Hi everyone I have encrypted a partition of an external hard drive from the mac desktop. I pressed that key button then pressed memorable and it changed my entire password unknowingly. I need help. All I know now is that its 12 characters long.

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I have loads of pictures and videos on there from when my kids were born. Please someone help me I beg you. Also please don't tell me its impossible because nothing is impossible.

  • 5
    You need the password or the recovery key to decrypt the hard drive. Have you checked Keychain.app if it's saved there?
    – orkoden
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 18:31
  • That is strange, because you still need to verify the password even if you choose one if the suggestions or not?
    – n1000
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 6:03
  • 1
    When you encrypted the drive, did you select to option to store your recovery key with Apple? If so, you can contact their customer support and answer the security questions to get your recovery key. Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 6:41
  • Nope didn't ask to retype it.
    – Drew
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 0:12
  • 1
    Apple only saves internal disk passwords which is stupid
    – Drew
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 0:13

1 Answer 1


You could see about getting a quote from a data recovery team to attempt to reverse engineer your situation. Since you are fairly certain that the key is 12 characters long, that significantly reduces the number of passphrase that must be attempted to unlock the volume.

Also, paying a professional to do this means you are only renting the equipment and/or software to try each combination rather than needing to fund that yourself.

Since the encryption takes time and is reversible, it clearly is possible to brute force this, but I would get a quick feeling for how much of the drive is encrypted by saving the output of diskutil list and diskutil cs list and then ejecting the drive and powering it off until you can get it in the hands of a pro.

Also, you do have to re-type the entire password manually and then confirm the operation, so perhaps you just had a normal software error and didn't establish the encryption. Best of luck with the recovery. Losing data is no fun and having baby pictures only on one drive is not something I ever like to confront - yet it does happen and the pain is awful in most cases to lose those artifacts of the time and memory.

  • Thanks buddy but Ive talked to so many companies and they tell me that even with 10000 computers it would still take about 1000 years to brute force. It did not ask for verification. Apple simply picks a strong password for you and automatically verifies it when you use the key.
    – Drew
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 21:10
  • Heres what some hackers told me: hackforums.net/showthread.php?tid=4694982
    – Drew
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 21:12
  • @Drew Bummer - I didn't register for the forum, but if the encryption actually finished, you're probably going to have to wait for some breakthroughs. If the encryption didn't finish - you might be able to buy $100 software to recover all the files that haven't been encrypted yet. Hard to know without the diskutil cs list item.
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 21:45

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