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How to Password Protect a Zip File on Mac

Easy steps to password protect a zip file on Mac.

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Last updated: December 6, 2023

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To password protect a zip file on Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the file and select Compress to zip the file.
  2. Open Terminal and use the zip -er testzipfile command to password-protect the zipped file.
  3. Replace testzipfile in the zip -er testzipfile command with the folder name you want to password-protect.
  4. Create a strong, unique password combining uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

If you’re looking for a handy way to store or transfer your files, you can zip them up. But without a password, your zip files won’t be secure and can be an easy target for prying eyes. Having been through my fair share of file security mishaps, I’ll share the how-tos and some tricks I’ve picked up along the way. So, let’s see how you can password protect a zip file on Mac.

How to Zip a File on Mac

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Before diving into the heavy stuff, let’s get the basics down first. You must know how to create a zip file if you want to protect your files with a password. It’s super easy, and I’m gonna break it down for you step-by-step.

All of these steps were tried on my MacBook Air M2, 2022, but they work for older models, too.

Here’s how to zip a file on Mac:

  1. Right-click the file you want to zip and choose Compress from the drop-down menu.
click compress file
  1. Mac will create a new compressed zip file in the same location as the original file.
  2. To change the name of the zip file, right-click it and select Rename.
rename zip file

Password Protect a Zip File on Mac Using Terminal

Terminal is the perfect tool to password-protect your zip files on Mac. You can use this powerful macOS built-in application to execute commands, control your system, and encrypt multiple files.

Here’s how to password protect a zip file on Mac using Terminal:

  1. Open the Terminal App on your Mac by hitting Command + Spacebar and typing Terminal in the Spotlight search bar.
type terminal in spotlight search
  1. Once the Terminal window is open, type the following command:
cd desktop
type cd desktop in terminal
  1. Type the following in the Terminal window:
zip -er testzipfile
type zip er testzipfile zip testzipfile in terminal window

Here, testzipfile is the name of the folder I want to password-protect. You can replace this with your folder name.

  1. After executing the command, you’ll be prompted to enter a password. Create a strong password containing a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  2. Type the password and press Enter.

The password will not appear on the screen as you type it for security reasons.

enter password in terminal
  1. Finally, re-enter your password to confirm it and press Enter.
verify password in terminal
  1. Your file is secure and can only be accessed using the Terminal command line with the correct password.
password protected zip file
  1. You can access the password-protected zip file and its parent folder in the original folder (desktop in this example).
password protected zip file and parent folder

How to Open a Password-Protected Zip on Mac

Now that you know how to password protect your zip files, it’s time to move onto the next level – unlocking those password-protected files!

Here’s how to unzip your password-protected files on Mac:

  1. Double-click the password-protected zip file to extract it.
  2. A window will pop up, asking you to enter the password. Enter the correct password in the password field and click OK.
enter the password for the zip file and press ok
  1. The zipped file will begin extracting, and the archive’s contents will be visible in a new folder.
  2. You can access the zip file contents by opening the new folder.
zip extracted file
  1. If you enter an incorrect password, the file will not be extracted, and you’ll need to enter the correct password to access the contents.

Tips for Creating Strong Passwords for Zip Files

Now that you know how to create and password-protect a zip file on your Mac, let’s pick a really strong password. This way, your files stay safe and private. Here are some of my tried and tested tips:

  1. 🎨 Mix It All Up: Your password should be like a secret code. Use big letters, small letters, some numbers, and even some symbols. I always use symbols like ! or ?.
  2. 🚫 No Easy Stuff: Avoid passwords that are too simple, like “password” or “1234”. Pick something that no one can guess. But don’t go overboard that even you can’t remember it.
  3. 📏 Make It Long: A good password is like a long secret message. The longer it is, the harder it is for others to guess. I always make mine at least 8-10 characters long.
  4. 🔀 Use Different Passwords: Don’t use the same password for everything. If someone finds out one password, you don’t want them getting into all your stuff.
  5. 🔒 Try a Password Manager: If making up and remembering different passwords sounds hard, a password manager can help. It makes up really good passwords and keeps them safe for you.

Troubleshooting Tips for Password-Protected Zip Files on Mac

Having trouble with a locked zip file on your Mac? It’s a common issue! Let me share a few handy tips to help you open that password-protected zip file easily.

  1. 🔍 Check the Password Carefully: Make sure you’re typing the password exactly right. Passwords are really particular about uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  2. 🔄 Try a Different Unzipping App: If the usual way to open zip files on your Mac isn’t working, try a different app. There are plenty of easy-to-use ones you can download for free via the App Store.
  3. 💥 File Might Be Broken: If the zip file doesn’t open, it might be broken. The best move is to ask the person who sent it to you to send it again or give you a new link to download it.
  4. 📞 Ask the Sender for Help: If you’re still stuck, talk to the person who sent you the file. They might have used a different password or know something else that could help.

Password Protect Zip File on Your Mac

Now that you know how to password protect a zip file on Mac, you may want to enhance the security of your system further. Here are a few steps to get you started:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are encrypted zip files on Mac?

    Encrypted ZIP files on Mac are compressed archives secured with encryption, typically AES-256. This ensures data privacy, requiring a password for access. They’re created using macOS’s Archive Utility, Terminal, or third-party software. Mac’s native support simplifies encryption and decryption processes.

  2. How can I remove the password from a zip file on Mac?

    To remove the password from a zip file on Mac, right-click the password-protected file, select Open With, and then Archive Utility. Next, enter the password, and the files will extract. Once the zip file is extracted, select File from the top menu and then Compress. It will create an unprotected zip file.

  3. Can I password-protect other file formats besides zip on Mac?

    Yes, you can password-protect other file formats besides zip on Mac using built-in encryption features. Disk Utility can create an encrypted disk image of a file or folder. You can copy the file or folder you want to protect into the encrypted disk image. You must open the disk image and enter the password whenever you want to access the file or folder.

  4. Is it safe to store passwords in a password manager?

    Yes, it is safe to store passwords in a password manager as long as you use a reputable password manager and follow best practices for password management. Password managers are designed to store and manage your passwords securely, and they typically use strong encryption to protect your sensitive data.

  5. What should I do if I forget the password for my zip file?

    If you forget the password for your zip file, you can try using a password recovery tool. However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to retrieve the password. To avoid such a situation, store your passwords in a secure location or use a password manager.

Hashir Ibrahim


I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.



Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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