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.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

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