9/2/10
9:30 pm

Forum Question: How to encrypt all emails inside Mail?

I am not using File Vault, but want to encrypt my emails in Mail. What folder is Mail using to hold all my incoming and outgoing mail so I can encrypt using an encrypted disk image, and finally how do I do it? Thanks!

— Royce

Comments: 5 Responses to “How to encrypt all emails inside Mail?”

    9/2/10 @ 9:37 pm

    Well, it is ~/Library/Mail
    But you can’t just turn that into an encrypted disk image. Mail expects it to be a folder, at that location.
    You could make an encrypted disk image, copy the Mail folder to it, and then replace the real mail folder with an alias to the copy on the disk image. I’m not sure if Mail will like that. And, of course, it will be painful if you launch Mail without the disk image being mounted.
    Using File Vault may be a better option. Why don’t you want to use it? It will encrypt everything in your user folder, but if you need to protect email, then perhaps you should be protecting your documents as well anyway.
    Another idea would be to not use Mail at all, so that your email isn’t on your Mac at all. For instance, I use Gmail (with my own domain). On my Mac Pro I use Apple Mail. But on my MacBook I access my mail through Google’s Gmail Web interface. I use https when doing so. So the email doesn’t get stored on my Mac at all. You can do the same with other email systems, like MobileMe, Yahoo, and private servers if they are set up right.

    Royce
    9/3/10 @ 12:12 am

    Apple store advised against using File Vault saying it could “brick” my Mac if a file gets corrupted.

    Right, using the Web interface of MobileMe and Gmail would solve the problem, but I wouldn’t have the convenience of accessing all my emails simply with one click on Mail in the dock.

    Looking at the Mail Pref’s again, when Mail permanently deletes Trash, will also delete messages residing locally on my Mac?

    Seems like I can set it so Mail won’t store a copy locally, but I won’t be able to Search and Mail won’t filter Spam.

      9/3/10 @ 6:09 am

      The Apple store said that? That’s weird. Why would they say that?
      There are protections against corruption of course. Plus, you would be doing a Time Machine backup anyway as another protection.
      And “brick” would mean that your Mac would be useless — a brick. A theoretical File Vault corruption would just mean your user data would need to be restored from a Time Machine backup.
      A search for file vault corruption only returns hits from 2005-2007. So maybe that was a problem with Leopard. I don’t see any reports for Snow Leopard.
      I’m not a fan of File Vault myself (not good if you edit lots of video), but it was made for situations where you need high security, which seems to be your case.
      One way to access Web-based mail with one click on your Dock is to add an alias to the Web site as an icon on your Dock :)
      As for Mail deleting trash — it should be easy enough to look in your Mail folder and see the results of a delete like that. Give it a try.
      As for spam filtering, the local Mail spam filter isn’t great anyway. Server-side filtering (SpamAssassin or Gmail’s filter, etc) are much more powerful anyway.

    Royce
    9/5/10 @ 8:05 pm

    I’d say about 5 Apple employees have said not to use File Vault, perhaps one or two old-timers remember FV not being stable and then the recommendation of not using FV spread to all the other Specialists/Geniuses?? I am pretty sure they mean “brick” as in only losing data, that you could re-install Mac OS X.

    So I could use an external HD for Time Machine, and if something happened to FV and I lost my data, I would only need to restore my home directory since the Apps on my MBP aren’t under FV anyway, correct?

    Why is FV not good if one edits a lot of video? De-crypting large files like video files is slow??

      9/5/10 @ 9:03 pm

      Right. If you have everything backed up, then you could always restore from your last backup.
      When using FV, all data in your user folder on the drive is encrypted, so for it to be read or written it needs to be decrypted or encrypted on the fly. For working on word processing documents, email, presentations, images, etc., this is no problem. A few megs here and there. But when working with video, it isn’t unusual to need to read or write gigs at a time.
      Of course you could solve this by doing your video work under another user account that isn’t using FV. Or, store your video work on external drives or partitions to get around it.

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