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Protect files on your Mac with a password without having to install anything

Sometimes, for whatever reason, it can be interesting to password protect files to prevent someone from seeing them even if they gain access to the computer.

And many of you may be thinking … what if I just save those files in my user folder? This question is asked because if you have a password for your user account, you will need it to access your computer (if you have it set up that way), or to access the files in that account from another account. But unless you have FileVault enabled, the files are not encrypted, and therefore totally vulnerable and easily readable if you remove the hard drive from the computer.

Using the options of the applications we already have

Protect files on your Mac with a password without having to install anything
Protect files on your Mac with a password without having to install anything

Some applications already have the option to password protect the files in it. So why break our heads when the application already allows it?

This is the case with Pages, Numbers and Keynote, for example.

As you can see in the image above, setting a password in an iWork document (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) is as easy as accessing the document settings section in the sidebar. There, we’ll check the “Request Password” option and use the button below to set a password.

Protect any type of file with a password thanks to the MacOS Disk Utility

If the application of the type of documents we want to protect does not support this option, there is still a possibility to do it without having to install anything. This is thanks to the “Disk Utility” application, which has been factory installed since the beginning of Mac OS X, and of course, it is also found in the current versions of macOS. With this tool we can encrypt files and entire folders .

Step-by-step guide

To do this, the first step will be to open the “Disk Utility” app , which can be found in the “Utilities” folder of our application folder, or in the “Others” folder of our Launchpad.

Once opened, go in the top menu to “File> New image> Folder image …”. . Next, select the folder you want to password protect.

Once you have chosen the folder that you want to protect with a password, the following window will appear. In this window we can choose the name of the file to be generated (we’ll talk about that later), as well as the location where we want to save it. But apart from these two things, we also have to indicate the type of encryption we want to use, and as a rule we usually recommend the 128-bit AES , which is the one I have marked. We will also choose the “read/write” option so that we can modify the content of the files. If you don’t want this to be the case, you can select one of the other options, depending on what you want.

And how do we access the files in the protected folder now? To do this, we must open the file generated by the Disk Utility, which by default has the extension DMG. When we open it, it will ask us to enter the password that we specified in the previous step.

Once we’ve opened it we’ll have the folder available to read ( and write if we’ve put it there). But it won’t appear as a normal folder. Instead, it appears as if it were a regular disk image (or a removable disk), so to close it you can simply drag the disk icon (not the file) to the trash or eject it.

Once we have checked that everything is working we can delete the original folder (and forget about emptying the trash), because now we can read and write from this file as if it were a normal folder. In fact, if you followed all the steps indicated here, you can even create new files in your encrypted folder.

And that’s it! This is a simple trick to password protect our folders, for whatever reason. What do you think? Did you find this interesting? Did you already know about this feature in the MacOS Disk Utility?