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8 Ways to Keep Your Data Private on Macbook

By Carrie Murray, Wednesday, February 06, 2019

To protect your private data on Mac, you can hide the private files or folders so that when someone else is using your MacBook, he/she won't see the hidden files/folder. Or, you can have the files/folder encrypted on your MacBook so that people without the password can't open the files/folder.

This post will include 8 ways you can use to hide or encrypt files on MacBook Pro, MacBook Air. Follow one of these methods to keep your private files secure.

1. Turn on FileVault

FileVault is Apple's method to encrypt the startup drive of your Mac. With FileVault enabled, you'll need to enter the login passcode every time the MacBook starts up or wakes up from sleep. This ensures that no one can access your MacBook data without your passcode.

To turn on FileVault:

  • Go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy.

  • Click the Lock icon.

  • Click Turn On FileVault.

  • Once FileVault is turned on, it will start to encrypt all your data on the hard drive on the background.

FileVault Enabled

FileVault is a very primitive way of encrypting files on MacBook since your files are under no protection once the MacBook is unlocked. Read on for protecting your files with methods of a higher level of security.


2. Hidden Library Folder

Library folder on your MacBook is hidden by default. So if you have files or folders that you don't them to be easily found by others, hiding these files/folders to the hidden Library folder is one way to go.

You can access the hidden ~Library folder from Finder in 2 ways.

  • Click Go in the menu bar.

  • Press the Option key on the keyboard and the Library folder will be available on the Go menu.

  • Click Go > Go to folder. Enter ~Library and hit Enter key. The Library folder will be opened.

Go to Library on Mac

Move the files you want to hide to the Library folder. In this way, people won't be able to see the files unless they open the Library folder.

What if it just happens that they open the Library folder? You may get worried. Don't worry, there are more secure methods to protect your data on MacBook.


3. Hide & Encrypt Files with A Dedicated App

Hidata is an application that can not only make your files/folder invisible on MacBook but encrypt them with a password.

Download

By simply dragging the files or folders you want to hide to the app, the files/folders will disappear from their original spots immediately like that they never exist on your MacBook.

Add Files to Hide

While other people can't see the hidden files, Hidata lets you view the hidden files easily. Just enter the password you have set up and the hidden files are displayed on the app.

Unlock Encrypted Files

If there are some files that you don't need to hide anymore, you can unhide the hidden files in just one click with Hidata.

Unhide Files with Hidata

The app can be used to hide and encrypt photos, documents, videos and more. It is free to download now. (Tutorial: How to Hide Files/Folders on Mac with Hidata)


4. Move Private Files to Another User Account

With two user accounts on your MacBook, you can move those secret files to one user account and log into another user account when your MacBook is being used by other people, although it is a little troublesome to switch between two user accounts.

To move files from one user account to another:

  • Log in the user account with the private files or folders.

  • Open Finder > Go > Go to Folder, type /Users/ and click Go.

  • Find the folder named Shared and move the private data into the folder.

  • Then log in the other user account and go to the Shared folder.

  • Cut the files and paste them in the other folders of the account.

Shared Folder on Mac


5. Name Files Starting with Dot

macOS treats files starting with a dot as hidden files. You can make these files invisible on your MacBook.

For example, I renamed a photo from 123.png to .123.png. A pop-up window showed up, notifying that macOS will treats items starting with a dot as an invisible file. Click OK. The file was greyed out, indicating that it is an invisible file now. Pressed Command + Shift + Period (.) and the file disappeared and was totally hidden.

Name Files Starting with Dot

Press Command + Shift + Period (.) again, the file will appear.


6. Create A Hidden Folder on MacBook

With mkdir command on Terminal, you can create a new hidden folder and drag all your private files into the folder.

  • Open Terminal. Type in: mkdir .hiddenfolder.

  • A folder named .hiddenfolder is created in your Home directory.

  • Access the folder via Finder > Go > Home.

  • Press Command + Shift + Period (.) can make the hidden folder invisible.

Creat Hidden Folder with mkdir Command

Tip: You can name the hidden folder to whatever you like, but always add a dot at the beginning of the file name.


7. Hide Secret Files with Terminal Command(chflags hidden)

One of the commonly used command line to hide data on MacBook is: chflags hidden. Follow the following steps to perform the command in Terminal.

  • Open Terminal. Type in chflags hidden and add a space.

  • Drag the file or folder you want to hide into Terminal. Hit Enter.

Hide Files with Terminal

The files will be invisible from your MacBook. You can unhide the files with the command chflags nohidden.


8. Set the Visibility Attribute of A Folder/File to Invisible

If you have Xcode or Apple Developer Tools installed on your MacBook, you can set the folder as invisible with the following command line.

  • Launch Terminal. Enter the line: setfile -a Vand add a space.

  • Drag your secret file or folder into Terminal window. And press Enter.

Set Visibility Attribute on Mac

The file/folder will be invisible from your MacBook system. To undo the change, use the command: setfile -a v. (Note: That is to replace the uppercase V with a lowercase v)

Among all these methods, Hidata is the most effective and direct way to keep your data invisible and encrypted on MacBook. If you have some important documents, photos or videos that you definitely don't want others to see on your Mac, choose Hidata.

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