How to Encrypt a Hard Drive in macOS

how to encrypt a hard drive in macos

We know that encryption is important for the protection of your data. And there’s no excuse since your Apple computer comes with tools to encrypt a hard drive in macOS.

And we’ve covered how to encrypt your Windows 10 hard drive but now we’re talking macOS.

Turn on and set up FileVault

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Security & Privacy.
  2. Click the FileVault tab.
  3. Then click the “lock.” Enter your administrator name and password.
  4. Click Turn On FileVault.


When FileVault is on, your Mac will require that you login with your account password.

If other users have accounts on your Mac, you might see a message that each user must type in their password before they will be able to unlock the disk. For each user, click the Enable User button and enter the user’s password. User accounts that you add after turning on FileVault will be automatically enabled.

Set How Your Unlock Your Hard Drive

Choose how you want to be able to unlock your disk and reset your password, in case you ever forget your password:  

  • If you’re using OS X Yosemite or later, you can choose to use your iCloud account to unlock your disk and reset your password.
  • If you’re using OS X Mavericks, you can choose to store a FileVault recovery key with Apple by providing the questions and answers to three security questions. Choose answers that you’re sure to remember.
  • If you don’t want to use iCloud FileVault recovery, you can create a local recovery key. Keep the letters and numbers of the key somewhere safe—other than on your encrypted startup disk.

Encryption occurs in the background as you use your Mac, and only while your Mac is awake and plugged in to AC power. You can check progress in the FileVault section of Security & Privacy preferences. Any new files that you create are automatically encrypted as they are saved to your startup disk.

Restart Your Mac After You Turn On FileVault

When FileVault setup is complete you’ll need to restart your Mac. You will use your account password to unlock your disk and allow your Mac to finish starting up. FileVault requires that you login every time your Mac starts up and no account is permitted to log in automatically.

Your Security Policies May Require You to Turn on FileVault

Stuff happens, so don’t be that person who gets an unencrypted laptop stolen from their car which leads to 43,000 patients getting notified their information was stolen. Encrypting your devices is a low-effort way to boost your security.

This is the kind of best practice that many companies require employees to follow in their security policies and procedures. Vendor security questionnaires often ask about your encryption policy and practices.

Especially for B2B companies that are under scrutiny from enterprise customers or regulatory authorities, it’s important that all your employees encrypt their hard drives.


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