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How to Password Protect a PDF

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2024-03-22 16:31:28 • Filed to: Password Protect PDF • Proven solutions

Unauthorized access to files raises serious security and privacy concerns that can damage the reputation of an organization or trigger other serious consequences. This unauthorized access is often a result of not protecting PDF files with passwords. If you have suffered from this problem and want to end it for good, then you have to password protect your PDF. In this article, we are going to take you through a complete guide on how to password protect a PDF with both online and offline tools.

Part 1. How to Password Protect a PDF without Acrobat

Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor is the best all-in-one PDF solution tool that makes the way you handle PDF tasks seamless, fast, and full of fun. PDFelement is equipped with myriads of excellent features that would demand from a top-notch PDF tool. This program lets you create and convert PDF, edit, annotate, print, protect, perform OCR, share, and compress PDF. Whether you are doing personal or organizational’s tasks, PDFelement is a suitable tool. Here are quick steps to follow.

Step 1. Open PDF File

Run PDFelement on your device to open the main interface. Click the “Open files” tab to browse for the PDF file you want to protect, then click “Open” to upload it.

open pdf

Step 2. Edit PDF (Optional)

When the PDF file loads on the PDFelement interface, head to the toolbar and click the “Edit” tab. Now edit your PDF file using the editing features such as add text, image, links, watermarks, and headers and footers.

edit pdf

Step 3. Set Password on PDF

When you have completed editing your PDF document as per your need, head to the “Protect” section and click the “Set Password” option. On the “Security” dialog box, you can choose to add a document open password or a permission password. To add a document password, enable the “Open Password” checkbox and enter the desired password in the field. For permission password, check the “Permission Password” checkbox then enter the desired permission password in the respective field. The permission password and the open password should not be the same. Once you are satisfied with the changes you have made, click the “Save” button to exit the “Security” dialog box and allow the program to insert the password into your document.

set password

Step 4. Save PDF with Password

Now that the password is added to your PDF, you need to save the changes you have made to avoid being discarded. Just go to the “File” menu and click the “Save” button. You can now go to the same folder and open the PDF file. You will be prompted to provide a password to open/view it. Also, when you make some changes or try to print it, you should provide the password.

save pdf

Part 2. How to Password Protect a PDF Offline

Wondershare PDF Converter Pro is a great PDF software worth using. This program has a simple and easy-to-use interface, fast processing and rendering speed, and a collection of excellent features. You can convert PDF to other formats, create PDF from other files, merge, compress, and encrypt PDF files. It also supports the OCR feature that converts scanned images and PDFs to editable and searchable files.

Step 1. Open PDF File

Run the program on your computer and open the main window. Once opened, go to the left window panel and click the “Encrypt PDF” tab. the next thing is to upload the PDF file that you want to add the password. Simply click the “Add” button and browse for the target PDF file. Click the “Open” button to upload it.

add pdf

Step 2. Set Password on PDF

When the file is uploaded, go to the “Conversion Presets” section at the bottom of the window. Enter a suitable password in the “Password” field and browse the output folder in the “Directory” section. When done with the selections, click the “Encrypt” button to allow the program to add the password to the PDF file.

pdf password

Part 3. How to Password Protect a PDF Online

HiPDF is an excellent and easy-to-use online PDF software. This program works across popular devices and operating systems. It allows users to convert, merge, compress, edit, perform OCR, sign, and protect PDF among others.

Step 1. Open PDF File

Navigate to HiPDF protect PDF page and click the “CHOOSE FILE” button to access the file explorer window. Browse the file you want to protect and click “Open” to upload it.

choose file

Step 2. Set Password on and Save PDF

Wait for the file to upload and then enter the desired password in the “Password” field. Click the “Encrypt” button to allow the program to insert the password to the PDF file. After that, click the “Download” button to fetch the PDF file to your device.

Part 4. How to Password Protect an Office Document

Now that you know that security based on cryptography techniques is very secure, it is likely that you are interested in using the protection tools of the Microsoft Office suite. Next, I will show you how to protect your documents with Microsoft Office.

Step 1: Go to Encrypt with Password

Before starting, open your PDF file using any application of the Microsoft Office suite as a viewer and display the main options menu (File). Once there, go to the "Info" section, click on the "Protect Workbook" option and choose "Encrypt with Password."

Step 2: Set a Password

Now you will see a window where you must enter and confirm the password that you will use to encrypt the document. When you finish, click on "Ok."

How Secure Is Microsoft Office's Password Protection

The Microsoft Office suite has password encryption tools. Any protection system that encrypts information is highly secure. Encrypting a file consists of dividing the file into tiny segments. Each segment is assigned an identifying number known as "Hash" and, subsequently, the password that the user enters as part of a formula designed to create chaos in the order of the segments that make up the file. For this reason, the only way to break this type of security is to try different combinations in an orderly manner. This process is very impractical because, with current computing power, it could take many years to crack the password (the more characters the password has, the exponentially more difficult it will be to break).

Part 5. How to Create a Password-Protected PDF File

Microsoft Office applications are not ideal for working with PDF files. It is possible to use Microsoft Office to protect them. Still, you should remember that once you have established password protection, the document format will change, depending on the application you use to view the document.

Instead, you can use specialized PDF management software such as PDFelement or, if you are a macOS user, you can use the Preview application. I will show you how to do it below.

Method 1: Preview

Step 1: Go to Export…

go to export

Before starting, make sure to open your PDF file using Preview. Now, display the "File" menu and select the option "Export ..."

Step 2: Set a Password

set a password

Now you will see a window where you can choose the export characteristics. Ensure you have the "Encrypt" option enabled and enter a password. When you're done, click "Save."

Method 2: PDFelement

Step 1: Use the Encrypt with Password tool

encrypt with password tool

To get started:

  • Open your PDF file with PDFelement.
  • Pull down the "File" menu and go to the "Protect" section.
  • Once there, select the "Encrypt with Password" option.

Step 2: Set a Password

set a password

Now you will see a window where you can choose the protection features. You can set passwords to restrict reading, writing, and even printing processes.


A few years ago, password protecting files was not as straightforward as it is now. Fortunately, these days, password-protecting documents are straightforward, and encryption tools are often included in the editing applications you use daily, as is the case with Preview, Microsoft Office, and PDFelement. Just make a couple of clicks, and voila.

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Audrey Goodwin

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