Neither Windows or Mac OS X natively support adding a password to your folders. There are still ways to protect your files, however. Follow this guide to get started.
1. Windows XP
- Create a compressed folder : Right-click on your desktop or whatever location you’d like your folder to be. Select New, then click Compressed (zipped )Folder. This will make a new .zip file that you can add files to as if it were a folder.
- Move your files : Copy and paste or click and drag your files into the new .zip file. You can move as many files and folders over as you’d like.
- Add a password : Open the .zip file. Click File, then select Add a Password. Enter a password of your choosing, then enter again to confirm it. You will now need this password every time you access the .zip file.
- Delete the original : Once the .zip file is created, you will have two copies of your folder: the original and the .zip file. Delete or move your original so that it cannot be accessed.
2. Windows Vista and Later
- Download and install a third-party compression software : 7-Zip is one of the most popular free options available. This guide will be based on using 7-Zip.
- Create the compressed file : Select the folder that you want to password protect. Right-click and select 7-Zip from the menu. From the second menu, select “Add to archive…” This will open 7-Zip.
- Adjust the settings : You can rename the file that will be created. Choose .zip from the “Archive format” menu if you want the folder to be compatible on systems without 7-Zip installed.
- Add a password : On the right side of the 7-Zip window, there will be two fields to enter and confirm a password for the file. You can also select your form of encryption, and whether or not you want the names of the files encrypted as well. Click OK when you are done.
- Delete your original : Creating a compressed file will leave you with two copies of your data: the original and the compressed file. Delete or move the original so that it cannot be accessed.
3. Mac OS X
- Create an encrypted sparse image : To password protect files and folder in Mac OS X, you will be creating an encrypted disc image, which you will mount whenever you want to access the files. You will specify the size that you want the image to be, but it will only occupy as much space on your hard drive as the contents do.
- Open the Disk Utility tool : You can find this in the Utilities folder which is in the Applications folder. Once the program is running, click File, then select New. Pick Blank Disk Image. A new window will open; choose Sparse Disk Image from the Image Format menu.
- Choose a size : There will be a list of predetermined sizes that you can choose from, or you can enter your own with Custom. Pick a size that is larger than the size of all the files you are adding, that way you can add more later if you’d like.
- Choose your encryption : You’ll have a choice between 128-bit or 256-bit. 128-bit AES encryption is very strong, and most users won’t need anything higher than that. Encrypting in 256-bit can take significantly longer.
- Name the image : This is the name that will appear in your system. Click Create. You will be prompted to enter and confirm a password.
- Fill the image : Once you create the image, the file and mounted image will both appear. Add files to the mounted image, then drag it to the trash can to unmount it. When you want to access them again, open the image file. You will be prompted for the password and then the image will be mounted.
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