I have files which are encrypted by vim.

From the command line, how can I determine which encryption method was used on a given file?

  • Welcome to Vi and Vim! Are you asking how to determine if a file was encrypted by vim? Or are you asking the very general, and likely off-topic, question of how to determine what encrypted a file? Please edit to clarify.
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Mar 6, 2021 at 17:37
  • @D.BenKnoble I presumed they were asking which 'cryptmethod' setting was used.
    – Rich
    Mar 7, 2021 at 10:25
  • Indeed if @Rich is correct please also edit to state that this is the goal
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Mar 7, 2021 at 17:01

2 Answers 2


I looked at the source code of vim and figured that a header is written to encrypted files that specify the encryption method in the form of a code like 'VimCrypt~01!' for 'zip' and so on.

So here is a bash script to print the filenames and encryption methods of all given files:

print_enc_method() {
  local enc_method
  local file_header=$(head -c 12 "$1")

  case "$file_header" in
      enc_method='no match (not encrypted?)'
  printf "%s: %s\n" "$1" "$enc_method"

for f in "$@"; do
  print_enc_method "$f"

You can run it like ./script.sh file1 file2 file3 or use globbing:

cd ~/Documents/super_secret_notes/
./script.sh *

And it should print something like:

file1: blowfish2
file2: zip
file3: no match (not encrypted?)

After doing a little research, It doesn’t look like they is any really good way to determine file encryption, since there are so many different methods of encryption.

If a file has headers, using the file command may identify some types of encryption, as per this answer.

I hope this helps!

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