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Encrypt your files on Chrome OS with Vaults

Ever wanted to encrypt your private files and documents on your Chromebook? You can, with the Vaults Linux app. It uses encryption to create locked containers that you can use to keep your data safe.

Vaults hero image.

How to Enable Linux on Your Chromebook

The Linux settings menu for Chrome OS.

Chromebooks can run Linux applications through the “Linux development environment,” but it needs to be enabled first. To enable this feature, start by clicking on the “clock” icon in the Chrome OS dashboard. Inside the “Clock” area, find the “Gear” icon and click on it with the mouse to load up the “Settings” area.

Once inside the Chrome OS settings area, find the “Advanced” section and click on it. When you select “Advanced,” a wide variety of options will appear in the Chrome OS settings area that were not there before, including “Developers.” Click on “Developers,” and locate the “Linux development environment” area.

In the “Linux development environment” area, find the “Turn on” button and click on it with the mouse. When you select the “Turn on” button, Chrome OS will set up Linux support on your system. It will also download a terminal application and launch it. When the terminal app is open on your Chromebook, locate “Penguin” and click on it to access the command-line interface for the Chrome OS Linux system.

When the terminal app is open, you’ll need to do some maintenance. Specifically, you’ll need to update the container and install any software upgrades that are pending so that everything is up to date. To do this, start by using the apt update command.

sudo apt update

Once you’ve finished running the apt update command, it is time to run the apt upgrade command. This command will install all pending upgrades in the Linux container so that the Linux apps you run on your Chromebook perform at their best.

sudo apt upgrade -y

With the Linux container up to date, you’re ready to install Linux apps like Vaults.

How to Install Vaults on Chrome OS

To use Vaults on Chrome OS, you must first install CryFS and GoCryptFS. The reason you must install these filesystems is that the app doesn’t bundle them. So, if you wish to use the Vaults app, this is a required step.

To start, launch a terminal window. You can launch a terminal window on your Chrome OS by searching for “Terminal” in the app menu. Once you’ve launched it, search for “Penguin,” and click on it with the mouse to access the command-line interface.

In the Chrome OS Linux command-line interface, use the apt install command to install both the CryFS and GoCryptFS packages on your system. The installation of these packages will not take long.

sudo apt install cryfs gocryptfs

Once these two packages are successfully installed on the Linux container via your Chromebook, you’ll have two encryption backends to choose from in Chrome OS. However, the setup process for Vaults isn’t done. You now need to set up Flatpak, the sandboxed packaging system for Linux that allows you to get Vaults working on your Chromebook.

Note: You will also need to install a Linux file manager to browse your encrypted vaults in the Vaults app.

To get these packages working, use the apt install command once again. This package handles everything you need to run Flatpak apps on Chrome OS.

sudo apt install flatpak nautilus

When the Flatpak package is set up, you need to install the Flathub app store so that the Vaults app can be installed, as Flathub is where it is hosted. To install Flathub, do the following:

flatpak --user remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://dl.flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

Finally, install the Vaults application on your Chromebook using the following flatpak install command:

flatpak install flathub io.github.mpobaschnig.Vaults

Encrypt your files on Chrome OS with Vaults

To encrypt your files in a vault with Vaults, you need to first create a vault. Here’s how to create your very first vault: To start, launch the “Vaults” app on your Chromebook via the “Linux apps” folder. Once it is open, find the “+” icon, and click on it with the mouse.

Once you’ve selected “+,” select the “New vault” button. Upon selecting the “New vault” button, enter the name of the vault you wish to create in the “Name” box. Then, choose your backend. You can use either GoCryptFS or CryFS. Click next when done, to move to the next pageThe Vaults app shows the encryption backend configuration area.


You must now choose a password for your vault. Enter something memorable, yet secure. You’ll need to enter this password twice to confirm it. When you’ve finished filling out your passwords, click “Next” to continue.

The user has filled out a password to encrypt the vault.

On the next page, the Vaults app will tell you where your encrypted data directory will be stored, as well as where the mounted, unencrypted folder is located. Click the “Add” button to confirm the creation of your new vault on Chrome OS.

The Vaults app shows the user where the newly created vault will be saved.

Accessing your vault

To access your vault, do the following: First, open up the Vaults app on your Chromebook via the “Linux apps” directory. Then, find your vault in the “Vaults” app. Select the lock icon in the vault to unlock it.

The vaults app displaying available vaults.

After selecting the “Lock” icon, enter your vault’s password. Once your password is accepted, it’ll be decrypted. Select the folder icon to launch it in the Linux file manager you installed previously. You can then add files to your vault.

The Vaults app shows the

Pro-tip: To add files to your vault from Chrome OS, open up the Chrome OS Files app, add your files to the “Linux” folder, and then open your vault with the Linux file manager to add them to the vault.

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