Does your Mac contain important data? Are others using your device? Are you prone to accidentally changing or deleting critical files? Either way, locking your most precious files down can help prevent data loss and future frustrations.
In macOS, you can use Finder and Terminal to lock files and folders to keep the most important ones safe. Let's take a closer look at file locking and how each method works.
Reasons for locking files and folders in macOS
The main reason for locking files and folders in macOS is to avoid accidentally changing or deleting important items. How useful this feature is depends on how you and others use your device.
If you share your user account with others, it can be advantageous to block your most valuable items. Even if you are a single user, accidents happen and any additional protection against data loss is worth the effort.
Here's how it works: Locking a document or other editable item means you can open the file and read its contents, but macOS prevents you from making changes. In addition, locking an entire folder will apply the setting to all items in it and protect all items from being changed accidentally.
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If you try to delete a locked file, macOS will prompt you for confirmation before moving the item to the trash.
Lock and unlock files and folders in macOS using the Finder
The fastest, easiest way to lock a file or folder in macOS is through the Finder. The process goes like this:
- Ctrl-click the items you want to lock.
Choose get information.
Tick it Locked Crate.
That's all it takes Locking now protects the item from changes until you undo the operation. To unlock the file, simply remove the check mark from the Locked Box in the get information Window. Locked items always show a small padlock on their symbol in the Finder, which makes identification easier.
Locking and unlocking files and folders in macOS with the Terminal
If you prefer to do things the hard way, you can use command lines to lock and unlock items. Although rarely required for simple tasks in macOS, Terminal is a great tool for learning when complex problems arise. First, do the following steps to check the lock status of an item:
Enter the Terminal command below and replace (File path) with the location of the item (for example ~ / downloads / document.rtf): ls -lO (File path)
Press To return.
the uchg The flag indicates whether the element is locked or not. if uchg appears in the output, there is a lock. if uchg does not exist, the article is unlocked.
How to block an article with the terminal
To lock a file or folder using Terminal, do the following:
Enter the following Terminal command and replace (File path) with the location of the item (e.g. ~ / downloads / document.rtf): chflags uchg (File path)
Press To return.
The file should now be locked just as it would if you had used the Finder method.
How to unlock an item with the terminal
To unlock a file or folder using Terminal, do the following:
Enter the following Terminal command and replace (File path) with the location of the item (e.g. ~ / downloads / document.rtf |): chflags nouchg (File path)
Press To return.
As you can see, a simple "no" to the uchg Flag instructs macOS to set the status of the item to unlocked.
Locking is just a method of protection
When it comes to locking and unlocking items in macOS, using the Finder is by far the easiest solution. However, you can use Terminal if you want to make the task a little more complex.
Locking is not an encryption method, nor does it prevent others from accessing your files. A locked item only needs to be unlocked before you can make any changes. If you need additional password protection for your data, you need to explore some of the encryption options available in macOS.
Do you want to keep personal data safe? How to encrypt a file
Encrypting folders protects your data from hackers. How to password protect files on Windows and Mac.
About the author
(34 articles published)
Matt is an Australian freelance writer with a degree in creative and critical writing. Before his studies, he worked in technical support and gained valuable insights into the technology and its users. His real passion is storytelling and he hopes one day he will be able to write a well-published novel.
By Matt Moore
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