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How to Password Protect a PDF Document (for Free)

Saving important documents into a PDF is a great way to ensure that your documents are read-only and cannot be easily altered. This can be particularly useful for contracts, agreements, invoices, formal letters and the like. Most rich text format documents (such as Microsoft Word and Pages for mac) can be easily converted to a PDF format; simply select ‘save as’ and then ‘PDF’. However, if your documents are highly confidential you may also want to password protect them; this will ensure that you are in control of who can open your documents.

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How to Password Protect a PDF on a PC or Microsoft Computer

Depending on whether you have a PC or Mac computer, saving your documents with a password is slightly different. So with this in mind, we thought it would be best to provide instructions for both.

Saving and Password Protecting a PDF using Microsoft Word

  • If you have created the document in Word – first you need to save it as a PDF (‘save as’ then ‘PDF’).
  • You should then be presented by with a pop up, which will give you the option to name your file (File name:).
  • Below, you should see a button marked ‘Options…’ click on this and you should see a dialogue box appear.
  • From here, select ‘Encrypt the document with a password’.
  • This will prompt a second dialogue box to appear. At this point type in your chosen password (you will have to do this twice, to ensure that your password has been typed correctly) then press ‘OK’
  • Finally, save your PDF.

Saving and Password Protecting a PDF using Microsoft Adobe Acrobat

  • With Adobe Acrobat open, navigate to the ‘File’ menu and select ‘Open’. From here select the PDF you want to password protect and open it.
  • With the PDF open, return to the ‘File’ menu again and select ‘Properties’, this should prompt a dialogue box.
  • In the dialogue box, along the top menu bar, select the tab labelled ‘Security’ and then ‘Security Method’
  • From the ‘Security Method’ dropdown, select ‘Password Security’.
  • You should now be prompted to enter your chosen password, be sure to check the box indicating ‘Require a password to open the document’ and then type in your chosen password.

It is now password protected and can only be opened with the correct password – so don’t lose it!
Provided you have Word or Adobe Acrobat, then this is a straight forward and relatively easy task (if you don’t have these programs, you can take advantage of the 30 day trial that Adobe Acrobat offers or search for a third party app – feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments below).

How to Password Protect a PDF on a Mac (for free!)

Adding password protection to a PDF document using a Mac is also fairly straightforward, and luckily can be carried out without having to install any additional or costly software.
Incidentally, this method will word for any document that you are able to print, so it’s definitely a handy trick to be aware of if you like to password protect your documents from time to time.

  • Firstly, open the document or file that you want to add password protection to (in this case it would be a PDF).
  • Then along the top menu bar, go to ‘File’, ‘Print’ at this point, a dialogue box should pop up.
  • At the bottom of the screen, there should be a small dropdown menu that says ‘PDF’, select this and then ‘Save as PDF’.
  • Now a new dialogue box will appear, be sure to name your document appropriately in the text field labelled ‘Save As:’ and then click on the button labelled, ‘Security Options’.
  • When another pop up dialogue box appears, check the tick box labelled, ‘Require Password To Open Document’.
  • Then enter your chosen password (you will be required to do this twice for verifications purposes).
  • Click on ‘OK’, this should cause the pop up to disappear.
  • Finally, click on ‘Save’.

Your document is now password protected, to make a note of your chosen passcode in a safe place, otherwise if you forget it, you won’t be able to open or view the document.
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Transcriptionist and Virtual Assistant. View all posts by Samantha