Software Tools for Encryption: AxCrypt

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Encrypt files with AxCrypt

Encrypt a file

Decrypt a file

Use an encrypted file


IT Help Center
Last Updated: 12/02/05
Copyright © 2005 University of Delaware

Encrypt files with AxCrypt

AxCrypt is a software program that allows you to encrypt a file that you can then send as an e-mail attachment or through the UD Drop Box. The recipient of the encrypted file decrypts it using a passphrase that you provide. There are three ways to use AxCrypt to encrypt a file:
  • Encrypt a file.
  • Encrypt and copy a file.
  • Encrypt a file to a .exe file.
Important:
  • Be sure not to send the passphrase in the same e-mail that you use for the encrypted file. You should provide the passphrase to the recipient either over the telephone or in a separate communication.
  • You must remember the passphrase you assign to the file. If you forget it, the file cannot be opened and there is no way to recover it.

Note: You cannot encrypt a folder itself. If you use an AxCrypt command on the folder, every file within the folder will be encrypted, but the folder will not.

Important Note for users of Windows encryption: If you use windows encryption to encrypt a folder and its contents and want to share a file from the encrypted folder, you will need to remove that file from the folder before you use AxCrypt to encrypt and send it. Otherwise, you will be encrypting an already-encrypted file that will not work on another machine.

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Download the AxCrypt program

You can find AxCrypt at http://axcrypt.sourceforge.net/. Note: You must be logged on as system administrator to install AxCrypt on your computer.

  1. Click Download AxCrypt file encryption software version 1.6.1 now! to download the program. Choose one of the Mirror sites and click the donwload file icon icon in the Download column.
  2. Save the file to your computer's desktop.
  3. To install the AxCrypt program, click the Axcrypt program icon icon on your desktop. Follow the installation prompts. The program will be added to your "All Programs" list in a folder named "Axon Data." Installing AxCrypt places a new item in the right-click menu of your documents:

    right-click menu

    When you select AxCrypt from the menu, you see a sub-menu with the options for encrypting a file.

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Encrypt a file

You choose a particular AxCrypt encryption option based on how you want to handle the file and on how your recipient will access it.

Encrypt a file

To encrypt a file:
  1. Right-click its icon or name.
  2. Click AxCrypt and then click Encrypt. You will see a window like the one below:

    encryption window

  3. Type a passphrase in the Enter passphrase box and then type the same passphrase in the Verify passphrase box to verify it. This is the passphrase you will communicate to the recipient so that the person will be able to open the file. Important Note: You must remember the passphrase you assign to the file. If you forget it, the file cannot be opened and there is no way to recover it.
  4. Click OK. You will see that the file icon has changed. It now has a suffix of .axx and an icon icon for encrypted file that resembles that of the AxCrypt program. If you view the properties for this file, you will see that the type now says "AxCrypt Security Wrapped."

Encrypt and copy a file

To encrypt and copy a file:
  1. Right-click its icon or name.
  2. Click AxCrypt and then click Encrypt and Copy. You will see a window like the one below:

    encryption window

  3. Type a passphrase in the Enter passphrase box and then type the same passphrase in the Verify passphrase box to verify it. This is the passphrase you will communicate to the recipient so that the person will be able to open the file. Important Note: You must remember the passphrase you assign to the file. If you forget it, the file cannot be opened and there is no way to recover it.
  4. Click OK. You will see two file icons. One is your original, unencrypted file. The other has a suffix of .axx and an icon icon for encrypted file that resembles that of the AxCrypt program. If you view the properties for this file, you will see that the type now says "AxCrypt Security Wrapped."

Encrypt a file as a .exe file

To encrypt a file as a .exe file:
  1. Right-click its icon or name.
  2. Click AxCrypt and then click Encrypt copy to .EXE. You will see a window like the one below:

    encryption window

  3. Type a passphrase in the Enter passphrase box and then type the same passphrase in the Verify passphrase box to verify it. This is the passphrase you will communicate to the recipient so that the person will be able to open the file. Important Note: You must remember the passphrase you assign to the file. If you forget it, the file cannot be opened and there is no way to recover it.
  4. Click OK. You will see two file icons. One is your original, unencrypted file. The other has a suffix of .exe and an icon encrypted .exe file that resembles that of the AxCrypt program. If you view the properties for this file, you will see that the type now says "Application." You have created a self-extracting file that can be opened by someone who does not have AxCrypt installed.

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Decrypt a File with AxCrypt

Permanently decrypt a file

To permanently decrypt a file:
  1. Right-click its icon or name.
  2. Click AxCrypt and then click Decrypt. You will see a window like the one below:

    decrypt passphrase

  3. In the Enter passphrase box, type the passphrase you have been given by the person who sent the file.
  4. Click OK. You will now see the normal file icon for the program that created it, and the file is no longer encrypted.

Open and use an encrypted file

To open an encrypted file to view or edit it:
  1. Double-click its icon or name. You will see a window like the one below:

    decrypt passphrase

  2. In the Enter passphrase box, type the passphrase you have been given by the person who sent the file.
  3. Click OK. The file will open in the program that created it. While you are working with the file, it is not encrypted. However, when you save or close the file, it is again encrypted and can only be opened with its original passphrase.

Open an encrypted .exe file

To open an encrypted .exe file:
  1. Double-click its icon or name. You will see a window like the one below:

    decrypt a .exe file

  2. In the Passphrase box, type the passphrase you have been given by the person who sent the file.
  3. Click OK. You will see a Save As box. Choose a location in which to save the file and click Save. This process produces an unencrypted file that you can open in the program that created it. It also leaves the .exe file.

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