you want without your boss knowing because to them, it just looks like you’re typing something in Word. Although this seems like a great idea, there are some slight problems with it. The main thing I noticed was that it doesn’t display pictures or video so it’s not going to be useful when you’re watching YouTube videos or looking at Flickr. Another problem was that you can’t designate how large you want the Word window to be, so it’ll be perfect for those people at work who have small 800×600 screens.

Another great feature included is the little “˜Boss Key’ button at the top. Just hover your mouse over it and the page you’re on will be transformed into an article about procrastination. I doubt you’ll be using it much because websites are only displayed in words anyways. Workfriendly is a great website, especially for those addicted to reading blogs. Now you can read Make Use Of at work without being detected by your boss.

3. Virtual Desktop Managers (VirtuaWin)

This is my favorite way of hiding things from others, and the great thing is that Virtual Desktop Managers can also be used to actually get some work done. Virtual Desktop Managers are programs that allow you to have multiple desktops within your own desktop, making it easier to work on separate projects.

For example, you could have games on one desktop, blogs on another, and whatever you’re working on on the third desktop. It’s really a handy way of organizing your desktop. The best thing about it is that you can use most Virtual Desktop Managers to hide your active windows from those prying eyes.

You can use any Virtual Desktop Manager you want, but it’s best if you choose one that supports shortcuts. My personal favorite is VirtuaWin (previously covered by Aibek) although you can use whichever you want. For those that are using VirtuaWin, just download and install the program. Next, you’ll want to go into ‘Setup’ and click on the ‘Mouse’ tab. Then check the box that says ‘Enable Mouse Desktop Changing’ and hit ‘OK’.

Then, you can have all work-related things on one desktop and everything else on a separate desktop. Whenever someone barges into your room, you just need to move the mouse to the edge of the screen and the desktop will change. No more jumping and scrambling to press certain hotkeys. You can now browse whatever you want without being worried about getting caught.

4. Make use of what you have.

Excluding Workfriendly, the methods of hiding active windows I’ve discussed all require you to download and install some programs. Unluckily for most of us in a workplace, you’re not given the rights to download and install programs. Of course, we could still use Workfriendly, but I’d still want to watch people on YouTube hurt themselves and make myself feel better when I’m working. So, I thought it would be useful to develop a set of directions for being about to hide your windows without needing to download other tools.

    (1) First off, set up your desktop the way it would be when you’re actually working on something. Take a screenshot of the screen using the “˜PrtScn’ button located at the top right of most keyboards.

    (2) Open up MS Paint and paste the screenshot. Then save it to the desktop or somewhere easy to access.

    (3) Right click on the image and set it as the background.

    (4) Hide your desktop icons by right clicking anywhere on the desktop and un-checking ‘Show Desktop Icons’.

    (5) Hide the taskbar by right clicking on it and hitting the ‘Properties’ button. Then check the box that says ‘Auto Hide the Taskbar’.

After doing all that, you should be able to look at whatever you want. If someone decides to be snobby and peeks at your screen, quickly hit ‘Window Key + D’ to minimize everything. As long as the person doesn’t examine your screen closely, it’ll just look like you’re working.

Hopefully, these methods can help you avoid the embarrassment of being caught looking at odd things at work. Do you know a great way of hiding your work? Talk about it in the comments!

(By) Ken Burkes is an active web surfer who diggs, stumbles, and blogs in his free time. Being too lazy to get a blog of his own, you should stay up to date with Make Use Of to find more of his articles.

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