It shows up for normal, external hard disk drives. Is there a way I can force it to encrypt?

The installed OS X is El Capitan.

  • I'm not sure why it doesn't offer before format [but it doesn't, you're right], however, you can encrypt it at any time afterwards - this answer gives a good explanation - apple.stackexchange.com/a/181105/85275
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 24, 2015 at 9:04
  • Thank-you. I turned your comment in to a simple answer below. Dec 29, 2015 at 5:53

3 Answers 3


You can't do it from Disk Utility but you can do it from Finder by right-clicking on the partition and choosing Encrypt.

  1. Open Disk Utility and click on the drive (not the partition)

  2. Click Erase button

  3. Choose Name

  4. Choose Format: OS X Extended (Journaled)

  5. Choose Scheme: GUID Partition Map

  6. Click Erase button

  7. When complete, open Finder

  8. Right-click on the new drive partition

  9. Select Encrypt

  10. Enter passwords

  11. Finish

  • The key step here is "click on the drive (not the partition)". (by the way, I did it from Disk Utility.) Sep 5, 2016 at 2:49
  • 1
    For me, after step 10 I get "A partition, not a whole disk, is required for this operation." Could not find any way to create a partition -- the Partition button is greyed out. I also tried Erasing to select the encrypted format -- but that option does not appear May 13, 2017 at 1:29
  • 2
    Under Big Sur, when I try this, the volume format gets changed to APFS (Encrypted).
    – pcjr
    Apr 15, 2021 at 14:06
  • This converts the format to APFS.
    – 2540625
    May 6, 2022 at 0:00
  1. Open Disk Utility
  2. In the top left of the Window, select the View drop down
  3. Select Show All Devices
  4. Click on the top level external drive (Note in the image below in the sidebar how the parent device is selected)
  5. Press the Erase button and set the Scheme to GUID Partition Map

At this point, the Format option will contain the encryption options:

enter image description here

  • 6
    I can not get these steps to work in Big Sur. Encrypted doesn't appear for Mac OS Extended.
    – pcjr
    Apr 15, 2021 at 14:03

For newer versions of Mac OS (Big Sur and onward), Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted) is no longer an option. If you erase it unencrypted and then use Disk Utility to encrypt, it gets converted to an APFS file system.

Previously, I would always use Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted) for Time Machine backups. Big Sur added Time Machine support for APFS (Encrypted).

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