How to Encrypt a Flash Drive

Mac

Use the macOS Disk Utility app.

  1. Insert your USB flash drive.
  2. Open Disk Utility, select the flash drive, click Erase.
  3. In the pop-up window, specify Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and GUID Partition Map.
  4. Click Erase in the bottom right to format the drive.
  5. Right-click the drive in Finder, select Encrypt, and add a password.

The process starts instantly and can take a few minutes, depending on the size of your USB stick. Be sure to record your password because there is no way to recover if you lose it.

To use the encrypted drive, insert it in the computer and enter the password. After it is open, you can read and write files like normal. When finished, just eject the drive.

Windows

Use the Windows 10 BitLocker app.

  1. Insert your USB flash drive.
  2. Select Control Panel > System & Security > BitLocker Drive Encryption.
  3. Select the flash drive (usually D.).
  4. Select Turn on BitLocker.
  5. Select Use a Password (must be at least 8 characters).
  6. Save your recovery key — save to a file or print.
  7. Select Encrypt Used Space
  8. Select Compatible Mode.

The process starts instantly and can take a few minutes, depending on the size of your USB stick. Be sure to record your password because there is no way to recover if you lose it.

To use the encrypted drive, insert it in the computer and enter the password. After it is open, you can read and write files like normal. When finished, just eject the drive.

Save Individual Files With a Password

You can’t safely password protect your entire USB stick without using encryption. However, if you shy away from the time-consuming encryption process for entire folders and need a quick way to only protect a few selected files, some applications such as Word, Excel, Numbers allow you to save those with a password.

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