How to Password Protect Folders on Mac

Password Protect Folders Mac Featured

You can’t encrypt folders in a direct way on macOS, but you can put them in password-protected containers. This has the effect of protecting your folders and the files they contain with a password. To password protect folders on Mac, use Disk Utility or a third-party tool such as Encrypto.

In this post, we show you how to password protect folders on Mac using both of these methods. First, let’s look at the built-in approach.

Use Disk Utility to Password Protect Folders on Mac

You can password protect a folder through an encrypted disk image. This will create a new DMG file and require you to use a password to unlock it. What’s more, you can delete the original folder after encryption, as it’s within the package.

1. Open Disk Utility through Spotlight.

2. Once it’s open, choose “File -> New Image -> New Image from Folder … ” from the menu bar.

Creating a new image from a folder in macOS.

3. Select the folder you want to password protect and choose either encryption option from the drop-down menu.

Selecting an encryption level in Disk Utility.

The 256-bit option is more secure but takes longer to encrypt and decrypt, though both formats protect your data well, so 128-bit AES is fine here.

4. Enter a password when prompted. This is the password you’ll enter to unlock the disk image. It should be strong and not the same as your Mac password.

5. In the “Image Format” menu, choose “read/write” to let you add files to the image, otherwise you won’t be able to add or remove them.

Selecting a disk image format in Disk Utility.

6. Click “Save” to create the encrypted disk image. After a while, Disk Utility will show a success message when it finishes creating the disk image from your folder.

7. Unless you select a different save location in the previous steps, the disk image will appear next to the folder you selected.

A Disk Image folder on the Mac.

This DMG file is not the same as your folder – it’s a copy of the folder’s contents within a disk image. The password will mount and decrypt the DMG. The original folder is a separate entity.

Once you’re sure everything works, you can delete the unencrypted folder.

Using Encrypto

Encrypto is a third-party encryption tool available from the Mac App Store. It provides a better User Experience (UX) for encrypting and decrypting files with a drag-and-drop interface.

1. To begin, install Encrypto from the Mac App Store.

The Mac App Store.

2. When you’re ready, open Encrypto using Spotlight or from the Applications folder.

3. To use Encrypto, drag the folder you want to encrypt onto the app window.

Dragging a folder onto the Encrypto app.

4. Enter the password you want to use to protect the folder. You can also provide an optional hint if you’re afraid of forgetting the password credentials.

Adding a password to an encrypted file.

5. When you’re ready, click “Encrypt” to create your archive.

6. When the encryption is complete, drag the archive somewhere safe. You can also choose the “Share File” and “Save As … ” options to send the Encrypto archive elsewhere.

Dragging an encrypted archive to the desktop.

7. To open the archive, double-click it, enter your password, and click “Decrypt” to unlock the folder.

Wrapping Up

The Disk Utility method of password protecting a folder on Mac will work, but it’s slightly clunky. The Encrypto app is easier to use but creates a proprietary archive format that may not be future-proof. As such, you’ll want to choose your method depending on your needs and security concerns. If low-level protection will suffice, you can hide files and folders instead.

On the contrary, if you would like to remove a password from a protected PDF document in Mac, we have the solution for this as well.

Tom Rankin Tom Rankin

Tom Rankin is a quality content writer for WordPress, tech, and small businesses. When he's not putting fingers to keyboard, he can be found taking photographs, writing music, playing computer games, and talking in the third-person.

2 comments

  1. hi Tom
    Is there a way to add new files to the .dmg created as above? I can’t seem to do so and it sort of freezes the folder out from new files/information. It also doesn’t seem to allow editing of a document from the dmg without duplicating it? I may be missing something. Thanks!

    1. Hello Jeff,

      In my experience, I have to uncompress the DMG, do what I need to the files, then turn it back into a DMG. There’s no dynamic way to do what you’re asking, in other words.

      If I’ve got the wrong end of the stick, feel free to point that out to me. 🙂

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