How To Encrypt Evernote On Mac OSX

In yesterday’s post, we discussed how to encrypt your Evernote database on Windows. Today, we will be going through how to do the same thing using Mac OSX. Unfortunately it is slightly more cumbersome, but it is certainly do-able.

Encrypting Text Inside A Note

The “official” way to do encryption in Evernote is to simply encrypt any sensitive text in a note. This is easily done in the Evernote UI

Step 1: Select the text you want to Encrypt.

Step 2: Right-click (or Command-Click) and choose Encrypt Selected Text.


Step 3: Make up a passphrase that you will later use to decrypt this text. Note: This phrase is never sent to Evernote’s servers, and they have no way of retrieving it for you. If you forget it, you are out of luck. Also, this text can not be decrypted in mobile or web Evernote – just in the Mac client.


Step 4: Your text will now show as encrypted in Evernote. To decrypt it, click it and enter your passphrase from Step 3.


Encrypting Your Evernote Database

Here is where things get fun. Evernote itself does not support any database encryption, so what we are going to do is create what is called an encrypted sparsebundle, then move our Evernote database to it, then trick Evernote into looking there for our files instead of in the normal location.

What is an encrypted sparsebundle? Despite the somewhat wacky name, it’s pretty simple. You can think of it as a file that you are going to create on your Mac’s harddrive that your Mac will treat as a drive. You can save and read files to it just like you can a normal drive or USB key.

When you read this it might look kinda technical, but its not that bad. Ready? Lets do it.

Note: You are going to be be moving around your Evernote files. If this scares you, I recommend you don’t proceed. If you delete everything by accident, I am not responsible!

Step 1: Click on Applications, then Utilities and choose Disk Utility

Step 2: Go to File, then New then Blank Disk Image


Step 3: In the Save As field give your file a name, and in the Documents field choose the folder where you want to save it. You can put it on your Desktop if you want.

Step 4: In the Volume Name field, give your image a name. If you’re just going to use it for Evernote you can call it EVERNOTE or something.

Step 5: In Volume Size, you probably want to give it a size that is a bit bigger than your ~/Library/Application Support/Evernote folder. My folder is 310 MB so I am going to make my image 500 MB. Don’t worry about this too too much as our image will automatically grow as needed. Leave Volume Format as MacOS Extended (Journaled).

Step 6: In Encryption, choose either 128 bit or 256 bit, depending on how hardcore you are.

Step 7: In Image Format, choose sparse bundle disk image

Here is what it looks like so far. If yours looks good, hit Create!


Step 8: It will prompt you to create a password and tell you how strong it is. It would be kind of strange to go to all this trouble to encrypt your Evernote and then use a super-weak password, but do what you need to do.

Step 9: Alright! You now have a new encrypted disk image created! If you go to Finder and look at the folder you specified in step 3, you’ll see your new file.


When you double click it and enter the password you created in Step 8, your new image will be mounted like any external drive or USB key.


Step 10: OK, now we need to move your Evernote stuff to your new encrypted image. First, make sure you quit Evernote

Step 11: In Finder, go to your home directory, then Library, then Application Support

Step 12: Drag the Evernote folder from there to your new drive.

Step 13: Make sure the Evernote folder copied over, something like this:


Step 13: Delete the Evernote folder in ~/Library/Application Support

Step 14: Open Terminal by going to Applications, then Utilities, then Terminal

Step 15: Type this, where the capital EVERNOTE is whatever you called it in Step 4, and yourusername is, of course, your Mac OSX username.

ln -s /Volumes/EVERNOTE/Evernote /Users/yourusername/Library/Application\ Support/Evernote

Step 16: Now when you look at ~/Library/Application Support, you should see the Evernote folder there with a little arrow. That means it has a “symbolic link” to the folder in your encrypted image and Evernote will be tricked into thinking it is reading it from the standard place.


Step 17: Alright! The moment of truth! Start up Evernote. Hopefully all your stuff will be there. If so, good job!

One thing to remember about this is that before you start Evernote, you must mount your Evernote sparsebundle that you created, either by double clicking it or adding it to your login items or something. Otherwise, Evernote will not know where to find your files.

Clear as mud? Do you have any other methods you use to encrypt Evernote? Let us know in the comments.

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35 Responses to “How To Encrypt Evernote On Mac OSX”

  1. Normanm4 January 22, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

    Good articles, thanks for the useful info…2 questions:

    Why not just use truecrypt for mac as you did for windows yesterday? Or was this to point out the built in option in mac?

  2. Acid April 6, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    Espionage do the same but automatically if you open EN. But good starting point for writing a AppleScript 1. Open the sparsebundle 2. Open Evernote

  3. jammer(six) April 28, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    Too bad your docs aren't encrypted on the Evernote servers… Yes, you can encrypt the text in notes, but not things like pdfs. Thus, if someone on their end wanted to take a peak, they could. :-(

  4. John Wu July 8, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    Don’t forget to also sym-link your cache files in /Users//Library/Caches/Metadata/com.evernote.Evernote or you could be leaving latent sensitive data unencrypted on your local drive.

    @jammer(six) I keep a local notebook on my main workstation with the sensitive / critical data I cant have sync’ed to the cloud. When I take a note of similar nature on my mobile devices or from the web I move that note when I get back to my workstation so it doesnt remain on Evernote’s remote servers.

  5. Chris November 13, 2010 at 4:25 am #

    All goes fine (I can see all my Evernote database files by following the alias) until I Iaunch Evernote, then it hangs and the beachball just keeps spinning so I have to switch off the machine and restart.

    • BrooksD November 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

      Hi Chris, that's really strange. I wonder if a newer version of Evernote breaks these instructions (not sure why it would). When I get a chance I'll re-try it and see if it works for me.

  6. Carlos December 29, 2010 at 7:57 am #

    Thanks. It really works fine. I am a switcher coming from Windows XP and I am really pleased with the enormous potential of MacOSX.

    • BrooksD December 29, 2010 at 8:06 am #

      Great Carlos and congratulations on making the switch! :)

  7. Gavin January 19, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    Awesome! many thanks for the tip on moving the database and creating the symbolic link.
    I've successfully moved my database an external drive (i.e. my external drive, not the company-supplied Macbook).
    :-) :-)

  8. Yogi February 26, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Hi, I'm getting an error when I type in the location in Terminal. It says no such file or directory. Where am I breaking down?

  9. Yogi February 26, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Ok, now I am getting a file that says Evernote with an arrow, but not a folder

  10. Yogi February 26, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    finally got it!

    • BrooksD February 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

      Great, glad to hear Yogi. Let me know if there was something I could make more clear.

  11. John Doe April 16, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    Even though it's synced w/ the cloud, I'd suggest backing up the Evernote database before the procedure.

  12. Steve December 21, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    I’ve done an entire disk encryption with my Mac Mini… so, not only is the Evernote DB encrypted, but everything else is, as well.

    This, too, is an option.

    • BrooksD December 21, 2011 at 11:01 am #

      Great point Steve, thanks!

  13. Anbranin January 3, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    @Yogi. How did you fix your problem? I am having the same thing happen. In terminal, it says "no such file or directory". Everything is in my evernote sparsebundle, deleted from application support…

  14. Anbranin January 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    Basically, I got it to say "file exists" by typing in different combinations of stuff, and I even got it to put Evernote in Application Support again. By this point, Evernote has synced with its online servers and forgotten I have local notes. I then need to delete all the evernote files, then put them back in, then restart evernote. I've created two different sparsebundles, I'm thinking of starting over entirely, but what is it about the terminal commands that aren't working for me? I typed in everything, then pressed enter. Even the spaces, the / and , the capital letters.. I did it so many times I'm positive it's correct. I am only very basically Unix Literate though, so the chance that I'm missing something is good.

  15. Anbranin January 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Forgot to mention, there's never, ever any little arrow that indicates it's an alias or whatever.

    • BrooksD January 4, 2012 at 9:57 am #

      Hm, if there's no arrow it makes me think that there is something wrong with the Symbolic Link. This is possibly a dumb question, but when you made the symbolic link and when you are trying to access the folder, is the sparsebundle mounted (in other words, did you double click it and enter your password so that you have an, in this example, EVERNOTE drive showing in the Finder).

      • Anbranin January 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

        Know what? I got it to work. I can't say exactly what I did, but I do know I apparently created a good Symbolic Link yesterday, but it was placed in the wrong spot. So, I did everything over again today, then happened to see it, says it was created yesterday… I moved it into Application Support, and now it works.
        Of course, someone could still open Evernote on my computer and see everything that downloads from the servers, just not the local notes. I guess I just should put everything sensitive in local notes huh?

        • Anbranin January 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

          Never mind, Evernote won't even open if I don't have the disk mounted. It just says "file name invalid" and quits. Awesome! Sorry I comment so much. I tend to think by typing.

          • BrooksD January 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

            Not a problem, I do the same!

  16. Anbranin January 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    I tried mounting the folder at different times. Actually, the first time I did all of this, I forgot to mount it. I started over.. then started over again, first mounting before I made the Symbolic link and then afterwards. WHen exactly should I mount my new drive?

  17. Mr Ed March 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    Anyone tried Datalocker from Appsense yet? Looks easy

  18. Jeff H August 4, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    For others coming to this post after Installing Evernote 3.3.0

    Wanted to make you aware that the most recent update to the Mac Evernote application (version 3.3.0) has changed the location of the EN database mentioned above.

    Instead of the using the folder ~/Library/Application Support/Evernote, it is now located at ~/Library/CoreData/com.evernote.Evernote.

    The steps remain the same except to use this new com.evernote.Evernote location instead.

    • Justin December 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

      That saved me a lot of hunting!

  19. dmosley June 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    IMPORTANT UPDATE: Evernote 5.x+

    I followed each of the steps above. Simple enough. I've created sym-links before. So, nothing technically new. However, THIS SEEMS TO NO LONGER WORK with the current version of Evernote (5.x).

    NOTE: Evernote did update where it stores the database file. It's now stored here:


    I made these changes in steps 11-16 above and still no luck.

    Am I doing something wrong? Gonna do some Googling around.

    • Joe September 16, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      you have to correct the Container.plist as well. Near the bottom of the file you'll find <Key> and <String> values that will be incorrect after moving the application.

  20. dmosley June 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    Try MacFort. It's a much easier (and more efficient) method for accomplishing the same thing.

  21. Evernote_useer January 3, 2014 at 7:38 am #

    It is a sandbox protection thing at the OS level. You have to go one level deeper and then it will work in the AppStore version of Evernote:
    ln -s /Volumes/DiskImage/EN/Data /Users/ZZZ/Library/Containers/com.evernote.Evernote/Data

  22. jesse January 22, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    From this process, is your data just encrypted on your own machine but still not in the Evernote cloud right? The only option for encrypting on Evernote servers themselves would be to use their own encryption inside the note, correct?

    • BrooksD January 24, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      That’s right. You don’t have much control over what Evernote does on their end, other than encrypting the text in a note, or encrypting a PDF locally before adding it to a note.

      • Jesse January 24, 2014 at 11:01 am #

        Ok thanks Brook for the info.

  23. robert July 2, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    You forgot to include the part where you make a new local notebook so it can’t be synced with the cloud

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