You could work on sensitive documents or other files that you do not want to be seen by prying eyes. The best way to prevent other users from accessing files on your computer is to protect them with a password.
Most people are unaware of the methods to protect files and folders, but in this guide we see how you can protect files with passwords individual documents or file folders on your Mac (as well as on other platforms). Individual documents can be password protected with a hidden feature in Pages, while groups of files can reside in a password-protected drive, stored directly on your Mac. That’s right, these features to protect files and folders are available without buying any software.
Protect individual files with Pages
If you do not need to password protect groups of files or anything other than simple documents, you can use the Apple Pages app to get individual file protection. Pages is Apple’s word processor that comes with every Mac, so you do not need to spend money on software like Microsoft Word.
In Pages, just start a new document or open an existing one. Before you are about to close it or save it, click on File in the menu bar. Then move the mouse down to set the password … and click on it.
You will be asked to create a password for this document. Enter the same password in the Verify field. It is only optional, but it is recommended to insert a password suggestion in case you forget it. Once done, there are no more possibilities to open this document later without knowing and entering the password.
When you’re ready, click Set password. You will notice after saving the document and locating it in the Finder, that the file icon now has a lock on it to indicate it is password protected. When you try to open it in the future, you will be asked to enter the previously set password.
Note: Without entering the password in the file, you can not view or make changes to the document with one exception. Without the password, you can only rename the document in the Finder. The contents of the document continue to remain inaccessible even after you rename it, but you will notice that the title of the document can always be changed.
Protect files and folders
How to create passwords to protect Disk Image
To password protect large groups of files, different file types, or multiple folders, it is best to create a password protected disk image in which to store all files and folders. This method is basically like creating a virtual hard disk that resides on your current hard drive. No need to connect any external device.
Note: Make sure you have some free space to dedicate to the disk image before creating it. The space you need depends on the amount of files you want to store. If they are only documents, generally about 100 MB should suffice. If you need to password-protect groups of images or videos, you may need to consider 1 GB or 2 GB of space.
To create the password protected image, you must use the Disk Utility application on your Mac. Open from the Applications Folder in the Finder or simply search using Spotlight. From here, click File in the menu bar, New Image and then Empty Image … This will create an empty image from scratch.
Give your disk image a name and choose the location in which to store it. Then below the main fields, options for customization are available. Enter the size in the appropriate field. (If you’re not sure about the size, try 100 MB initially and see if it’s enough). Keep the default OS X Extended format.
For the encryption type, select the 128-bit AES encryption option (recommended). You are asked here to set the password, choose something safe, but easy enough to remember.
After that, it leaves everything else unchanged: “single partition – GUID Partition Map” for the partition and “read/write disk image” for the image format.
Now we advise you to open the disk image by double clicking on it on the Finder and entering the password. Move all files or folders to be protected in the disk image. When you’re finished and you need to exit, click the eject button in the Finder sidebar.
The next time you want to access these files, the disk image will ask you to enter your password.
In this way we have seen how to protect files and folders with passwords on the Mac to keep them away from prying eyes.