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What is PGP (Pretty Good Privacy)?
Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is a data encryption and decryption computer program that provides cryptographic privacy and authentication for data communication. PGP is often used for signing, encrypting, and decrypting texts, emails, files, directories, and whole disk partitions and to increase the security of email communications.
For more information:

What is GPG (GNU Privacy Guard)?
GNU Privacy Guard is a free alternative to the PGP suite (owned by Symantec).  It is interoperable with PGP and operates similarly.
For more information:

Start Using PGP has many resources to help get you started.  The site provides a nice GUI (graphical user interface) for Windows and Mac users.  Windows users can download GPG4Win from  Mac users can download GPG Tools Suite from

Public and Private Keys
Understanding public and private keys is the key to using PGP encryption.  The user on each end of the communication must have a PGP key. Each public key is bound to an email address.  The sender will encrypt the message with the recipient’s public PGP key and the sender’s signature. When the recipient receives the message, they must use their passphrase (private key) in order to decrypt the message. 

Obtaining Keys
The following will show how to obtain your private and public key with GNU Privacy Assistant (GPG4Win).  The process is essentially the same on Apple machines.  However, you are able to search public keys by email address on Apple machines (on Windows you have to have the Key ID or the public key text/file).​