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Enable FileVault (whole disk encryption) on OS X 10.8


Please consult with your System Administrator before enabling FileVault on your machine.


Before enabling FileVault 2, it is important to make sure that PGP (if used before) is completely uninstalled. If you are not sure if PGP was used on your machine before, please consult your system administrator. Instructions on how to manually remove PGP from OS X. If you run into any issues, please contact the IS&T Help Desk.
  1. Navigate to System Preferences.
    Apple > System preferences

  2. Select Security & Privacy from the main System Preferences window.
    System preferences screen

  3. Choose the tab labeled FileVault and click the lock icon in the lower left-hand corner of the Security & Privacy window.
    FileVault preferences

  4. When prompted, authenticate with your user account username and password.
    Authentication screen

  5. You will again find yourself at the Security & Privacy window. Click the button labeled Turn on FileVault....
    FileVault preferences screen

  6. If there are multiple users accounts on this machine you will be prompted to give additional users access. All users that need the ability to use this machine should be given disk access-rights by clicking the button labeled Enable user..., entering that user's password, and clicking the button labeled Continue.
    Enable users screen

  7. The following screen will display the disk's recovery key. If a disk password is lost or forgotten this is the ONLY WAY to recover the data on the encrypted disk. Please write this 24 character string down and store it in a secure place. Click the button labeled Continue.
    Disk recovery key

  8. Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) will display a prompt asking if you wish to store your recovery key with Apple. Select the radio button labeled Do not store the recovery key with Apple and click the button labeled Continue.
    Apple recovery key storage message

  9. OS X will now prompt you to restart to enable FileVault and begin the whole disk encryption process. Click Restart.
    Restart message screen

  10. The login process now takes place when OS X reboots. This authentication serves two purposes: it unlocks the disk and logs the selected user in.
  11. Upon reboot, the Security & Privacy window will open again and display the amount of time remaining until the disk is fully encrypted. The machine can be used during this time period.
    Encryption progress bar

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

January 02, 2013

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