Create Hidden and Password-Protected Folders in Ubuntu

Previously, we have written about a free, open-source program for creating an encrypted file store for protecting your private files in Ubuntu (see our posts, Create an Encrypted File Store in Ubuntu – Part One and Create an Encrypted File Store in Ubuntu – Part Two).

This post covers another method, using a program called Cryptkeeper, which allows you to protect your private information by creating encrypted folders that can be easily hidden from other users gaining access to your system. An encrypted folder, created in Cryptkeeper, must be mounted to be accessed and a password is required to mount it.

To install Cryptkeeper, select Ubuntu Software Center from the Applications menu.

Opening the Ubuntu Software Center

The Ubuntu Software Center dialog box displays. Enter “cryptkeeper” (without the quotes) in the yellow search box. As you type, matching results are displayed in the list. When Cryptkeeper is available in the list, click the Install button.

Searching for Cryptkeeper

On the Authenticate dialog box, enter your password in the Password edit box and click Authenticate.

Authenticate dialog box

The installation progress displays on the Ubuntu Software Center dialog box.

Installation progress

When the installation is finished, select Close from the File menu to close the Ubuntu Software Center.

Closing the Ubuntu Software Center

To open Cryptkeeper, select System Tools | Cryptkeeper from the Applications menu.

Opening Cryptkeeper

A key ring icon displays on the top panel.

Cryptkeeper icon on panel

Click on the key ring icon to access the menu for Cryptkeeper. To create a new, encrypted folder, select New encrypted folder from the drop-down menu.

Creating a new, encrypted folder

The Create a new encrypted directory dialog box displays. Navigate to the location where you want to create your encrypted directory and enter a name for the directory in the Name edit box. Click Forward.

Entering a name and choosing a location for the new, encrypted folder

Enter your password in the Enter a password for your new encrypted folder edit box and again in the Enter the password again edit box. Click Forward.

Entering a password for the new, encrypted folder

A message displays that the new encrypted folder was created. Click OK to close the Create a new encrypted directory dialog box.

New, encrypted folder created

The default file browser program automatically opens to the encrypted folder location. You can specify which file browser program to use as the default in the preferences for Cryptkeeper. We discuss this at the end of this post.

Encrypted folder open in the File Browser

The encrypted folder also displays like a mounted drive on the desktop.

Encrypted folder mounted like a drive on the desktop

Encrypted folders you have created are listed in the Cryptkeeper menu accessed using the key ring icon on the panel. A check mark displays to the left of any encrypted folders that are mounted. To unmount an encrypted folder, simply click the key ring icon on the panel and select the folder from the drop-down menu so the check mark goes away.

Unmounting an encrypted folder

To mount an encrypted folder, click the key ring icon on the panel and select the folder from the drop-down menu so there is a check mark to the left of the encrypted folder path.

Mounting an encrypted folder

When you select an encrypted folder to be mounted, a dialog box displays asking for your password to gain access to the folder. Enter your password in the edit box and click OK.

Entering the password to open an encrypted folder

Cryptkeeper does not automatically start when you boot into Ubuntu. You have to manually start the program to have access to your encrypted folders. But, there is a way to have it automatically start when you boot into Ubuntu. To do this, select Preferences | Startup Applications from the System menu.

Opening Startup Applications

The Startup Applications Preferences dialog box displays. Click the Add button.

Clicking Add on the Startup Applications Preferences dialog box

On the Add Startup Program dialog box, enter Cryptkeeper as a name for the startup program in the Name edit box. You can use the Browse button to select the command to run for the Command edit box, or you can just enter the following line in the Command edit box.

/usr/bin/cryptkeeper

Enter a comment for the startup program in the Comment edit box. Click Add.

Entering information about Cryptkeeper to automatically start it

Cryptkeeper is added to the list of Additional startup programs. Click Close.

Closing the Startup Applications Preferences dialog box

Cryptkeeper allows you to access options for each encrypted folder on the menu. To view options for an encrypted folder, click the key ring icon on the panel and right-click on the desired encrypted folder. To view information about the selected encrypted folder, select Information from the submenu.

Getting information about an encrypted folder

An Information dialog box displays. The Crypt directory and the Mount directory, which is the local directory into which the encrypted directory is mounted, are displayed along with some other technical information. Click Close.

Information dialog box for an encrypted folder

If you decide you want to delete an encrypted folder, click the key ring icon on the panel and right-click on the folder you want to delete. Select Delete encrypted folder from the submenu.

NOTE: An encrypted folder does not have to be mounted to be deleted.

Deleting an encrypted folder

A confirmation dialog box displays to make sure you really want to remove the encrypted folder. Click OK if you are sure.

Delete confirmation dialog box

There are a few settings you can change in Cryptkeeper. To change these settings, right-click on the key ring icon on the panel and select Preferences from the popup menu.

Opening Cryptkeeper Preferences

The Cryptkeeper Preferences dialog box displays. If you want Cryptkeeper to open a different file browser when an encrypted folder is mounted, enter the command for that file browser in the File browser edit box. You may have to enter the full path to the file browser’s executable, if only entering the command doesn’t work.

If you want Cryptkeeper to automatically unmount an encrypted folder after a specified number of minutes, enter the desired number of minutes in the Unmount after idle (minutes) edit box.

The mount point is a folder you define on your hard drive that contains the files from an encrypted folder when you mount it. By default, Cryptkeeper creates the specified mount point, or folder, when you mount an encrypted folder, and deletes the mount point when you unmount the encrypted folder. If you want the folder you defined as a mount point to NOT be deleted when you unmount an encrypted folder, select the Do not delete mount point when unmounting check box.

Changing Cryptkeeper Preferences

If you want to take your encrypted folder with you, create your encrypted folder on a USB flash drive and mount it from there.

by Lori Kaufman

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