How to use EncryptPad for cross-platform file encryption

If you're looking for an incredibly simple solution for file encryption, stop searching and check out EncryptPad.

Image: Jack Wallen

How often do you store sensitive or near-sensitive data in text files, and then tuck them away in hidden folders, assuming they'll be safe? How many times have you wished for an easy way to encrypt a text file such as a code snippet or a binary file without having to open several applications? If you deal with these issues on a regular basis, an application called EncryptPad might be right up your alley.

EncryptPad is an open source application that allows you to view and edit symmetrically encrypted text. But don't let the simplicity fool you--EncryptPad will also let you encrypt binary files on your local drive. So the code you've been encrypting with this app that eventually turns into an can encrypt that as well.

What I like about EncryptPad (besides its convenience) is that you can create a file protected with a single passphrase or even one protected by a passphrase and a keyfile. Also, it's available for Linux, Windows, and Mac. Because Linux is my platform of choice, I'll demonstrate using EncryptPad on elementary OS.

SEE: Encryption Policy (Tech Pro Research)

Installing EncryptPad

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Add the necessary repository with the command sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8.
  3. Update apt with the command sudo apt-get update.
  4. Install EncryptPad with the command sudo apt-get install encryptpad encryptcli.

After the installation is complete, you'll find the EncryptPad entry in your desktop menu. Launch it, and get ready to encrypt your file.

Using EncryptPad

Using EncryptPad is easy. The first thing I'll show you how to do is single encryption for a text file.

1. Open EncryptPad, and you'll be greeted with a basic interface (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A
Image: Jack Wallen
The Encryptpad main window.

2. Either start typing your text or click File | Open to open a plain text file.

3. When you have the text for encryption in place, click File | Save As and then select .epd for the file extension.

4. Give the file a name, click Save, and when prompted enter and verify a password for the file (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B
Image: Jack Wallen
Adding a passphrase to a file.

5. After you verify your password, click OK and the file will be encrypted.

What's nice about this method is that you can share that file with anyone and, as long as they know the passphrase, they can open the file.

Double-encrypted files

If that single passphrase protection isn't enough, EncryptPad offers the ability to encrypt with a passphrase and a keyfile. You can do this two ways:

  • Use a previously generated keyfile (such as one from GnuPG)
  • Allow EncryptPad to generate a key for you

Let's go the simple route and have EncryptPad generate a keyfile for us. To do this, click Encryption | Generate Key. In the resulting window (Figure C), select Key In Repository and give your key a name.

Figure C

Figure C
Image: Jack Wallen
EncryptPad generating a encryption key.

You'll be prompted to enter and verify a passphrase for the key. Do that and click OK.

You'll then be asked if you want to use the generated key for the currently open file. You can click either No or Yes...either way, the key will be generated and ready to be used with any EncryptPad files.

Let's add the second piece of encryption to a file. Open EncryptPad and either open the text file to be encrypted or copy/paste the text into a new EncryptPad window. Before you save the file, click Encryption | Set Encryption Key. Now select the key you just created from the Key Repository window (Figure D) and click OK. If you know you want to use this same key for every file, you can check Persistent Key Location In The Encrypted File; if you want to use different keys for different files, do not check this box.

Figure D

Figure D
Image: Jack Wallen
Selecting the encryption key for your file.

With the encryption key selected, go to File | Save As and walk through the process of saving your file. Note: You can only save as .epd when using double encryption. Enter and confirm your passphrase for the encryption and click OK. You'll then be prompted for the keyfile passphrase--enter that and click OK.

Your file is protected by both passphrase and keyfile. If you need to share that file, you'll have to also share the encryption key you created with EncryptPad. The file will be found in ~/.encryptpad (in Linux) or in the _encryptpad directory of a Windows user's profile.

File encryption

Now you've compiled your code, and you want to encrypt the executable; or, you have some random file you want to encrypt for security. EncryptPad can make that happen.

Click File | File Encryption. In the resulting window (Figure E), check Encrypt, click Browse to locate your file for Input file (the Output file will auto-generate), enter and confirm your encryption passphrase, click Select, and then choose your keyfile (if necessary), and then click Start.

Figure E

Figure E
Image: Jack Wallen
Encrypting a file from your local drive.

The size of the input file will determine how long the encryption takes. If it's a small file, the encryption will happen almost instantaneously. If it's a larger file, it can take awhile.

One simple solution

That's all there is to EncryptPad. Give it a go, and see if you start encrypting text and files on a more regular basis, thanks to this one simple solution.

Also see

By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....