How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac – To protect your confidential information, you should use encryption and password protection whenever possible; macOS offers several ways to implement this security, using built-in software and features.

The best way to prevent unauthorized access to your data is to encrypt your boot drive. This ensures that no one can steal your Mac and read the data on your drive.

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

But you should also set a password to protect your Mac when the screen saver is active, otherwise anyone passing by can access your Mac. 

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You can also set a firmware password to prevent someone from booting your Mac from an external drive (for Macs with Intel processors).

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

FileVault, macOS’s built-in full disk encryption feature, is a robust way to encrypt the contents of your entire startup disk. When you turn it on, it encrypts all the data on your drive; as you work, write and edit new files, they are encrypted in real time. 

It is important to use a strong password to protect your user account, as this password not only gives you access to your account, but also unlocks your drive. A simple password (“1234” or “password1”, etc.) is easy to guess and can allow anyone to log in, bypassing FileVault protection.

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

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You will be prompted to select a method to unlock the drive if you lose your account password.

If you choose to use your iCloud account, Apple will store the recovery key for your drive on its servers, and you’ll need to answer three security questions that will unlock the drive.

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

Storing your recovery key locally is safer because if someone has access to your user data, they could have your Apple ID and password. You need to make sure that you can store the recovery key safely. If you use a password manager, you can save it there and access it from your iPhone or iPad if needed.

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If you select a recovery key, a window will appear showing that key. Copy it to a safe place like a password manager or take a screenshot of the window.

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

The encryption process begins and you can use your Mac normally. You probably won’t notice any performance degradation as FileVault encrypts your drive, and depending on the size of your Mac’s drive, this will take anywhere from a few hours to overnight. Your Mac must be connected for the encryption process to continue; so if you have a laptop be sure to connect it to the power supply. And encryption only happens when the Mac is on.

If you enable FileVault, you won’t be able to use automatic login on your Mac. This is something you should never use anyway, because anyone who owns your Mac can boot it up and log into your user account. 

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

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FileVault protects your data at rest, meaning that if your Mac is turned off, in hibernation, or logged out, a password is required to access it. When you sign in, the data is available to you or anyone else who might be sitting at your Mac while you’re not looking. To avoid this, you should set a password so that when your Mac is idle or when the screen saver is active, that password is required to access your Mac. And if you set a password like this, it’s easy to lock your Mac, no mouse click required.

Click the pop-up menu in the Lock screen section to make changes, choosing the time before the password request is triggered. Here it is better to choose immediately; that way, you don’t have to worry about how long it takes for your Mac to be protected. After you make your selection, a dialog prompts you to enter a password to confirm it.

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

If you select this setting, you can define an active corner that will activate the screen saver when the mouse pointer reaches a certain corner of the screen.

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To do this, go back to the Desktop & Dock panel in System Preferences. Scroll down to the bottom of the window, click the Hot Corners… button.

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

Hot corner actions happen when you move the cursor to one of the corners of the screen. As you can see above, I have four actions defined for the four corners of the screen. In the upper left corner is Put screen to sleep. Since my security settings require a password immediately after the screen is idle, this provides instant protection from prying eyes.

You can also put your Mac to sleep from the keyboard. You can press any of several key combinations, depending on your Mac and your keyboard.

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

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– Press the power button for about a second and a half; this is handy with a laptop or keyboard with a power switch.

– If you press the Control-Power or Control-Media Eject button, a dialog will ask if you want to restart, sleep, or shut down your Mac.

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

– Pressing Control-Command-K locks the screen but does not put it to sleep. Your Mac displays the login screen. this is the fastest method if your keyboard does not have an on/off switch. 

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If you leave your Mac running with a screen saver on or ask it to display the lock screen, operations such as downloads can continue while you’re away from the computer.

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

*Note: This only works on Macs with an Intel processor, not Apple’s M1 or M2 processors.*

To prevent unauthorized users from booting your Mac from another drive or recovery partition, you can set a firmware password. Once set up, when you boot your Mac from its normal startup disk, you’ll see a normal login window where you enter your user account password. If you try to boot from a different drive or from macOS Recovery, your Mac will pause and display a lock icon with a password field.

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

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You can only set a firmware password on an Intel Mac; new Macs with Apple’s own processors do not support this. Apple recommends using FileVault to protect data on these Macs, and to be honest, if you’re using FileVault even on an Intel Mac, you probably won’t need a firmware password.

Also, macOS Ventura requires you to “trust” an external drive for use with your Mac, either as a startup drive or as a data or backup drive. This means that a random person can’t just plug the drive into their Mac and start their computer. When you first connect the drive to your Mac, you’ll be presented with a dialog asking for your password and making sure you trust the device. 

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

FileVault protects your boot drive, but what if you have other drives? You may have one or more external drives that you use for data storage or backup; portable drives that you use to bring files to and from work; and USB sticks that you use to download files to a friend’s house. You can also have drives formatted with two or more partitions, and you can choose to encrypt specific partitions on those drives if you want. You can manually encrypt these drives to protect your data.

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Note that when you encrypt drives on macOS Big Sur or later, they are converted to the APFS format, which cannot be read by Macs running versions of macOS earlier than 10.13 High Sierra.

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

You can also encrypt drives or partitions through Disk Utility, but that requires you to wipe them during the process. For new or empty hard drives or drives that have yet to be partitioned, Disk Utility is a good choice, as you probably already use it to handle partitioning.

You can verify that the encryption is in effect by clicking on the same drive again in Disk Utility. Now it will show that the drive is formatted in encrypted format as shown in the image below.

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

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If you save your password to your keychain, you won’t have to re-enter it after you sign in to your Mac. However, if someone manages to get into your account, the drive will be mounted automatically. So it’s better protection not to store the password, but you’ll have to remember it, and people are more likely to choose weaker passwords when they need to remember them.

If you forget your password, there is no way to access the files on the disk; you will need to delete it to use it.

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

You can also create encrypted disk images for storing files. Think of them as folders with their own encryption. Although the hard disk containing the data is already encrypted, some want an additional level of security for certain files or folders, and the encrypted disk image has its own password. And encrypted disk images are portable: if you copy one to an unencrypted disk, the files are still protected. 

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You can create two types of disk images: standard disk images with a fixed size, or you can create “sparse images”, for which you set a maximum size, but which only

How To Find Encrypted Files On Mac

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