Ive got a strong password on my user account on my macbook pro running OSX, which will prevent someone from booting up my laptop and logging in and viewing my files, but will this stop someone from being able to remove the HD from my laptop put it in a external hard drive enclosure and view all of my files using finder on another machine ?

Or are all the files stored in my user account encrypted using my user account login password ? If not how can i prevent someone from accessing these files if they get there hands on my laptop and remove the HD ?

Im running OSX 10.10

3 Answers 3


Unless you have turned FileVault on which encrypts your drive your files can be read by anyone who has physical access to your machine. They don't need to take the disk out and put it into an external enclosure, they can boot into single user mode which can read every thing or boot into the recovery partition and either reinstall the OS without deleting data or I think add admin users or boot of a Linux USB drive.

If you need to protect your data you must encrypt it and the Apple way is top use FileVault and then you need a password to read the drive.


No the account password does not protect your data if someone starts your computer up in Target Disk Mode or if they physically remove the drive and access it from another computer.

However, you can use FileVault.

By starting up FileVault in the Security system preferences, the entire disk will be encrypted and will not be accessible via Target Disk Mode (or even when physically removed from the system) unless you first attach it to a system that supports CoreStorage and then provide a password to unlock the disk.

  • Thanks, is FileVault quick to setup or do i have to leave it running to encrypt my c. 600gb of data on the HD ?
    – sam
    Oct 17, 2016 at 10:48
  • How long it takes depends on the drive, number of files, etc etc. However, encryption happens transparently in the background, which is a good thing because it does take a long time to finish. It is a lot slower than other encryption methods, but I'm not aware of any others that allow you to still use your computer while it's doing the encrypting.
    – Monomeeth
    Oct 17, 2016 at 10:55

What you can do is set an EFI, or firmware, password. This will protect against single user mode but will also disable the rest of the startup commands from what I have heard. I don't use them enough and haven't really tried any startup commands on my EFI password protected Mac so I can't say for certain but seems logical enough that I have no reason to question it.

However, this does not protect against someone pulling out the drive and booting externally. As the previous comments and answers have mentioned FileVault will likely be the number one solution for your specific question.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .