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6 Online and Offline Methods to Password Protect PDFs Free

Want to password-protect a PDF free but have no idea where to begin? Our experts have reviewed several tools and come up with a list of the best option that is worth adding to your app collection. Password-protecting your PDF ensures that only authorized individuals can view its contents. This can help prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.

Password-protected PDFs can be easily shared without worrying about being altered or accessed without permission. Fortunately, there are a couple of different ways to password-protect a PDF. You can do it online, using tools like HiPDF, Adobe Acrobat, and Smallpdf, or offline options like Wondershare PDFelement.

Are you a beginner looking out for the best online and offline methods? Keep scrolling the page and find the top 6 online and offline tools to encrypt PDFs for free.

Part 1: How to Password Protect PDFs Free Offline?

While the internet is packed with tons of online tools to handle your PDFs, we always recommend an offline application to ensure the high-end security of the file. Protect your PDF document with Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor without compromising its formatting and layout.

But before you make use of this application, download it on your PC and follow the on-screen prompts to install it. After that, follow the instructions below to password-protect a pdf free.

Step 1Upload a PDF File

Run the tool on your system and click the "+" icon at the top to import the PDF file you wish to secure. Alternatively, you can also go to the left pane and tap the "Open PDF" button to browse the file explorer window for importing the required PDF file. In addition to this, users can drag and drop the file to the interface to save time.

password protect pdf free
Step 2Protect the PDF

As soon as you upload the file to the Wondershare PDFelement, go to the toolbar and click the "Protect" button. A sub-menu will appear on the screen, where you must select the "Set Password" button to proceed further.

A dialog box will appear on the screen, where you can add both Open Password and Permission Password, as required. Make sure to set a strong password to avoid easy guesses. Afterward, select the encryption level, such as 128-bit AES, 256-bit AES, and 128-bit RC4. Click the Save button at the bottom to apply the changes.

how to password protect a pdf free
Step 3Edit PDF File (Optional)

Once you have password protected your file, you can easily edit it like an editable word file within a few clicks. Tap the Edit option in the toolbar and select anything from the submenu to complete the editing. With Wondershare PDFelement, you can easily add text, images, watermarks, etc., with a swipe of your fingertips.

how do i password protect a pdf for free

As soon as you are satisfied with the changes, expand the File menu and click the Save and Save As buttons to apply these changes.

password protect pdf for free

Part 2: Top 5 Online PDF Protectors to Password Protect PDF Files

While offline tools are great for maintaining your file's safety, these won't give you the freedom to use them anywhere. That's why our experts have mapped out the top 5 online pdf protector options to try out. Check these options and pick the one that caters to your requirements.

1. HiPDF - Free All-In-One Online PDF Tool

If you are hunting for a tool that protects your PDF file without sacrificing its security or formatting, your search ends with HiPDF. A free online PDF tool, HiPDF features a vast library of 39 PDF tools and image solutions to handle your PDF files easily. With HiPDF, you can perform different functions on your document, including Merge, Compress, Protect, Convert, Rotate, Sign, Unlock, Crop, and many more things.

password protect pdf free online

This tool comes with a user-friendly interface, so you can easily use it without putting in much effort. HiPDF is widely known for its safety features, as it deletes all uploaded files within one hour after processing.

Are you ready to password-protect a PDF free with HiPDF? Turn to its Protect PDF tool and follow the steps below to carry out the process.

Step 1 Launch the web browser of your choice and open the HiPDF tool.

Step 2 Expand the All Tools menu and click the Protect PDF option.

password protect pdf online free

Step 3 Now, tap the Choose File button, and upload the PDF file you wish to protect. You can either choose the PDF file from your system or from the cloud storage.

Step 4 Once the file is imported to the interface, you'll be prompted to enter a strong password to protect the file.

Step 5 Click the "Protect PDF" button, and it's done.

2. Adobe Acrobat Online

The second-best online tool to protect your PDF file is Adobe Acrobat Online. The online version of Adobe is way simpler to use than its desktop application. With this, you can easily set the password to protect your PDF document in a few steps. The best thing about using Adobe Acrobat Online is that the tool lets you know the strength of the password, so you can set a strong password to safeguard your PDF's content.

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Key Features

● Adobe Acrobat Online allows users to perform various functions, including merging a PDF, compressing the file, protecting, converting, rotating, and many more.

● When you use Adobe Acrobat to protect your file, it encrypts the file for free for an added layer of security.


Easy to use

Simple interface

Easy file sharing

Supports all modern browsers


Some advanced tools are available in the pro version only.

There might be some problems with text scanning.


Want to password protect pdf online? Turn to PDF2GO and secure your files from unauthorized access like copying or printing. With this application, you can easily set a password to open the document as well as to restrict permissions or limit functionality. All you have to do is upload your PDF file, enter the unique password, select what users of your PDF can do, enter and repeat the permission password, and click the Start button to complete the process.

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Key Features

● It assures file safety by removing all uploaded files after processing.

● This tool helps perform other functions, including editing a PDF file, compressing, merging, splitting, unlocking, sorting, and deleting PDF pages, and much more.


Simple to use

Can easily handle PDFs

Supports all major file formats


Ad-laden free version

No watermark option is available.

4. Smallpdf

SmallPDF is an online service that lets users easily password-protect PDF files. It offers high-quality encryption and only requires a free account to get started. SmallPDF also has many other features for editing and converting PDFs, making it a good choice for those who need more than just password protection. Use the SmallPDF tool and password-protect your file in a few clicks.

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Key features

● SmallPDF assures you to keep your files and passwords safe using SSL connections. All files will be removed from the server permanently after one hour.

● Since it is a web-based application, it runs across all major platforms, including Mac, Windows, and Linux.


Reliable tool for PDF password protection

Secure encryption for maximum safety

There's no need to install the software.

It's simple and quick to use.

Integrates with Google Drive and Dropbox Cloud services.


Limited functionality compared to its desktop version

5. iLovePDF

Are you still thinking about "how do I password protect a pdf for free"? Well, then, turn to the iLovePDF application and handle your PDF files like a pro. This browser-based app comes with tons of applications, and all of them are 100% free and simple to use. Since it's a web-based app, you don't have to install it separately or signup to get started.

protect pdf free

Key Features

● The tool is available in 25 different languages so that users can choose their preferred one and manage the tool easily.

● iLovePDF strives to offer the smallest file size possible while maintaining the quality at its best.

● It automatically removes the uploaded file within two hours.


Offers batch processing options

Free to use

Simple and efficient

Supports multiple platforms

The layout is very simple to understand.


A free version is laced with ads, which might annoy users.

Part 3: How to Edit Password-Protected PDFs like Editing Word Files?

So, have you protected your PDF with a password and now want to edit the same? Turn to Wondershare PDFelement and modify your file in less than no time. This desktop application allows you to perform various PDF-related functions, such as compressing the file, merging multiple PDFs, splitting the files, and many more.

protect pdf free

With PDFelement, you can add watermarks to the file, insert hyperlinks, change the background, edit the header and footer, and take many more actions to handle your file. It is an easy-to-use PDF editor for PC and mobile users and can edit any kind of file, along with PDFs, such as images, forms, pages, and more.

The best thing about this tool is that it can edit text with the same formatting and modify text size, font color, and alignment. Moreover, it also has a spell-check option to rectify your typo mistakes instantly.

All you have to do is import the password-protected file, click the Edit option in the toolbar, make necessary edits, and save the changes in less than no time.

There are a variety of online and offline tools available to help you password-protect a PDF for free. But, we recommend using an offline tool like Wondershare PDFelement, which offers a variety of security features to keep your PDFs safe from unauthorized access. With PDFelement, you can easily add a password to your PDFs and edit them like simple word files.

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