Mac tip: Encrypt the USB stick or external hard drive and secure it with a password

If you want to encrypt a USB stick or an external hard drive on your Apple Mac, you don't need a special app. Only an operating system from macOS 10.13 High Sierra is required. With this, as well as with one or two requirements that are still met, you can quickly and easily secure a data stick or a USB hard drive with a password. In the following I'll show you how to do it.

Encrypt the hard drive on the Apple Mac or secure a USB stick with a password. With macOS 10.13 or higher and the APFS file system, this works directly in the Finder.

Encrypt the hard drive on the Apple Mac or secure a USB stick with a password. With macOS 10.13 or higher and the APFS file system, this works directly in the Finder.

Requirements: Current macOS, APFS medium, password

The fact that you need macOS 10.13 or newer is due to the fact that the stick to be encrypted or the hard drive is in the APFS- File format needs to be formatted. Only data carriers with this Apple format can be encrypted using the method described in the next paragraph. The best thing to do is to first copy all of the data on the storage medium to the Mac hard drive, format the data medium (here are instructions) and then encrypts it. The fastest way to do this is when it is empty. Depending on the number and size of the files on the stick or hard drive, the process may take longer. By the way, you should make a careful note of the password you have assigned - it cannot be reset.

Encrypt on the Apple Mac USB stick or external hard drive

If you have followed the instructions given above, the procedure is quite simple. You connect the desired USB stick or the external hard drive to the Mac, open the Finder and look for the data carrier in the left sidebar. Click on it with the right mouse button or use a "secondary click" and select the item "Encrypt XYZ ..." in the menu that appears - instead of "XYZ" there is of course the name of the device. Now you can set a password that you should remember well. Once the stick or hard drive is in APFS format and encrypted, you can only access it on Macs with macOS High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina or newer. You will always be asked for the password.

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4 comments

  1. Volker says:

    Does it make sense to convert a mechanical disk into the APFS format? I formatted mine in "Journaled case-sensitive".

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      The APFS file system does not necessarily only have advantages for SSDs. It is optimized for the use of SSDs, but you can use snapshots, versioning and the like with a rotating hard drive and find them well. Is your hard drive the system volume in your Mac?

  2. Volker says:

    No! It is only the external TimeMachine backup.

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hello Volker! I'm not sure this is the latest version right now, but Time Machine (I don't think) likes APFS formatted hard drives. But that can be out of date. With the macOS Journaled you are definitely on the safe side.

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