Protecting a PDF is not difficult, but you need to use the right tools. A software widely known to specialize in managing PDFs is Adobe Acrobat Reader. With this software, you can protect your PDF documents, but you need to know that Adobe Acrobat Reader is a paid software, and therefore you will need to have an active subscription to protect your PDFs with it.
If you don't have an active Adobe Acrobat Reader subscription, don't worry, this doesn't mean you can't protect your documents.
In this article
Part 1. Is There Any Way to Password Protect A PDF File without Acrobat
As I mentioned before, it is necessary to use specialized tools to protect a PDF since data protection consists of using sophisticated encryption technologies. Adobe Acrobat is a PDF document management software, but it is not the only one, and it is not the only tool capable of protecting a PDF by a password.
There are tools, and web applications specialized in managing PDF documents and have the necessary technology to encrypt and protect your documents for free.
Part 2. How to Password Protect A PDF without Adobe
PDFs' password protection is a security measure that encrypts documents using a password to generate a cryptographic key based on encryption schemes such as AES.
As you can imagine, it is only a digital data protection technique and, therefore, several tools can carry out this process. However, when it comes to PDFs, some tools have adapted these security schemes to protect this type of file in a more user-friendly way, making the whole experience much less technical but just as effective.
Next, I will show you how to protect your documents without using Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Solution 1. Use Wondershare PDFelement
The most effective and simple way to protect your PDF documents is by using specialized tools such as PDFelement. With this software, you will be able to carry out all kinds of tasks related to managing PDF documents with just a couple of clicks. Now I will show you how to protect your PDFs with PDFelement.
Step 1: Open your PDF
To get started, you need to open your PDF using PDFelement. You can do this by opening the application and then clicking on the "Open File" button, or you can also right-click on the document icon, pull down the "Open with" menu and select the "PDFelement" option.
Step 2: Protect PDF
Once you have opened your PDF, go to the "Protect" section and click on the "Set Password" button. A pop-up window will appear where you can set passwords to restrict opening the document or even restrict only certain permissions. When you have set the security features of your preference, click "Save".
PDFelement helps you password protect your PDF without using adobe and keeps your files secure. Check out the link below to learn the detailed steps.
Solution 2. Use Microsoft Office’s Built-in Encryption Tool
Microsoft Office includes a tool to encrypt and protect your documents with passwords. If you prefer, remember that you can use Microsoft Word to open your PDF documents and, in this way, use the protection tools offered by the Microsoft Office suite.
To do this, open your document using Microsoft Word and pull down the "File" button options. On the right side of the application, you will find the option "Protect Document" click on this option and enter the password you want to use to protect the document. (Note that making edits using Microsoft Word will convert your PDF to .docx format, and unfortunately, you won't be able to convert it to PDF without losing document protection)
Solution 3. Use Online Tool to Password Protect PDF File
The above methods are very effective but require you to have PDFelement or Microsoft Office suite installed on your computer. If you want an immediate online alternative, you can use the HiPDF web application. Using it is completely free; you need to visit its official website and follow these steps.
Step 1: Go to Protect PDF
Once you are on the HiPDF website, you will find a list of this application's services. Click the "Protect PDF" button to continue.
Step 2: Upload your PDF
Remember that this is an online service and, therefore, it is necessary to upload your document. Once you have selected the "Protect PDF" tool, the application will show a box where you must drag and drop your PDF.
Step 3: Set a Password
When your document finishes uploading, the application will show you a box asking you to assign a password. When finished, click on "Encrypt" and use the link to download your protected document.
Solution 4. Use WordPress Plugin
Using PDF documents is an easy way to share information with stunning design, even in a web context. APIs and Plug-ins allow you to view a PDF document on a website. These tools save a lot of time and make it possible to share documents without handing out copies of the document to each person who wants to read it. Yes, it is possible to protect these documents with passwords. Still, you should know that you need to install a plug-in on your WordPress control panel called PPWP. Now I will show you how to protect your documents using this plug-in.
Step 1: Go to your WP Admin Dashboard
You first have to go to your administration panel and select the "Pages" option on the left side panel. Now you will see a list with all the URLs associated with your website. In this list, you will notice that a label that says "Password Protection" has appeared on each page. Click on the label corresponding to the URL where the PDF you want to protect is stored and select the "Password Protect" option.
Step 2: Set a Password
A window will be displayed to see the "Password protect this page" button. A password will then be generated automatically. Please note that you will be required to enter the automatically-generated password each time you attempt to access the URL you protected.
Part 3. How to Password Protect a PDF File Without Acrobat on Mac?
If you are a Mac user, don't worry, all the methods I mentioned above will allow you to protect your PDFs as both PDFelement and Microsoft Word have versions compatible with macOS. On the other hand, you must know that, as a macOS user, there are some additional methods with which you can protect your documents. Now I will tell you about them.
Solution 1. Mac Natively
In macOS, Preview is the main tool for managing PDF. This application has some to edit, search, comment, and even protect PDF documents. Follow these steps if you want to use Preview to protect your PDFs.
Step 1: Go to Export…
The first thing you should do is open your PDF using Preview. In general, it will be enough to double-click on the document to open it with Preview, but if this is not your case, right-click on the PDF, drop down the "Open with…" menu, and select "Preview." Once this is done, display the "File" menu and select the "Export…" option.
Step 2: Set a Password
You will now see a pop-up window where you can set export preferences. Here you will find an option to encrypt the file. Check the "Encrypt" box and enter the password you want. When finished, click on "Save".
Solution 2. Using Pages
Pages is a powerful word processing application developed by Apple. This application allows you to export to different formats, including the PDF format. Thanks to this, it is common for macOS users to use Pages to manage their PDF documents. If this is your case, there is good news. Pages allows you to protect your documents with a password. Now I will show you how to do it.
Step 1: Go to Set Password
The first thing you'll need to do is open your PDF using Pages. Remember, to do this; you can right-click on your PDF, pull down the "Open with" list, and select "Pages." Once you have opened your document with Pages, go to "File" and click on "Set Password".
Step 2: Set a Password
A pop-up window will be displayed where you must enter the password you want to use to protect the document. Note that you will see a box where you can disable the password request when the document is opened from your computer in this window. The latter can save you a lot of time if you constantly need to work with your protected documents.
Adobe Acrobat Reader is a very handy application, but it is not the only one to password protect a PDF. As you can see, there are several alternatives. PDFelement is, without a doubt, the most sophisticated alternative because it will not only allow you to protect your PDFs. It is an all-in-one tool that will make all kinds of document management and editing tasks easier for you, even if you use macOS.