Windows Notepad is a versatile text editor included with every version of Windows. You can use it for basic tasks like taking notes and making lists, or for more advanced tasks like creating a batch file to automate commands on your computer.
Sometimes you can write something important in Notepad that requires additional security. Encrypting a Notepad text file is the best way to increase your security. So this is how you encrypt and decrypt a text file on Windows 10.
1. Windows Encrypting File System
Windows Encrypted File System (EFS) is an integrated file encryption tool available for all versions of Windows 10 except Home. EFS is not the same as Bitlocker, which can be used for full disk encryption. Instead, EFS operates on a file-by-file basis, making it ideal for encrypting text files.
To use EFS to encrypt a file, right-click the text file and select Properties. Now select “Advanced”, then select the “Encrypt content to protect data” checkbox. Click OK, then Apply.
An encryption warning appears, explaining that encrypting a single file can cause a problem under certain circumstances, and that encrypting an entire folder provides more protection. If the file is in a frequently used folder, this means that you will have to unlock the folder every time you want to access any other file. One way to get around this is to put the text file in a separate folder and use it as a protected folder.
After confirming your choice, the encrypted file system will ask you if you want to back up the encryption key. You can use a backup copy of the encryption key if you forgot your decryption password.
Export encryption key backup
Export encryption key backup
If you choose to export a backup of the encryption key for added security, the Microsoft Certificate Export Wizard starts. A wizard will guide you through creating and exporting the encryption key to an external medium, such as a USB drive.
Select “Personal Information Exchange” on the first page and select the “Export all advanced properties” checkbox. On the next page, you must enter a strong and unique password to protect your text files. Change the encryption type to AES256-SHA256 (extremely strong encryption!
When the process completes, you will see a small lock icon on the text file icon indicating its encryption status.
Did you know that the 7-Zip archiving tool also has an encryption tool? The 7-Zip option is convenient for Windows 10 Home users who cannot use Windows Encrypted File System and still want a fast way to encrypt text files.
The 7-Zip encryption process differs from the EFS variant. First, you must download and install the latest version of 7-Zip After installation, right-click on the text file you want to encrypt. Select 7-Zip> Add to Archive to open the 7-Zip archive options.
Find the “Encryption” section on the right. Enter a strong and unique password and click OK.
Now, when you want to access the file, you must enter your password to decrypt the text file (or any other file in the archive). 7-Zip Encryption Tool is a convenient way to encrypt multiple text files with minimal effort.
3. AES Crypt
You install AES Crypt as usual. After installation, right-click the text file you want to encrypt and select AES Crypt from the context menu. Enter a strong and unique password, then click OK. AES Crypt creates an encrypted copy of a text file.
The only thing to remember is to delete the original file. This is for two reasons. First, an encrypted copy is useless if someone can access the unencrypted original. Second, you won’t be able to decrypt the text file if AES Crypt detects that it still exists.
The last single file encryption tool you should look out for is AxCrypt, a powerful encryption tool with extensive features. However, you don’t need to worry about all the features – just how AxCrypt will encrypt and decrypt your text file.
Download and install AxCrypt. When you launch AxCrypt for the first time, you need to complete the configuration. You must provide an active email address to receive a verification code (which is essentially your free AxCrypt license) and then copy and paste the code before verifying.
Then you need to create a password for AxCrypt encryption. This will encrypt and decrypt your personal text files, so make sure you create a strong and unique password. As stated in the warning, resetting your password will allow you to get back to your account, but will not decrypt text files protected by the old password.
When you’re ready, drag and drop the text file into AxCrypt. AxCrypt will automatically encrypt the file. If you are logged into AxCrypt, you will not be prompted for a password to decrypt the text file. After closing AxCrypt, you will be prompted for a password.
AxCrypt is a free encryption tool, which is why it’s included in our list of the best free Windows software.
What is the best way to encrypt text files?
You have four options for encrypting text files. The easiest option is 7-Zip, which is free, easy to use, and provides strong security. However, none of the other options are difficult to use as long as you haven’t forgotten your password!
Generating a password can seem like a daunting task. If you’re having trouble, try these easy ways to create a password you’ll always remember.