I want to send a password protected email using gmail. Yes I Know I could attach a document, and protect that instead, but I would like to protect the email body, if that is possible?


4 Answers 4


No, that is not possible with email. Such a function is not specified in the email protocoll. The only possibility would be to encrypt the text in your email body with a tool like PGP or S/MIME. The recipient needs to enter his private password to decrypt the email body. But you need a email client or third party tools to support this (as well as your mail recipient).

  • 8
    +1 for PGP suggestion. One of the few tools that takes care of all three major security factors.
    – Anonymous
    May 24, 2011 at 8:45
  • Great answer, wish the Gmail web interface had this built in.
    – JL01
    May 24, 2011 at 11:31
  • @JL01: Most people wouldn't be too happy to store their private keys on Google's servers (see also: Hushmail). And client (browser)-side implementations would be far too slow. Even writing a 486 emulator in JavaScript is far simpler than the whole OpenPGP suite.
    – user1686
    May 24, 2011 at 15:14
  • @grawity How about gnupg.org ?
    – cregox
    May 25, 2011 at 15:36
  • 1
    @Cawas: It isn't very complicated to use once you grasp the concepts of public-key crypto and Web of Trust. However, the installation might be confusing: GPG itself is command-line and can't deal with mail. There are a couple of key management GUIs and plugins for mail clients, even bundled into a single GPG4Win package, but even the size of said package is scary. Downloading GPG + Thunderbird + Enigmail can be much easier, IMHO; everything can then be done inside Thunderbird.
    – user1686
    May 25, 2011 at 21:20

Use an Imap client with PGP functionnality, such as Thunderbird with enigmail.

  • 2
    If you do, the recepient needs to do the same.
    – Svish
    May 24, 2011 at 10:35

If you're interested in encrypting an email with moderate strength but not willing to go through the PGP rigamarole, you could use a Vigenere cipher. It uses a previously agreed-upon word (the key) to apply a rotating Caesar Shift. If I applied the word "protect" to this paragraph, this is the output:

Xw mhy'tx xehxvglivr br ggrimixkgv rb xqcba nwml ohsvftxg liisgkva qlh gsv pxczbri md xc mlthjxv mlg IVG fbkcfpicei, ahj tcnpf nhv o Omixcvfx Gkiwvf. Bx wltj o ivgoxfilpa tvisxh-wide khvf (mwv yxc) vh pgdec c kdkommpz Rrslet Lwztm. Mh B pgdemgw iys pstw "eicmiem" if hamu ipiozvciw, kvbw kl iys hyvijk:

You can use this page to decrypt that or encrypt your own. Note that the Vigenere cipher is not invulnerable to cracking, but it's definitely stronger than rot13, and is a ton simpler than private-public key systems.

  • 1
    It's especially vulnerable if you keep the punctuation and upper/lower case. For example, "mhy'tx" can be narrowed down to a couple of plaintexts in English.
    – user1686
    May 24, 2011 at 15:01

SecureGmail chrome extension is pretty fine for this purpose. you can see how you can use it from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-mBcseXV08

with this extension, when you are sending email secure email, you will be asked for a password. and email receiver has to have this plugin too. when receiver gets email, a password input link occurs to let you input a password. after you enter correct password, you can see content of email. otherwise, you see encrypted base64 message.

btw, there is a minor issue. when you start writing encrypted email, email does not behave as secure email. you need to minimise with pressing top-right icon to minimise email (not whole window, just emain input area), then you will see email title becomes red and "Send" button becomes "Send Encrypted".

  • 1
    Could you include some more information on how to use the extension? If the YouTube video you are linking to should go away some day, your answer will be left useless. Dec 1, 2015 at 15:13
  • And a link to the extension you're suggesting would be useful. (And don't forget to disclose if this is something you have a vested interest it.)
    – ale
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:57

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