Protecting Personal Files on OS X from Unwanted Viewers with TrueCrypt

The best way to protect your data from unwanted viewing is to use encryption. In Part I of this tutorial we created a simple encrypted image using the Disk Utility application included with OS X. Now, let’s create a custom encrypted ultra secure image to store personal files that can be used in Windows, OS X and Linux. It’s actually easy to do with the open source TrueCrypt and here’s how:

Creating an encrypted image with Truecrypt:

1. Download and Install TrueCrypt if you haven’t already.

2. Choose “Create Volume”. - Creating a TrueCrypt Volume

3. Choose “Standard” and press next.

4. Choose “Select File…” and name your new encrypted volume. - Creating a TrueCrypt Volume

Note: By default it will save this in your Documents folder. I recommend saving it to the Desktop so we can find it quickly when its ready.

5. After you click “Save” and return to the TrueCrypt wizard, press next.

6. Give your volume a size. - Creating a TrueCrypt Volume

Note: For this tutorial, we will use 256mb but you can choose whatever size you like.

7. Choose your encryption. For ultra security you can choose a cascade of encryption (volume will be independently encrypted 3 times). I recommend Serpent-Twofish-AES as it’s faster than AES-Serpent Twofish - Creating a TrueCrypt Volume

Note: For more information about the encryption, visit TrueCrypt’s online manual.

8. Before we click Next, we need to choose Whirlpool as our Hash Algorithm. - Creating a TrueCrypt Volume

9. Choose a strong password for your encrypted volume and press “Next”. - Creating a TrueCrypt Volume

Note: For more advanced password protection, you may choose to use Keyfiles. These are specific files that must be chosen in order to unlock the encrypted volume. I recommend using these for advanced users only. For more information about keyfiles, visit TrueCrypt’s documentation.

9. Choose FAT as your filesystem type and click Next. - Creating a TrueCrypt Volume

10. In this next step, you want you randomly move your mouse around to seed the random generator. The more you move it around, the better. When you are ready click Format to create your volume. - Creating a TrueCrypt Volume

11. Your TrueCrypt volume is now ready!

Opening and Using your TrueCrypt Volume:

Now that you have created a TrueCrypt Volume, its time to use it. Since we created a 256mb volume, let’s first copy it to a USB drive just like a regular file. Now, open TrueCrypt and follow these instructions to use your encrypted volume.

1. In TrueCrypt’s main screen, choose “Select File…”.

2. Navigate to where the file is saved and press “Open”. - Creating a TrueCrypt Volume

3. Now, back on TrueCrypt’s main screen, select “Mount”.

4. Enter your TrueCrypt volume’s password. - Creating a TrueCrypt Volume

5. Your encrypted volume will now mount, just like a second USB drive or a downloaded .DMG file.

6. Store and use your personal files within this volume.

7. When you are done, select the volume on TrueCrypt’s main screen and choose “Dismount”. - Creating a TrueCrypt Volume

Now your personal files will be safe and secure from prying eyes. Just remember to backup in case anything is lost!

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