Encrypt Zip File on Mac: A Guide to Encrypting Zip Files on Mac

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Zipping or compressing your files helps you save space on your hard drive and makes it easy to share documents and folders via file-sharing services such as Google Drive and Dropbox. If you are compressing files that contain sensitive information, you might want to go a step further to protect the data inside your files from prying eyes. Fortunately, MacOS lets you create password-protected compressed files.

Of course, encrypting zip files on Mac can be pretty confusing if you've never done it before. Are you struggling to password-protect your zip file on your Mac? Here's everything you need to know about encrypting zip files on a Mac.

What is an encrypted ZIP file?

Zipping offers a quick and easy way to compress files and folders down to a much smaller size without losing any quality. It's a fairly simple process; all you have to do is select the files you want to bundle and right-click. But you may have a group of files that you want to zip and encrypt for business or financial reasons, which is where things get a bit complicated.

An encrypted zip file is simply a compressed file that's also password protected. You want to encrypt a zip file if you don't want just anyone to open it. Encrypting a zip file locks down the archive so that only people with the password can view its contents. While zipping and unzipping files is incredibly easy, creating an encrypted zip file takes a little more effort.

How to encrypt zip files on Mac

When it comes to encrypting compressed files on MacOS, there are two ways to go about it. You can encrypt compressed files on your Mac without an additional program or application, but there's a caveat. You have to enter the commands manually into your computer via Terminal.

Using Terminal can be pretty intimidating, especially if you have not used the app before. No need to worry though, here's a step-by-step guide on how to use Terminal to password-protect compressed files on your Mac.

  • Open Terminal. Navigate to Finder > Utilities and click on the Terminal app. You can also press Cmd + Space bar to activate Spotlight search and type 'Terminal.'
  • Set the directory. The next step is to set the destination of the files that you want to zip and password-protect. Type 'cd' and the location of the file or folder that you want to compress and encrypt. Type' cd downloads' if the file you're looking to compress is saved in the Downloads folder.
  • Compress and encrypt. Enter the command 'zip -er FILENAME.zip' without the quotes and replace FILENAME with what you want to name your encrypted zip file. Add a space and drag the file/folder to the Terminal window, and press Return.
  • Enter password. At this point, assuming everything's done right, you'll be prompted to enter and verify the password. Type the password you want to use and hit Return twice. Note that you won't see any characters on the command line when typing your password.

And that's it; you've created an encrypted zip file or folder. You should be able to see the password-protected zip file on the set directory. Alternatively, you can compress and password-protect files using third-party utilities such as WinZip. If encrypting zip files is something you find yourself doing regularly, you're better off using a third-party app.


Terminal is a great tool for compressing and password-protecting files and folders on MacOS. However, Terminal is a bit convoluted, especially for first-time users. Using a third-party app such as WinZip is a much better option for most users in terms of ease of use and capability.

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