How to create a portable, cross platform encrypted drive using TrueCrypt

March 10th, 2008 · 2 Comments


I posted a few days ago regarding the release of the new Macintosh OS X version of TrueCrypt. For those that don't know, TrueCrypt is a free, open source application that enables you to create an encrypted files that, using the TrueCrypt application, can be mounted as a drive on a host machine. The exciting thing is that this new version of TrueCrypt makes it possible to create a cross platform encrypted volumes! This post is a step by step instruction on how to create a portable, cross platform, encrypted volume that will allow you to carry your data securely and access it on any Windows, Mac and I assume Linux based computers.

Before we get into the main instruction, I want to highlight some points.

  1. [[** UPDATE **]]
    See this comment Sorry I was wrong, thank you for clearing this up
    [[** UPDATE **]]
    Currently the Mac version of TrueCrypt does NOT support hidden volumes, so if you need data to be available on Windows, Mac and Linux, you will have to forgo hidden encrypted volume functionality for the time being. Remember hidden TrueCrypt volumes you have previously created will NOT work on Macintosh computers.
  2. Currently the Mac version of TrueCrypt only seems to support the FAT file system. This is actually pretty logical . There is no native support for NTFS on Macintosh computers yet. If you already have a Windows based NTFS formatted encrypted volume, you may want to set up a new encrypted volume and format it to FAT so that you can mount the volume on multiple operating systems.
  3. Remember you will need to download the latest version of TrueCrypt

Below the fold is the full step by step instruction on how to create a free, portable, cross platform encrypted drive using TrueCrypt. The encrypted volume you create should allow you to move a secure encrypted file across windows, macintosh and linux computers. As long as you have the TrueCrypt application with you on something like a USB drive or TrueCrypt is pre-installed on your target computer you should be able to mount your encrypted file as a standard drive.

So off we go!!

  1. Open TrueCrypt on your machintosh OS X computer.

    True Crypt for OS X Defult Screen

    This is the default screen for TrueCrypt on os x

  2. Click create volume.

    Select the TrueCrypt Volume Type

    Although you are asked if you would like to create a 'Hidden TrueCrypt Volume' the macintosh OS X version currently only supports standard TrueCrypt volumes.

  3. Select or create a new file that will be replaced to become your TrueCrypt Volume.

    truecrypt_3.jpg

    In this case I have created a new file, one point to note is my choice in file extension. You could choose any extension to disguise your TrueCrypt volume, I have chosen teh file extension for Microsoft Power Point files, I know from experience these files can get pretty large, something that should help avoid the file drawing undue attention.

  4. Set the size of your TrueCrypt Volume.

    truecrypt_4.jpg

    While it is easy to put in a nice whole number as your TrueCrypt Volume size, its unusual to see large files of nice rounded file sizes, think about mixing it up a bit! :)

  5. Select the encryption Algorithm that will be used to encrypt the data in your TrueCrypt volume.

    truecrypt_5.jpg

  6. Select the Hash Algorithm that will be used to encrypt the data in your TrueCrypt volume.

    truecrypt_6.jpg

  7. Select a password to secure your TrueCrypt volume.

    truecrypt_7.jpg

    Make your password a good one, if the data is worth protecting then a weak password will only let you down, TrueCrypt will warn you if your pass word is to weak. I have actually given up devising new passwords, I let the handy cross platform password application, KeePass, generate passwords for me.

  8. Select the File System that will be used to mount your TrueCrypt volume.

    truecrypt_8.jpg

    You can currently only use FAT file system format, but thats what we want for cross platform support.

  9. Provide random seed for encrypting your TrueCrypt volume.

    truecrypt_9.jpg

    Wiggle that mouse good!!

  10. TrueCrypt will then format your TrueCrypt volume.

    truecrypt_10.jpg

  11. Your true crypt volume has been created.

    TrueCrypt Volume has been created

  12. Mount you new TrueCrypt Volume.

    Mount your OS X encrypted TrueCrypt Volume

  13. Add a file to your TrueCrypt volume.

    File added to your encrypted truecrypt volume
    In my case I have simply taken a screen grab of my desktop as an example

  14. Copy move or make availible to windows machine. Here I am using a VMWare fusion shared directory between mac os x and my Windows XP apple bootcamp partition. Open TrueCrypt on windows machine.

    Mounting the TrueCrypt Volume on a Windows XP machine

    This is the default screen for the TrueCrypt application on Windows based computers, it is similar to the Macintosh interface.

  15. Mount you new TrueCrypt Volume.

    Password entry in the Windows TrueCrypt Client

  16. Using a PPT (powerPoint file extention) results in a warning.

    File Extension Warning message

    Although using the .ppt Microsoft Power Point file extension presented no issue under OS X, the windows version of the TrueCrypt application gives you a warning that anti-virus software may impact performance of the encrypted drive.

  17. View your new mounted TrueCrypt volume containing your test file from Mac OSX on your Windows machine.

    Your cross platform encrypted disk is opened and working on Windows

    Ta Da!! my screen grab that was encrypted on the Macintosh OS X operating system, survives to be decrypted on my Windows XP Boot Camp partition.

For best results I would recommend keeping the Windows, Linux and Macintosh version of TrueCrypt on a USB drive along with your data. At least then you will have no problem accessing the encrypted data you store, wherever you store it :D .

How about donating a coffee, beer or even a round of beers for my efforts here? Thats around £2.50 for a coffee or a pint or about £10 for a round of beers. Cheers!

Tags: BitTube Thoughts · Downloads · Free Software · PortableApps · Software

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Glenn Hartmann // Mar 12, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Actually, hidden volumes in truecrypt definitely DOES work in Mac OS. You can’t actually MAKE a new hidden volume in Mac OS, but you can access and modify previously made ones.

  • 2 ros // Apr 17, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    hi..i was impressed wif ur application. may i noe wat type of software most suitable for creating the cross platform application?

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