How to Password Protect Folders

Learning how to password protect folders on your computer is the perfect way to insure that your private information stays private. Password protection can encrypt the files in a folder or restrict access to them.

Password Protect Folders In Windows
The Windows OS limits the ability to password protect a folder to certain versions. There are several work-arounds and third party solutions, however, which provide password protection to most versions of Windows. Here are some options:

  • It's easy for Pros. In Windows XP Professional version, you can password protect a folder by right clicking on the folder. Select Properties from the menu and then click Advanced. On the Advanced tab, click "Encrypt contents to secure data". You'll be prompted for a password and other users won't be able to open the folder without the password.
  • Safe and compressed. For other versions of Windows XP, it is possible to password protect a compressed version of a folder. Right click a folder and select Send To from the menu. Select Compressed (Zipped) Folder and a new folder will be created with the same name and a .ZIP extension. Double click on the new folder and from the File menu, select Add a Password. Note that this will leave your original folder intact and unprotected. For the best protection, delete the original folder or back it up to another drive.
  • Third party options. There are several software-based options for password protecting files and folders in Windows. AxCrypt by Axantum Software (www.axantum.com) and TrueCrypt (www.truecrypt.org) are free applications that allow you to apply password-based encryption to files, folders and disk partitions.

Password Protect Folders On A Mac
To protect folder in OS X, you need to create a new encrypted disk volume and store the folders in that volume. Here are the steps:

  • Open the Disk Utility.
  • Select File, New, Blank Disk Image (Mac OS X 10.4, 10.5 or later) or Image Menu, New (Mac OS X 10.3 through 10.3.9).
  • Give the volume a name and choose a size and format.
  • Choose and image format-the "sparse disk image" will allow the volume to grow or shrink depending on the amount of space required.
  • Select and encryption method from the encryption pop-up.
  • Click Create.
  • Add a password.
  • Files or folders dropped onto the new volume will be password protected.
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