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How to Encrypt a Drive on Mac | 3 Methods

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Jan 27, 2024 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions

I accidentally clicked the secure delete button thinking that I was clicking on the decryption button. I would like to know if there is any way to recover my files because they were hugely important. Reply as soon as possible, please. Thank you.

Viruses and malware are the basic reasons the macOS has strong encryption and decryption modes to protect the data from attacks and hacks. So, in case you happen to delete an important file or folder. It became corrupt for any reason; here is this article that will provide all the possible solutions, ranging from the Mac built-in tools to a third-party data recovery software to encrypt and decrypt the file/folder and then recover it without losing the data.

With a strong data security mode, macOS is famous for its security level of the data stored. While working on the Mac device connected with the storage media, if the files and folders are deleted from the device accidentally, you can recover the data along with encryption and decryption activity. In this regard, first, you have to encrypt and decrypt the file/folder and then use the recovery software to retrieve the deleted data from the device or storage drive. Here are some solutions for encrypting, decrypting, and recovering the data. The following topics would be discussed in detail in this article.

In this article

Part 1: 3 Methods to Encrypt a File/Drive on Mac

If you delete the files from your Mac device and you need to recover them, you first need to encrypt the targeted file. Here are some built-in Mac procedures that will help to encrypt the Mac hard drive.

Method 1. Using Finder to Encrypt a File on Mac

The first solution is to use the Mac finder on the device. If the file to be encrypted is on the storage drive, ensure your device and external drive are appropriately connected. The following are the steps to follow to encrypt the file using Finder.

  1. Start by connecting the external storage drive with your Mac device. If the folder/file is present on the internal drive then straightaway initiate the process.
  2. Now, launch the Finder to search for all the files on the window.
  3. The next step is to click on the desired storage drive, i.e., internal or external, and then select the Encrypt Drive Name option.
  4. After changing the drive's name, set a password and a security hint per the requirements.
  5. As all the processes are completed, the file will be encrypted, and now you have the answer to 'how to unlock hard drive Mac'.

using finder to encrypt storage drive 1

Method 2. Using File Vault to Encrypt a Drive on Mac

The second way to encrypt a drive on Mac is to use File Vault. In this process, the external or internal drive is encrypted in the background, and one can see the progression in the file vault. Once the process is completed, the Mac will restart; upon restarting, it will need a password. Here are the steps to perform filevault disk encryption on Mac:

  1. Start the process with the Apple main menu. Then, head to system preferences in the option.
  2. Select Security and Privacy as an option in this option. Lastly, click on the File Vault tab.
  3. Here, you have to click the 'Turn on the File Vault' option.
  4. Enter a strong password to complete the encryption process to encrypt the Mac hard drive.

using file vault to encrypt storage drive 1

Method 3. Using Disk Utility to Encrypt a Drive on Mac

Using disk utility to encrypt Mac hard drives is another potential way. Once the drive is encrypted, you need to enter the password to reach the data in the file. If you forget the password, the drive will turn to inaccessible mode. The following are the steps for using the disk utility option.

  1. Start with launching Disk Utility from the finder, and in the menu bar, select the option of Applications.
  2. In applications, select Utilities.
  3. Here, you have to select the file or drive you want to encrypt using a password and click on the Erase tab.
  4. In the Format drop menu, select the option of Mac OS Extended or APFS.
  5. Add the drive's name to the name menu and click erase again.
  6. Now enter the password to encrypt your drive.

using disk utility to encrypt storage drive 1

Part 2: 3 Methods to Decrypt a File/Drive on Mac

Not just providing the option to encrypt the external or internal hard drive, Mac OS presents you with a built-in option array for decrypting the password-protected storage device. Here are 3 methods used to decrypt a file on Mac.

Method 1. Using Finder to Decrypt a File on Mac

Finder cannot only facilitate encrypting the drive but also decrypting the password-protected storage drive. Once the decryption is completed, you don't need the password to access the drive. Here are the steps:

  1. Connect the external hard drive with the Mac device or select the internal encoded volume.
  2. Now launch Finder and look for the destined drive in the list.
  3. Click the storage drive and select the option of Decrypt Drive Name.

using finder to decrypt password 1

Method 2. Using File Vault to Decrypt a File on Mac

The second way is to use the file vault. As mentioned above, for encryption, this time, the task is to decrypt the drive. Here you go for the steps to decrypt the drive.

  1. Start the process with the Apple main menu. Then, head to system preferences in the option.
  2. Select Security and Privacy as an option in this option. Lastly, click on the File Vault tab.
  3. You must click the Lock icon and enter the password. Now select the option of 'Turn off the File Vault.'
  4. The drive would be decrypted in the background, and you can check the progression in the file vault.

using file vault to decrypt password 1

Method 3. Using Disk Utility to Decrypt a File on Mac

Disk utility can also be used for decrypting the hard drive on Mac. Here are the steps to proceed with.

  1. Launch the disk utility and select the targeted encrypted drive.
  2. Now, to unlock the drive, select the option for the file and proceed to Unlock Drive Name.
  3. Enter the password to access the drive if and when required.
  4. Now, to complete the decryption process, select the file option and complete the action by selecting Turn off Encryption.

using disk utility to decrypt password 1

But the appropriate way is to use the command line. Here are the steps.

For APFS drive:

  1. Launch the finder and select the application option in the menu.
  2. Click on utilities in the menu and type the code, i.e., "diskutil apfs list". Click return to continue.
  3. Next step is to unlock the drive, type "diskutil apfs unlock volume /dev/apfs_volume_id -passphrase type_the_key".
  4. To complete the decryption process, type "diskutil apfs list".

Try to use the command line method as this is an authentic way; otherwise, you can face data loss.

Part 3: Recover Files from an Encrypted Mac Storage Drive

Sometimes, you face the problem of deleted files from the encrypted storage drive, or the encrypted storage drives get corrupted due to a virus or malware attack. In this regard, file recovery is a big deal. For this, third-party application software is required to retrieve the data. Using Recoverit Data Recovery for Mac software is your ultimate solution.

Recoverit data recovery software is an all-in-one solution for retrieving the data, i.e., lost, deleted, locked, or corrupt files. It is easy to use and compatible with several external drives and devices. Here are the steps that can be employed to recover files from an encrypted/corrupt Mac storage drive.

Step 1: Initiate downloading and launching the Recoverit data recovery.

Step 2: In the case of recovering data from an encrypted hard drive, go to Hard Drives and Locations section.

Step 3: The hard drive should have an appropriate connection with the device. Now, select the locked hard drive in the menu and hit it to start the scanning process.

select the encrypted drive

Step 4: The data recovery process will start, and the software will run a deep scan to recover the lost files.

scanning lost data

Step 5: Once the scan is completed, all the retrieved files will be listed in the software interface. Click to see the preview of every file and select the files that you want to recover. Select the files and save them in the desired location on the device.

recover the files


In this article, you learn about the appropriate ways, i.e., built-in and software solutions, to carry out the encryption and decryption process and recover lost or deleted files from an encrypted/corrupted external drive. While using the Mac OS, you can always carry out all the processes mentioned above in no time with all built-in Mac solutions. You can use the finder, file vault, or disk utility to perform encryption and decryption tasks. Apart from this, if you want to restore the deleted files from an encrypted/corrupted hard drive (external), you can use Recoverit data recovery software that carries two scanning modes, i.e., a quick scan and a deep scan. The software will restore all the files in no time. You will get a preview. After looking at the preview, select the file and save it on the device.

Recoverit author

Sue Wayne

staff Editor

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