How to Decrypt a File Using PGP

By Allen Bethea

PGP can encrypt and protect every file and folder on your hard drive.
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While files secured with PGP encryption are safe from unauthorized access, they are useless to you as well, if you can’t find a way to decrypt them first. Fortunately, Symantec’s PGP encryption tools enable you to decrypt your files at the command line or by using a point-and-click graphical user interface. At the time of publication, however, Symantec has not officially released its PGP tools for Windows 8 users.

PGP Command Line Decryption

Step 1

Launch your command-line utility, then navigate to the directory containing the file you want to decrypt. You can launch the command shell by pressing the “Windows-R” keys, typing “cmd” into the search box, then pressing “Enter.”

Step 2

Type in the PGP command to decrypt your file at the command prompt. For example, if your encrypted file is named "myblackbook.txt.pgp" and your password is "mapulstirrup," then type the following PGP command at the prompt:

pgp --decrypt --passphrase mapulstirrup --input - <myblackbook.txt.pgp

Step 3

Press the "Enter" key to start the decryption process. PGP should generate an unencrypted version of your file with the same name as the decrypted file, but without the ".pgp" file extension.

PGP Desktop Decryption

Step 1

Launch PGP Desktop, click the "Tools" menu, then click "Options."

Step 2

Click the "NetShare" tab, check the "Protect individual files" box, then click "OK." This allows you to decrypt or encrypt individual files outside of a protected, shared folder.

Step 3

Click the “Start” button, then type the name of the file into the search box. If you type in the “pgp” file extension, you can get a listing of all PGP-encrypted files on the connected storage devices you have access to.

Step 4

Right-click the file you want to decrypt, click “PGP Desktop,” then “Remove from PGP NetShare.”

Step 5

Click “Yes” to confirm that you want to decrypt or remove protection from the file, then click “Finish” when done.