As much as it seems that every hacker in the world is trying to find and steal your private files, nearly as many Mac app developers have created apps which aim to protect your files with password protected encryption.
From Free To Not So Much
File encryption applications and utilities have one thing in common. A password. Without the password all your encrypted files, regardless of how valuable they are, remain encrypted.
What makes encryption apps different from one another is the user interface and the type of encryption used. Even your Mac comes with built-in file encryption options and it’s been that way for years.
First on my list is one of the more expensive options to encrypt files. Encrypt Stick uses 128-bit, 256-bit, or 512-bit AES encryption to encrypt and secure files on Mac, Windows and Linux PCs.
That makes Encrypt Stick ideal for encrypting files on USB flash drives. That means you can take your valuable files with you. Without the password, the files won’t open. For roughly one fourth the price of Encrypt Stick there’s FileWard which is easier to use, relies on the cryptography libraries of OpenSSL but also allows you the option to encrypt clipboard contents for extra security. Based on HeartBleed and other problems with SSL I’m not sure that relying on SSL cryptography libraries is such a good selling point.
Regardless, encryption is the de facto way to secure files on your Mac or Windows PC, but Apple came up with a couple of ways to help those of us who are paranoid about such things. The first on my list is FileVault, OS X’s built-in encryption. Open System Preferences, select Security & Privacy, then select FileVault.
Apple makes sure you have an option with FileVault to open your encrypted files so you’ll need your login password. FileVault also generates a recovery key. Beware. Encrypting all the files on a Mac’s disk drive can take hours.
Also built-in to OS X is file storage and encryption in Disk Utility (find it in the Applications folder, inside the Utilities folder).
Click the New Image icon and select the options. All the files dropped into the disk image created by Disk Utility are encrypted and secure. You still need a password to open the image.
Apple’s methods to encrypt files may not be as pretty, and they’re mostly confined to the Mac, of course, but they work and they’re free.