How to Encrypt USB Flash Drive on Mac

Trying to keep your data as secure as possible? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to encrypt USB drive Mac.

Almost everyone uses computers daily, whether it’s part of their job or for personal use, and computer security has never been more important. Taking steps to protect your computer, as well as any data on it, is crucial if you want to prevent malicious individuals from accessing your files. When you encrypt flash drive Mac, all of the data stored on the flash drive is protected and it’s harder for users to access it unless they have the decryption password. In this guide, we’ll show you the different ways of encrypting a flash drive as well as how to disable encryption too.

Part 1: How to Encrypt USB Flash Drive on Mac

In the first part, we’re going to focus on how to encrypt USB drive on Mac, and there are 2 different methods we suggest for doing this – you can either do this using FileVault or Disk Utility. Both of these tools are available to all Mac users and both will get the job done.

1Encrypt USB Flash Drive with FileVault on Mac

One way to have an encrypted thumb drive Mac is to use FileVault, an encryption program that is very easy to use and which doesn’t make encryption hard for the less tech-savvy users. Note that if you are trying to encrypt a storage device with several partitions, including RAID sets, then this is not a suitable program to use. Follow these steps to use FileVault.

  • 1. Click on the Apple icon at the top-right of the screen, select System Preferences and then Security & Privacy.

  • 2. Once you select FileVault you must then press the lock symbol and type the username and password you want to use for the administrator account.

  • 3. After you click on Turn On FileVault, select a method for unlocking the disk in case you forget the administrator account details. You can choose to use your iCloud/Apple ID or a recovery key.

  • 4. Press the Continue button to finish the encryption.

It is incredibly important that you don’t lose your recovery key if this is the option you choose because if you forget it then you won’t be able to decrypt your data and it will be inaccessible. Either write down the recovery key and store it in a safe place or use the iCloud method instead.

2Encrypt USB Flash Drive in Disk Utility on Mac

Although the first method is great for encryption, it doesn’t directly encrypt flash drive on Mac which is why this next method is sometimes better. By using Disk Utility, we can choose the specific storage device that we want to encrypt – in this case, we are encrypting a USB flash drive. Before following these steps, it’s a good idea to back up the data on the flash drive since the encryption process involves formatting the devices.

  • 1. Open the Applications menu, go to Utilities, and run Disk Utility.

  • 2. On the toolbar, press View and make sure that Show All Devices has been turned on.

  • encrypt flash drive mac

  • 3. Next, on the side menu and below the External header, select the flash drive that you want to have encrypted.

  • encrypt flash drive mac

  • 4. Confirm that the correct flash drive is selected then click Erase at the top of the window.

  • 5. Enter a name for the device, select the format Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted), and select the scheme GUID Partition Map.

  • encrypt flash drive mac

  • 6. After you click the Erase button, you will be prompted to enter and verify an encryption password (and optionally a password hint).

  • 7. Click on the Erase button again and the flash drive will now be wiped, and afterwards it will be fully encrypted.

Now that you used Disk Utility to encrypt USB drive Mac, you can go ahead and store data on the flash drive with the assurance that it will be stored safely and with little risk of dangerous users accessing it.

Part 2: How to Disable USB Flash Drive Encryption on Mac

What if you change your mind and you no longer want to encrypt flash drive Mac? Although this will make your data vulnerable again, if you decide that you don’t want the flash drive to be encrypted anymore then you can remove it very easily.

Decrypt with FileVault

  • 1. Open the FileVault menu and click the padlock icon at the bottom of the page.

  • 2. Click Turn Off FileVault… and then Restart & Turn Off Encryption.

  • 3. Your Mac computer will restart and decrypt the hard drive.

Decrypt with Disk Utility

  • 1. Open the Disk Utility menu and choose the encrypted USB flash drive.

  • 2. Click on File and then Unlock USB Flash Drive.

  • 3. Type the encryption password and then click File and Turn Off Encryption.

Generally, it’s a good idea to keep the encryption just so that your data is secure, but there are some reasons for disabling it. One reason for disabling flash drive encryption is that if you use FileVault to encrypt a flash drive, you won’t be able to access the files while on a Windows computer.

Bonus Tip: Decrypt BitLocker Encrypted USB Flash Drive on Mac with BitLockerGoMac

If you encrypted a USB flash drive on a Windows computer then BitLocker encryption is used, and this isn’t compatible with Mac computers. To access the files on a BitLocker encrypted flash drive, you can use our software - iMyFone BitLockerGoMac, as long as you have the recovery key or encryption password, and you’ll be able to access features such as:

imyfone bitlockergomac product

Features of iMyFone BitlockerGoMac:

View the BitLocker USB flash drive’s files on a Mac computer without compatibility issues.

Files can be added, deleted, and modified on BitLocker flash drives.

Any storage device that has been encrypted with BitLocker can be managed with our software.

Preview the files on the BitLocker encrypted flash drive and selectively export them.

Compatible with all computers running Mac OS and Mac OS X.

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Steps about How to Decrypt BitLocker Encrypted USB Flash Drive on Mac with BitLockerGoMac:

Step 1: Download, install & launch BitLockerGoMac on Mac. Then connect a BitLocker encrypted drive to your Mac.

launch BitLockerGoMac

Step 2: Click the Mount button and enter the passcode or import the recovery key file to mount this drive.

decrypt BitLockerGoMac

Step 3: After the drive is successfully mounted, you can access the files stored on it just like a Mac computer's native drive.

read/write BitLocker drive on mac


Now you should know how to encrypt USB drive on Mac, how to remove encryption or decrypt a flash drive, and all of the best methods for doing this. Disk Utility is a great way to encrypt your flash drives because it lets use choose specific storage devices for encryption, but either of the methods are suitable. If you have a BitLocker encrypted flash drive then with the help of our software, BitLockerGoMac, you can access the files on your Mac computer without experiencing any compatibility problems!

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By  Simon Marcus , to BitLocker Drive

Updated on Aug 26, 2020

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