Easy encrypted notes and files on Mac

Oh yes, I sure did just use The Matrix. (⌐■_■)

Too often have I seen Word, Excel, whatever files with sensitive data, just sitting on disks and servers, or Dropbox accounts. Accounts, hosting details, credit card numbers, a security disaster waiting to happen.

Saving or sending sensitive information in plaintext is a huge no-no.

These are two easy and quick ways to do better, one for only your computer, and one for shared information, on a Mac using built-in tools. They take about two minutes to set up, so no excuses.

Disclaimer: I am not a security expert, no system is air tight, these are two quick methods to be a bit more secure.

Secure Notes: On your computer via Keychain

Keychain holds all your passwords, and also supports encrypted notes.
The weak link here is your account password, so… you know… don't be stupid. Test your password strength here.

  1. start Keychain (cmd+space, keych, enter)
  2. go to Secure Notes in the left column
  3. hit the little + button on the bottom
  4. Give it a name
  5. Fill it with content
  6. Hit Add

Now, when you want to open this note, you need to authenticate with your user's password. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Keychain, and its notes, even syncs with iCloud.

Encrypted Volume to share any file type

An encrypted volume is like a drive. You mount it, and store in it what you want, unmount it. The drive is actually an encrypted file, so that can be stored anywhere and mounted by anyone who has the poweerrrrrr.

  1. start Disk Utility (cmd+space, disk ut, enter)
  2. file, New Image, Blank Image…
  3. pick a location and a name for your .dmg file (the encrypted volume)
  4. choose: Encryption, 128 or 256 bit, depending on basically how large the files will be (decryption takes time), I always go 256 bit

5. fill in the password needed to mount the volume 
This again is the weakest link, make it count, generate one or test it here.

6. Disk Utility will let you know when it's done, and you'll find your dmg file at the location.

7. your new dmg will be mounted (as in visible as a drive), you can fill it with anything you want (text files, pictures, spreadsheets, you name it)

The mounted encrypted volume, lovingly named Untitled

8. Unmount it (hit cmd+e if you're a boss, or the little eject icon if you're an auntie), to close the volume

This way, when somebody gets a hold of your computer, server, dropbox account or even just the files, you at least have some level of protection.

Do you have better ways? I and we'd love to hear about it!