How to password protect a file or folder on Windows 11

Dave W. Shanahan

password protect

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Using password protect is a great way to guard your files and folders against people you don’t want seeing your stuff on Windows 11. As mentioned in our previous post, Windows has built-in support for basic password protection, but it’s not intended for enterprise use.

Microsoft doesn’t offer much help when it comes to providing information on how to password-protect a file or folder.

If you are looking for a quick and easy way to safeguard your files and folders from wandering eyes, here is a quick way to password-protect a file or folder.

Password protect a file or folder

Keep in mind, this method is quick and effective, but you shouldn’t be using this method for enterprise use. This method is great for protecting a few files and folders on your personal Windows 11 PC.

1. Use File Explorer to find the file or folder you want to protect. Once you find the file or folder that you want to protect, right-click it.
2. Select Properties.
password protect
3. Click Advanced… to be taken to Advanced Attributes menu for the file or folder.password protect
4. Here, you can choose the settings you want for this file or folder. Under Compress or Encrypt attributes, click the checkbox for Encrypt contents to secure data and Click OK.
password protect
If you are only trying to encrypt a file, instead of a folder, you will be greeted with an encryption warning as seen below.
password protect
Of course, the best method to protect all of your files is by putting them in a separate folder and encrypting the entire folder. However, you can choose to encrypt only the file if you wish. Once you click OK, you will be taken back to the parent folder properties.

Click Apply to apply the changes, and click OK to verify to encrypt the file and the parent folder.
You can view the encryption details whenever you want (provided you were the user who encrypted them) by following the first 3 steps and clicking on Details.

Here you can access the details of who has access to the encrypted files or folders, the encryption certificate, and available recovery procedures.
password protect

If you are looking to reverse encryption, all you need to do is go back to Properties > Advanced…(Steps 1-3) and uncheck the “Encrypt contents to secure data” checkbox and click OK to confirm the changes.

Just to reiterate, this method is quick and effective, but not intended for enterprise use. This is best used for situations where you use a shared PC and want to keep some files inaccessible for other accounts on the same device.

Just remember to lock your account (Windows key + L) when you leave your shared PC! When you log back in, your files will be unencrypted.

Not much has changed from Windows 10 when it comes to encrypting files or folders on Windows 11, but stay tuned.

Check out our extended Windows 11 coverage as these options and more may change in a future Windows 11 Preview build!

Updated November 8, 2022.