How to Encrypt Email (Gmail, Outlook, iOS, Yahoo, Android, AOL) (2023)

You might be familiar that email is one of the earliest ways of internet communication. It is still in use and probably will be for a long time to come. A chief problem with email communication is that it does not provide the required amount of privacy.

What we mean is that, if hackers get a hold of your email messages, then they’ll be able to access the content of these emails. The reason being that most email service providers do not support encryption by default.

So, it is the need of the hour that people wake up and encrypt their email addresses to make sure that they are safe from hackers and security threats. If your email messages contain sensitive information such as any password, login credentials, banking details, and so on.

While you encrypt your email, it is important to remember to encrypt all your messages and not just a couple of them. Otherwise, the hacker will still have lots of information at their hand.

In this article, we tell you how to encrypt your emails on Gmail, Outlook, and iOS. Apart from that, we’ll also tell you the email service providers who don’t by default support encryption and so, need third-party apps to do the same. Read on to find out!

Contents show

What is Email Encryption?

Email encryption refers to disguising your email content so that any unwanted third-party doesn’t read it. This is achieved by mixing up the letters and words present in an email that can be unlocked by a specific Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). Now, every individual gets allotted a private and a public key in the form of code for decryption and encryption of the email content.

How does Email Encryption Work To Secure Email?

As already mentioned, encryption is nothing but jumbling up the contents of an email that can be decoded by a designated key. It might seem like a child’s puzzle but a computer makes email address encryption much more complex than that. So much so that encrypted email addresses are impossible to crack by hand.

The procedure involves the public key that gets stored in a key server with an individual’s details like name and email address. This type of key is used to generate encrypted emails at the source. Anybody who wants to send you a private mail or something that contains sensitive information can make use of it.

And the recipient needs to use the private key to decrypt the mail and be able to read it. The private encryption key is accessible by the recipient of the encrypted email only.

On the other hand, the public key can be accessed by anybody on a key server. Email encryption makes use of a technology known as public-key cryptography. Due to this technology in effect, the public key can only encrypt a message and not decrypt it. The email decryption can be done only by the private key that is known by the recipient only.

Why is Email Encryption Important?

The problem of data breaches is becoming a serious concern in today’s high-tech era. As per the statistics, around 13 billion data records have been hacked ever since 2013. Moreover, data breaches can’t be detected immediately and it takes well over a whopping 100 days to detect the same. In addition to that, it could take more than 2 months to contain the same.

Furthermore, as per a study, 90% of the viruses that infect your system come from emails. Hence, it is recommended that everybody should encrypt their email addresses.

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Not only does it ensure secure plain-text email communication but also works as a good precautionary measure to protect your data. Electronic communication is not quite private and so, most of the email address providers do not offer encrypted email service by default.

So, this makes the users susceptible to cyber theft, hackers, and other online threats. You can prevent this and enjoy a secure email service by encrypting your email now.

Types of Email Address Encryption

There are two major types of email encryption, namely, S/MIME and PGP/MIME. Let’s discuss both these types in details:


Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (S/MIME) is a built-in OSX and iOS encryption protocol. It makes use of a centralized authority responsible to pick the encryption algorithm. S/MIME is the most used encryption system since it comes built-in with the web-based email giants like Outlook and Apple.


Pretty Good Privacy/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (PGP/MIME) is another message encryption protocol that utilizes a decentralized trust system. It was built in order to resolve the security issues surrounding plain-text messages.

This model provides better control and adaptability when it comes to you deciding the method of email encryption. However, you can only employ it with a third-party encryption tool.

Difference Between S/MIME and PGP/MIME


  1. Uses centralized authority
  2. Comes built inside the email giants such as Gmail, Outlook, etc.
  3. Key is allotted to you
  4. Gmail, Outlook, and iOS support S/MIME


  1. Uses decentralized authority to encrypt the email content.
  2. You need a third-party encryption service to use this.
  3. You can choose/create your key.
  4. Yahoo, AOL, and Android support PGP/MIME.

How to Encrypt Emails in Gmail?

Gmail app comes with built-in S/MIME, however, encryption won’t work if both the sender and receiver have S/MIME enabled. Follow the steps given below to allow email encryption in Gmail:

Step 1: First, you need to enable S/MIME on Gmail.

Step 2: Now, write down your email message.

Step 3: Click on the lock icon located on the right of the recipient’s name.

Step 4: You change the S/MIME settings of your Gmail app or the encryption level by navigating to “View Details”

Note: While you change the encryption levels, pay attention to the following colors and what they mean:

  1. Green: The message will be secured with S/MIME encryption technology. Such emails can be decrypted using a private key only.
  2. Gray: Email receives TLS protection and this method will work only if the sender and recipient, both can enable TLS.
  3. Red: The mail is not encrypted.

How to Encrypt Emails in Outlook?

Getting A Digital Certificate

Before you can send and receive encrypted emails via Outlook, make sure that you fulfill a couple of criteria like owning a digital certificate. Follow the steps given below to create a digital certificate for yourself:

Step 1: Navigate to “File” and then to “Options”. Then, click on “Trust Center” and then on “Trust Center Settings”. Finally, click on “Email Security, Get a Digital ID”.

Step 2: Select a Certification Authority from whom you want to get the digital ID.

Step 3: Now, you will receive the Digital ID via email.

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Add Your Digital Signature to Outlook

Now, go through the following instructions to sync the Digital ID with Outlook.

Step 1: Click on “Tools” and then on “Options”. Then, click on the “Security” tab.

Step 2: Enter a name that you like in the “Security Settings Name” field.

Step 3: For this, the S/MIME should be selected in the “Secure Message Format” box.

Step 4: Also, the “Default Security Setting” should be checked.

Step 5: Navigate to “Certificates and Algorithms”. Here, visit the “Signing Certificate” section and click on “Choose”

Step 6: Now, go to the “Select Certificate Box” and there click on “Secure Email Certificate” (in case it hasn’t already been selected.

Step 7: Click on the checkbox next to ” Send these certificates with Signed Message”.

Step 8: Click on “OK” to have your settings saved and then, return to Outlook.

Attach the Digital Signature to Your Emails

Now you own a digital signature to attach with your emails but these won’t appear by themselves. So, you need to attach the digital signature to your email via the following steps:

Step 1: Click on the “New Message” option

Step 2: Navigate to “Tools” and then click on “Customize”. Now, open the “Commands” tab.

Step 3: Click on “Standard” from the list of “Categories”,

Step 4: From the “Commands” list, select “Digitally Sign Message”

Step 5: Drag this listing to your toolbar. Now onwards, you just need to click on add signature every time you want to encrypt the email messages.

Step 6: Then, drag the “Encrypt Message Contents and Attachments” to your toolbar.

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Note: Digitally signing a mail is not equivalent to encrypting it. The person to who you want to send an encrypted message needs to have sent you one email at the least with their digital signature on it. Similarly, if someone else wants to send you an encrypted mail, then, you too need to send them a mail first with your digital signature on it.

Step 7: You can have your mails signed digitally by clicking on the “New Sign” button. After you and the recipient come to know each other’s respective digital signatures, you can start sending emails with end-to-end encryption enabled.

Step 8: All you need to do is click on the “Encrypt” button before sending the mail and that will allow you to send encrypted mails!

You can easily add any calendars to your outlook email.

How to Encrypt Emails on iOS?

iOS devices come with default S/MIME support built inside.

  1. Go to “Advanced Settings”
  2. Click on “S/MIME” to switch it on.
  3. Now, after you are done writing a mail, click on the lock icon located right next to the recipient’s name. This will encrypt the message that you want to send.

Note: If the lock icon is blue, then it is ensured that your mail will be encrypted and you can send encrypted mails to the recipient. But, if it is not blue and instead, is red in color, then that is an indication that the recipient has not turned on their S/MIME setting and so, you cannot send an encrypted email to them.

So, they need to switch on their S/MIME setting, and then, just like in Outlook, they need to send you a mail with their digital signature attached.

Email Providers That Need Third-Party Encryption Tools

While many email communication providers support S/MIME by default, a lot many do not. For these providers and devices, you can use a different way to enable encryption, i.e. via third-party tools that allow you to implement S/MIME or PGP/MIME encryption services.

1. Yahoo

Yahoo makes use of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to make your account safe to use. However, if you want to encrypt it with standard encryption protocols like S/MIME or PGP/MIME, then you need to utilize a third-party service.

2. Android

Unlike Yahoo, Android mailing offers encryption via S/MIME or PGP/MIME. However, both of these need an extra setup along with the support of a third-party application.

3. AOL

AOL allows you to encrypt emails manually but, like the above mailing services, requires you to use a third-party tool. This is necessary specifically for PGP/MIME. So, first, download the PGP implementation file. Then, install a third-party program that will allow you to employ the PGP encryption protocol in your emails.

Email Encryption Services

Email encryption apps and services allow you to secure the text in your email by allowing you to encrypt your email address with a key. And we recommend you use encryption to protect both your personal and professional email account(s). Given below are some of the best apps that provide this service.

Each one of these has something unique to offer and lowers your stress by doing all the work in the background. Also, these come free of cost! So, here you go:

1. ProtonMail

How to Encrypt Email (Gmail, Outlook, iOS, Yahoo, Android, AOL) (1)

Compatible With: Android, Apple

Cost: Both free and paid plans available

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ProtonMail is an email encryption service that is compatible with PGP and has end-to-end encryption. It comes at different price ranges and the price is based on how many domains are required and the number of messages you want to send every day.

2. StartMail

How to Encrypt Email (Gmail, Outlook, iOS, Yahoo, Android, AOL) (2)

Compatible With: Outlook, Gmail

Cost: Both free and paid plans available

StartMail is yet another trustworthy and reliable app that provides encrypted email services. It makes use of cutting-edge technology and supports PGP protocol.

3. Mailvelope

How to Encrypt Email (Gmail, Outlook, iOS, Yahoo, Android, AOL) (3)

Compatible With: Chrome, Firefox

Cost: Free

Mailvelope is a free software application that allows end-to-end email encryption in web browsers like Chrome and Firefox. It encrypts the email address using OpenPGP encryption protocol.

4. Send 2.0

How to Encrypt Email (Gmail, Outlook, iOS, Yahoo, Android, AOL) (4)

Compatible With: Outlook, Gmail

Cost: Free

Send 2.0 provides a free and easy-to-use end-to-end email encryption service. It offers a simple registration process with its military-grade encryption service.

5. Virtru

How to Encrypt Email (Gmail, Outlook, iOS, Yahoo, Android, AOL) (5)

Compatible With: Chrome, G-Suite, Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo

Cost: Offers both free and paid plans

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Virtru is an encryption service provider that is available worldwide. It is compatible with Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and so on.

Final Words

That was all from our side on how to encrypt the email addresses. It is very important to encrypt your emails and check twice before opening attachments from unknown senders. A lot of email clients such as Google will have the attachments scanned for viruses but with other providers, you need to do it yourself. There is no level of protection that is enough when it comes to internet security. And so, encrypting emails is the answer to a safer internet experience.


Can I send encrypted email with AOL? ›

Answer: Yes. Be aware that S/MIME works with Gmail, Outlook, and iOS devices. PGP/MIME works with Yahoo, AOL, and Android devices. Always read before trying to obtain an encrypted email service.

How do I encrypt an Outlook email in iOS? ›

Use S/MIME to send and receive encrypted messages in the Mail app in iOS
  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Choose Mail > Accounts.
  3. Select the account that has messages that you want to encrypt by default.
  4. Choose Account > Advanced > Encrypt by Default, then turn on Encrypt by Default.
Jun 17, 2022

How do I encrypt an entire email? ›

In message that you are composing, click File > Properties. Click Security Settings, and then select the Encrypt message contents and attachments check box. Compose your message, and then click Send.

How do I encrypt my Yahoo email on my Android phone? ›

Open a new message in Yahoo Mail as usual. Click the Mailvelope icon in the top-right corner. Write your message and click Encrypt. Send the encrypted message.

How do I enable encryption in Gmail? ›

Set up hosted S/MIME
  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console. ...
  2. In the Admin console, go to Menu Apps Google Workspace Gmail. ...
  3. On the left, under Organizations, select the domain or organization you want to configure. ...
  4. Scroll to the S/MIME setting and check the Enable S/MIME encryption for sending and receiving emails box.

How do I enable encryption in iOS? ›

How to encrypt your iPhone
  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Then navigate to Touch ID & Passcode.
  3. If your Passcode is turned on then scroll to the bottom. ...
  4. If your Passcode is turned off, then turning it on will automatically switch on encryption also known as Data Protection.
Apr 6, 2022

How do I encrypt Outlook on Android? ›

When composing an email in Outlook for iOS and Android, the sender can choose to encrypt and/or sign the message. By tapping on the ellipses and then Sign and Encrypt, the various S/MIME options are presented.

Why can't I encrypt my Outlook email? ›

When sending a message, I can sign, but why can't I encrypt? This error is due to the recipient not having a Secure Email Certificate installed. You may only send encrypted emails when public keys have been exchanged. If the recipient has a Secure Email Certificate, you can exchange keys by sending a signed email.

Does Outlook encrypt emails? ›

If you have an Microsoft 365 Family or Microsoft 365 Personal subscription, now includes encryption features that let you share your confidential and personal information while ensuring that your email message stays encrypted and doesn't leave Microsoft 365.

Does Gmail encrypt email automatically? ›

First of all, the Gmail server is automatically protected by network-level encryption. This layer of encryption protects your emails within Google's network or while they're in transit from sender to recipient.

Is it a good idea to encrypt your email? ›

Email encryption helps protect sensitive information from hackers or unwanted parties by only permitting specified users to access and read your messages.

How do I fully encrypt my Android phone? ›

  1. If you haven't already, set a lock screen PIN, pattern, or password. ...
  2. Open your device's Settings app.
  3. Tap Security & Location.
  4. Under "Encryption," tap Encrypt phone or Encrypt tablet. ...
  5. Carefully read the information shown. ...
  6. Tap Encrypt phone or Encrypt tablet.
  7. Enter your lock screen PIN, pattern, or password.

How do I turn on encryption on my Android? ›

Open your device's Settings app. Tap Security & Location. Under "Encryption," tap Encrypt phone or Encrypt tablet. (If your battery isn't charged or your device isn't plugged in, you won't be able to tap this option.)

Does Yahoo support encryption? ›

Encrypting Emails With Yahoo

Yahoo uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) as a layer of security to protect the account but requires third-party services to encrypt with S/MIME or PGP/MIME.

How do I Encrypt an email in Outlook? ›

Encrypt all email messages you send in Outlook

You can enable automatic Outlook email encryption in the following way: Navigate to the File tab > Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings. Switch to the Email Security tab, and select Encrypt contents and attachments for outgoing messages under Encrypted email.

How do I Encrypt an email in the Gmail app? ›

Here's how to send a message in confidential mode for iOS and Android:
  1. Tap Compose in the Gmail app.
  2. In the top right, click More and then Confidential mode.
  3. Set an expiration date, passcode, and other controls, which applies to the message's text and attachments. ...
  4. Tap Done.
Aug 20, 2018

Is Gmail encrypted on Iphone? ›

When possible, Gmail protects your info by automatically encrypting your emails, which turns them into a code during delivery. This security tool is called Transport Layer Security (TLS) and helps prevent others from reading your emails.

Is Gmail more secure than Yahoo? ›

Gmail has a better security record

Yahoo has the unique dishonor of having the largest discovered data breach. In two separate attacks in 2013 and 2014 (though only disclosed in 2016), hackers accessed data from all 3 billion Yahoo accounts.

Is Gmail more secure than Outlook? ›

Outlook and Gmail are both secure email services. Outlook uses the Exchange Online Protection service to protect against malware and spam, while Gmail uses Google's own spam filtering. Both services encrypt your emails in transit, so your messages are safe from eavesdropping.

How strong is Gmail encryption? ›

How secure is Gmail? If you are wondering whether your Gmail account is secure from hackers, then the answer is yes, but only to a certain extent. Gmail is encrypted with TLS, Transport Layer Security, while transferring your data and it protects your emails at rest with industry-standard 128-bit encryption.

Is iOS end-to-end encrypted? ›

End-to-end encryption

With watchOS, iOS, and iPadOS, your messages are encrypted on your device so they can't be accessed without your passcode. iMessage and FaceTime are designed so that there's no way for Apple to read your messages when they're in transit between devices.

Is iPhone encryption better than Android? ›

So what is more secure: Android or iOS? Studies show that mobile malware targets Android much more than iOS, so for this reason, and all the others stated in this article, iOS is more secure. While you can remove malware from Android and iPhone, it's better not to get it in the first place.

How do I Encrypt Gmail on iPhone? ›

Send messages & attachments confidentially
  1. On your iPhone or iPad, open the Gmail app .
  2. Tap Compose.
  3. In the top right, tap More. Confidential mode. ...
  4. Turn on Confidential mode.
  5. Set an expiration date, passcode and other controls. These settings impact both the message text and any attachments. ...
  6. Tap Done .

Is Outlook for Android encrypted? ›

S/MIME in Outlook Mobile

Outlook Mobile now supports S/MIME which provides encryption to protect the content of emails and digital signatures to confirm the identity of the senders. Manual delivery via email attachment of the certificate is available on both iOS and Android platforms.

How do I encrypt an email in Outlook Mobile? ›

If you want to encrypt email in Outlook the only thing you need to do is to compose a new email. In the new email window go to Options (1) and select Encrypt (2). You will be able to select the encryption option for the composed email.

Can Android phones be encrypted? ›

To get started, go to Settings > Security > Encryption > Screen lock. Select the PIN option and enter a PIN. The Android device is ready to be encrypted. Use the settings menu to open the encryption screen below by following Settings > Security > Encryption > Encrypt tablet or Encrypt phone.

Why are some emails not encrypted? ›

It's too Expensive. While there are ways to ensure universal end-to-end email encryption, it's probably too costly for the average user. For example, at every point in the email chain of custody, there is a potential security risk. For example, in places such as web browsers and servers.

How do I know if my Outlook email is encrypted? ›

How can I tell if the message I sent was encrypted? Check the email in your Sent emails. You should see a message under your profile and the To line that shows an information icon, with a message about the encryption level for the email. For example, “Encrypt-Only – This message is encrypted.

How do I encrypt an email in Outlook 2022? ›

How to Encrypt Email in Outlook
  1. Open the “Trust Center” ...
  2. Go Into the “Trust Center Settings” ...
  3. Click on the “Email Security” Tab. ...
  4. Import a Digital ID. ...
  5. Open the “Settings” Window. ...
  6. Check That It's Using S/MIME. ...
  7. Check the Boxes in “Encrypted Email” ...
  8. Check That Your Message Is Encrypted.
Jun 24, 2021

Is Outlook on iPhone encrypted? ›

The Outlook app on the recipient's iPhone can then decrypt the message with the private key installed app. S/MIME allows end-to-end encryption: the sender encrypts the email in a way that it can only be decrypted in the recipient's inbox, ensuring only the intended person can read it.

Do all email providers encrypt emails? ›

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are clearly not the most secure email providers. None of them encrypt your messages end-to-end, and none take your privacy very seriously.

What is the safest encrypted email? ›

20 Most Secure Email Providers in 2023 [Private & Encrypted]
  • Comparing the Best Encrypted Email Services.
  • #1) Titan.
  • #2) Protonmail.
  • #3) Tutanota.
  • #4) Mailfence.
  • #5) CounterMail.
  • #6) Hushmail.
  • #7) Posteo.
Dec 28, 2022

Is Gmail encrypted safe? ›

When possible, Gmail protects your info by automatically encrypting your emails, which turns them into a code during delivery. This security tool is called Transport Layer Security (TLS) and helps prevent others from reading your emails.

How long does an encrypted email last? ›

Messages sent between people who use encryption don't expire, because they are delivered over email like any other message, plus typically encrypted in a more secure way.

Does AOL support secure connections? ›

If you're having trouble connecting to AOL Mail through a third-party app, you may need to update your settings. Learn how to update your app's secure connection settings. AOL is committed to protecting the privacy and security of our members.

Does AOL support SSL? ›

When entering your account info, make sure you use your full email address, including, and that the SSL encryption is enabled for incoming and outgoing mail. Settings may be in a different location in each email client, though the AOL server and port settings will always be the same.

Does AOL work with Gmail? ›

Method 1: Add AOL Account to Gmail Manually

Navigate to the Gear icon to select the See All Settings option. In the Accounts and Import tab, click on the Import Mail & Contacts option. Now, enter the Email Account from which you want to Import emails and contacts. Press Continue.

Is AOL still a good email provider? ›

AOL Mail. AOL Mail is another email provider that is considered bad for user privacy and data security.

Is AOL changing their email 2022? ›

AOL is ending support for our email addresses. Find out when this will happen and what your options are! AOL is ending support for email addresses. Starting on April 30, 2022, you won't be able to send or receive emails using your email address.

Can you encrypt Gmail? ›

Start composing a message. Add recipients to the "To" field. To the right of your recipients, you'll see a lock icon that shows the level of encryption that is supported by your message's recipients. If there are multiple users with various encryption levels, the icon will show the lowest encryption status.

How to encrypt email Outlook? ›

Encrypt all email messages you send in Outlook
  1. Navigate to the File tab > Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings.
  2. Switch to the Email Security tab, and select Encrypt contents and attachments for outgoing messages under Encrypted email. Then click OK and you are close to finished. ...
  3. Click OK to close the dialog.
Nov 23, 2022

How do I make my Outlook email secure? ›

To send an encrypted email, click the New Email button in Outlook. Compose an email, adding in any attachments necessary, that should be encrypted. Next, rather than clicking Send, click the Secure Send button. This will encrypt both the email's contents and attachments.

Does AOL work with Outlook? › supports IMAP / SMTP

That means you don't have to use webmail interface! You can check your emails using other email programs (like Mailbird, Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird). Using desktop email programs will make you more productive and your email will always be available, even offline.

Does Outlook still support AOL email? ›

Use the Add Account feature to link your AOL email account to Outlook. Select File in the Outlook top menu. In the left pane, select Info then Add Account. Enter your AOL email address and then click Connect.

Is Gmail using SSL? ›

By default, Gmail always tries to use a secure TLS connection when sending email. However, a secure TLS connection requires that both the sender and recipient use TLS. If the receiving server doesn't use TLS, Gmail still delivers messages, but the connection isn't secure.

Is Yahoo Mail encrypted? ›

Is Yahoo Mail Encrypted? Yahoo Mail does use the TLS protocol to encrypt your messages, but this won't protect anything from a compromised email server, data breaches or any other serious security vulnerabilities.

What are the three options of email encryption? ›

Green — Information is protected by S/MIME encryption and can only be decrypted with a private key. Gray — The email is protected with TLS (Transport Layer Security). This only works if both the sender and recipient have TLS capabilities. Red — The email has no encryption security.


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