Help Desk

Computing & Information Services

Securely Sharing Sensitive Data on a Mac

Email is convenient means of communication, however confidential and sensitive information should not be sent unencrypted via email.  Unsure if the material you wish to share is confidential?  Check out our page on identifying confidential information.  Still have questions?  Contact CUS before transmitting the information.

If you wish to share sensitive information via email, files should be encrypted before attaching them.  This ensures that it cannot be read by anyone other than the intended recipient(s), to whom you’ve given the encryption key (a passphrase).  The passphrase should be provided by some means other than email – such as over the phone.

Encrypting Files on your Reed Mac

To easily encrypt a file or folder on your Macintosh computer, you can install Reed’s “Encrypt Files or Folders” tool:

  1. open Managed Software Center from your Applications folder.  don't see Managed Software Center?  contact CUS!
  2. in the Software tab, look for “Encrypt Files or Folders” and click Install.
  3. after a few moments, you’ll be prompted to log out to complete the installation.  be sure to save any other documents you have open, then click Log out and update.  It will take just a minute or two for the software to be installed.
  4. log back in, and you should see the “Encrypt Files or Folders” icon in your dock.  if you don’t see it in your dock, look in your Applications folder.

After installation, using the tool is easy:

  1. click the “Encrypt Files or Folders” icon in your dock.
  2. in the window that pops up, select the file or folder you’d like to encrypt, then click Choose.
  3. Follow the on-screen prompts, and your encrypted file will be saved to your Desktop as <name of selected file>.7z.  Your passphrase will be presented on the screen – be sure you make note of it!

Using Filerobot Instead of Email for Transmission

For an extra level of security, File Robot can be used (rather than email) to send the encrypted file to the recipient. This is especially useful for sharing large files, though it can be used for files of any size.  Your File Robot and instructions for its use can be found at 

Opening Encrypted Files

Persons receiving a file encrypted with “Encrypt Files or Folders” may need to install software to open the encrypted file.

Reed Users on Macs

Staff and faculty at Reed can install the “Encrypt Files or Folders” tool as outlined above.  Once the tool is installed, double-clicking the encrypted file will result in a prompt for the passphrase.


Reed Users on Windows machines, and colleagues outside of Reed

Windows users may need to download and install the open-source tool called 7-zip in order to open files encrypted by “Encrypt Files or Folders”.  7-zip is available for free at

Macintosh users not part of the Reed community may need to download and install The Unarchiver, available free from the App Store, in order to open 7-zip encrypted files.

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