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If I write simple text files to a thumb drive using a Windows PC, can they be read later on a Mac?

If so, can they also be locked and unlocked with a software program (not encrypted) if I forward the password?

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2 Answers 2

If I write simple text files to a thumb drive using a Windows pc, can they be read later on a Mac laptop?

Yes.

Problems with special characters might occur when the application you use for writing chooses a character encoding that isn't recognized by the application that the Mac uses to open the file. But generally, using Notepad on Windows and TextEdit on OS X, you should be fine.

If so, can they also be locked and unlocked with a software program (not encrypted) if I forward the password?

Depends on what you really need to do.

There is no cross-platform lock/unlock tool I am aware of (like there is Folder Lock for Windows). It wouldn't really make sense too. Think about it: Such a lock software would have to be installed on the client systems in order to monitor access of the file in question. It could easily be disabled and wouldn't be of great use after all.

The easiest way to make sure that a file isn't readable and editable by an unauthorized person/program would be to encrypt it anyway. From the end-user's point of view it's more or less the same thing. Consider taking a look at how to create a TrueCrypt container.

If you want people to have read-only access to the file, but require them to enter a password only to edit it, you're probably looking for another way of exchanging information too.

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Thank you, I appreciate your help. I'll explain what I'm trying to accomplish. Upon my death, I would like a chosen relative to pass on that thumb drive to a certain third party. I trust that relative but you can never be positive. I'll leave instructions on how to pass that drive on, but it will remain in my possession until then to be updated as necessary. Right now it is locked with "My Lockbox". It contains some very personal thoughts and emails that are intended for that third party only. Any ideas? Add the locking program to the thumb drive? –  TPM Aug 14 '11 at 20:37
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In that case the best idea would be to add it to a TrueCrypt container as I mentioned above. I also linked to a howto that explains it a bit. Embedding it in this container makes sure that 1) it is only readable with a password 2) it will be readable by TrueCrypt in the future. Any other third party locking software could be circumvented in some way. –  slhck Aug 14 '11 at 21:39
    
Thank you all. My confusion was in how different operating systems read/write the data. –  TPM Aug 14 '11 at 22:34
    
Not a thing! Given that you can put any data into a TrueCrypt container and TrueCrypt can be installed on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, I think you're on the safe side. Just try it out! –  slhck Aug 14 '11 at 22:36

Make sure the thumb drive is formatted to a file system both OSs can read. Both can read FAT12/16/32/exFAT and NTFS, but Mac OS X cannot natively write to NTFS. If your preferred file locking/encrypting tool requires the ability to write to the drive, then don't use NTFS.

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Thank you. I'll check it out. All suggestions are welcome. –  TPM Aug 14 '11 at 21:12

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