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Enable PGP email encryption in Gmail

One thing is for sure: emails are completely insecure. Not only employees of hosting companies can access the mailboxes of their customers at any time, even fully automated browsing like Google does is possible (and if Google says it wants to stop doing that, do we have to believe it?). I show here how to enable PGP encryption for Gmail with a simple Chrome extension, get a public key and communicate encrypted with others who also use PGP.

Install and configure FlowCrypt Addon

First, it is important to install the extension for Gmail with the Chrome browser, which can be found in the Google Web Store. After successful installation, you will see a green square in the top right corner of the browser - from then on FlowCrypt will guide you through the process of creating a secure passphrase.

A pass phrase is not just a password, but actually a whole sentence that can consist of any words. A security indicator shows how long it would take for 10,000 computers to crack the phrase. Therefore, a sentence that is as long as possible but easy to remember should be chosen.

After the setup, a new button can be discovered in Gmail above the regular "Write" button: "Secure Compose". If you use this button, a new window appears in which you can enter the recipient's address as usual. 

Now the extension directly checks whether the recipient is also a FlowCrypt user - if not, his mail address is grayed out, otherwise it is green. Whether a recipient is generally capable of decrypting PGP-encrypted mails can only be determined by exchanging the public key. 

The Public Key

Every PGP user has a public key as well as a private one, which he has to communicate to his mail partner. Mine is here, for example. Only by exchanging this key beforehand are the programs able to display the mails in plain text. How the encryption works in detail is explained quite well in this video from


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But none of my acquaintances use PGP!

For this, the developer of FlowCrypt has also thought of something good: If the recipient does not use encryption, you can also encrypt the mail with a password, which should be transmitted via another way. With this password the mail can then be opened on FlowCrypt's server. A great thing, for example, to exchange account data securely.


If you use the FlowCrypt addon for your Gmail, you can only read encrypted emails on a computer or smartphone that supports PGP. The regular Gmail app for the iPhone, on the other hand, only displays empty content for encrypted mails!


We have had the transparent user for a long time. But if in times of an iPhone X even facial expressions can be evaluated, e.g. to analyze exactly how a viewer reacts to an advertising video for online marketing in the future, it's about time for more privacy. With FlowCrypt, even technically unsophisticated users can enjoy the benefits of encrypted emails.

Albert Brückmann

CEO of Meminto GmbH, Freelance Web Consultant and Online Marketer for zä I'm 100% geek and digital native, husband and father of three boys in the single digits. When I'm not working on projects, I'm a speaker at conferences and seminars. As a lecturer at the DHBW Mosbach and as a passionate member of a youth group, I like to surround myself with young people. My motto? "Work hard, stay humble." LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook

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