One of the sure-fire and most popular ways to secure computer files– sensitive eyes-only documents, and incriminating evidence from prying eyes, government spooks, and nefarious Eastern European and Asian hackers– is to encrypt the files.
Encryption encodes a file (or files or folders of files) so that only authorized people with the correct password can open and view the file. How do you encrypt files for safekeeping? How do you share encrypted files with others? Fortunately, there are many, many ways to encrypt files. Here are two. Both easy. Both free. One is better than the other.
Built In vs. Added On
A free but not-so-easy method to encrypt files for storage or sharing is built into your Mac already. Open the Applications folder, then open the Utilities folder, then open the Disk Utility app. You’ll be creating a secure disk image to store files; all neatly and safely encrypted. Click the New Image button in the top toolbar. Give the encrypted disk image a name, select the size, file format, and type of encryption.
When you’re done you’ll be asked to enter the all-important password needed to retrieve the files or share them with others. That step-by-step process gives you an encrypted disk image of files or folder of files that can be sent and shared with others (including Windows PC users) or stored for safekeeping.
It’s free, but fraught with a few confusing steps for the average Mac user.
Added On, But Better
Or, if you just want fast and easy, and don’t want to wade through Apple’s Disk Utility menus, and you plant to send encrypted files to other Mac and Windows PC users, and you’re on a budget, then you can use the free Encrypto app to do much the same thing, but faster, easier, and with similarly secure encryption– drag and drop.
I’m not sure you can create encrypted files much easier than using Encrypto.
It uses highly secure 256-bit AES encryption. Drag any file or folder of files to Encrypto. Click the big Encrypt button. Add a passphrase to remember or share with others when you share encrypted files. Then share using the built-in Sharing button– Mail, AirDrop, Messages. Encrypted files from your Mac can be sent to Windows users, too. All they need is the passphrase to open the file.
The only negative is that wherever you send the encrypted files– to Mac or Windows users– just make sure they have the Encrypto app installed, too. And, there’s no iPhone or iPad version. That would be a plus.
That said, simple, secure, and free is good.