How to password-protect a ZIP file

Lukas Grigas
Cybersecurity Content Writer
Password protect a ZIP file

Today, data compression is an integral part of the workplace. Just think about it. It’s likely you have received or sent out a ZIP file sometime this week. What makes ZIP files so ubiquitous is their ability to carry more data at faster speeds than simply sending individual files.

Essentially, ZIP is a type of file format that is used to compress and archive multiple files together into a single location or file with the .zip extension.

While ZIP files might be great for transferring data quickly and easily, they are not famous for their security. But there’s a way to up the security of ZIP files and the way, as you might’ve guessed, is through passwords.

Today we’re looking at how you can password-protect a ZIP file to ensure that the file is protected. Even if it happens to land in the wrong hands, its contents will remain secure.

How to password-protect a ZIP file on Windows

The following instructions apply to the most popular Microsoft Windows operating systems such as Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, and Windows 11.

There are multiple methods to secure a ZIP file with a password.

Password-protect a ZIP file using Encrypting File System

This method of locking up your ZIP file leverages Encrypting File System (EFS), a feature built into Microsoft Windows operating systems. You are not required to download any third-party software, but you need to have the EFS feature enabled on your computer to use this method. Here’s how to password-protect a ZIP file with EFS:

  1. Right-click the ZIP file you want to protect with a password.

  2. Choose Properties and then Advanced.

  3. Select Encrypt contents to secure data.

  4. Click Apply.

  5. Decide which ZIP file elements you want to encrypt.

  6. Click the notification asking you to back up your file encryption key and choose Back up now. It will help you in case you forget your password.

  7. In the Certificate Export Wizard window, select Next twice.

  8. Create and confirm your password for the ZIP file.

  9. Name the encrypted file.

  10. Check the location of your backup file: Keep it in a safe place, and click Finish.

Done! From now on, only you can access your file freely; everybody else will be required to provide a password.

Password-protect a ZIP file using 7-Zip

7-Zip is a free and open-source file compression application allowing you to password-protect ZIP files easily. For a start, download and install the software. Once you’re all set, add the password to your ZIP file by following the steps:

  1. Select the File or Folders that you want to compress into a ZIP file.

  2. Right-click and in the drop down menu locate 7-Zip.

  3. Select Add to archive.

  4. In the menu window, locate the Archive format section and select ZIP.

  5. Locate the Set password button and click on it.

  6. Type in the password that you wish to use into the Enter password field.

  7. Retype the password in the Reenter password field.

  8. Click OK.

That’s it. Now your ZIP file is password protected and is safe from the praying eyes.

How to password-protect a ZIP file on macOS

Password-protecting a ZIP file on macOS is, in essence, a very similar process to securing a ZIP file on the Windows operating system. The difference is that macOS users need to use Disk Utility or Keka application, which is an equivalent software to 7-Zip.

Here’s how to password-protect a ZIP file on your Mac computer.

Password-protect a ZIP file using Disk Utility

Mac allows you to encrypt folders via Disk Utility (folders, not individual files). This method is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require any additional software.

  1. Create a folder of files you want to secure with a password.

  2. Go to Finder and then Applications.

  3. Click on the Utilities section.

  4. From the dropdown menu, choose Disk Utility.

  5. Select File from the top menu.

  6. Click on New Image and then Image from Folder.

  7. Select the folder you want to secure with a password and click Choose.

  8. In the Disk Utility window, decide on the kind of encryption you want to use and create the password.

    Note: Store your password in a safe place because, from now on, you won’t be able to recover your ZIP file without it!

  9. Click Choose and then Save the changes.

It’s done. To access your ZIP file, double-click on the folder and type in the password.

Password-protect a ZIP file using Keka

To add a password to a ZIP file, instead of using 7-Zip, macOS users can take advantage of Keka. You will have to pay for the application if you want to get it from the App Store, but you can also download it for free from Keka’s official website.

  1. Once you have downloaded the Keka app, you need to install it and launch it.

  2. Close the Preferences window.

  3. In the smaller window, enter your password and repeat it.

  4. Now drag and drop the files or folders that you want to compress into the Keka app window.

  5. Select the location where you want to save the new ZIP file and click Compress.

That’s it. You’re all done.

How to open a password-protected file

To open a password protected ZIP file, all you need to do is simply double click and enter the correct password. Once you enter the password, the ZIP file will be decompressed and you will be able to view its content. Note that this applies to both Windows and macOS computers.

Store and securely share passwords with NordPass

Passwords are a fact of life. We use them every day to protect our online lives. Here’s a quick fact: an average internet user has to handle around 100 passwords. The number is huge. But that’s where NordPass comes in. It’s a secure and intuitive password manager.

With NordPass, you can safely store and access passwords, passkeys, credit card details, personal information, and notes. Additionally, you can securely share passwords with other NordPass users with a Premium Plan. You should use the NordPass secure item sharing feature as a quick and easy way to share passwords that protect your ZIP files.

Thanks to the NordPass Autosave and Autofill features, you will no longer need to type your login credentials. Advanced security features such as Password Health and Data Breach Scanner allow you to identify whether any of your passwords are vulnerable or if your data has ever been compromised in a breach. These days, a password manager is an essential security tool for any person who wishes to protect their data and identity online.


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