On Ubuntu 14.04 I have created an encrypted home directory for a certain user A (with ecryptfs-utils & cryptsetup). However I am usually logged in as another user B. When I am logged in as user B, how could I access the contents of the home directory of user A as if it was not encrypted?

For example, since user B is an Admin, and I have user B's login credentials, I am (kind of) able to see the contents of user A's home directory from nautilus, but all I see there is some encrypted stuff.

3 Answers 3


User B being an admin does not mean it can decrypt the home directory of user A. The reason is that only when User A logs in the home folder is made available as if was not encrypted.

I believe this behavior is intended and it is - and should not be - possible.

  • Right, admin rights of user B should not be enough but I also have user A's credentials. I simply want to apply them while I am logged in as user B. I don't think it's impossible since if I cannot log into user A, I can still externally recover A's home directory by the encryption passphrase (which I also have). howtogeek.com/116297/…
    – rapt
    Jun 2, 2015 at 21:14
  • If you have the credentials, then try logging in. If I recall correctly the home folder is then accessible for other users as well. Does that work for you?
    – mevdschee
    Jun 2, 2015 at 21:25
  • I do not want to log off user B in order to access the files in user A's home. I want to remain logged into user B but be able to access the files in user A's home. I have all the required credentials, can't get any better here, the question is how I apply them in the command line.
    – rapt
    Jun 3, 2015 at 14:55

I just founds this page looking for a similar solution and I can confirm I just did an su myuser and logged in from terminal

Then with root I could access all the files in myuser's home directory - actually using Mint but its based on Ubuntu so should be the same.


The ecryptfs mount overlays the existing home dir. When you sudo su - other-user you become that user, but that doesn't mount the ecryptfs over the existing home dir. For that you can use ecryptfs-mount-private.

related (my question): Do I need unencrypted files underneath encrypted overmount?

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