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How to Share Password Protected PDF

Transferring a PDF document is a widespread activity repeated thousands of times every day. However, this does not mean that there are no risks. Keep in mind, More than 90% of malware arrives through email. It is always a wise idea to protect your files before sending them. If you work with PDFs with current or sensitive content, learning how to protect them with a password will become a vital task for you.

According to the data provided by specialized cybersecurity companies, there are 2,244 cyberattacks per day, and 164 cybercrimes reported every day. It is essential to recognize that digital tools have brought enormous advantages in terms of productivity but have also generated many security gaps that can put users at risk, and it is necessary to take precautionary measures.

How to Adequately Protect a PDF before Sharing It?

You must know that there is no secure way to transfer files, but there are ways to prevent other people from accessing your information, for example, protecting your files with a password.

There are many ways to password protect files, but the most effective way to do this is by using encryption technologies.

Data encryption consists of generating a 128-bit cryptographic key using a user-assigned password as a reference. Subsequently, the cryptographic key is used to create a complex algorithm that segments, replaces and rearranges the entire document's content so that it becomes an entirely unrecognizable file.

These security systems are considered the most secure since, if the password used to encrypt the document is unknown, it would be practically impossible to decrypt it.

Although encryption technology is highly complex, there are many applications and tools to encrypt your files very easily.

Here I will show you several methods of sharing your files with the security that a password is required to access them.

Part 1. How to Encrypt Documents in Word

Microsoft Word is one of the applications offered by the Microsoft Office suite and is specially designed to manage text file editing processes.

If you use Word as the main application to create text content, you can encrypt your documents by employing a password. Doing this task represents a straightforward process; below, I will show you how to do it step by step:

Step 1: Go to the “File” tab

Open your Word file and then hit the "File" tab on the upper-left corner of the screen.

go to file tab

Step 2: Open the encryption tool

Click "Info" on the left bar, then hit "Protect Document," and from the listed options, select "Encrypt with Password."

encrypt with password

Step 3: Enter password

Word will display a dialogue box; type the password of your choice and then click "OK".

enter password

Step 4: Confirm password

Once again, type the same password to confirm, then click "OK".

confirm password

Step 5: Confirm your document is password protected

If you did it well, there would be a yellow box around "Protect Document." Your password-protected file will be ready to be sent.

protect document

These five steps were more than enough to protect your document, meaning that your password will be required to access the content. However, this is exclusive to the Word application, so if you need to convert it to PDF, it will not be possible to keep your password.

The solution to this is that you convert your Word file to PDF and then add the password to it; There are several alternatives for this that I will share with you later.

Part 2. How to Share Password Protected Files in Windows

Windows has its native tool to encrypt your files. Although it is a primary function, it will ensure you add the necessary security to your documents to prevent unwanted people from opening them. To do the encryption, you have to do the following:

Step 1: Go to file properties

Look for the file you want to protect. Right-click it, and from the drop-down list, select "Properties".

go to file properties

Step 2: Open the advanced options

You have to go to advanced options; click the "Advanced…" button.

open the advanced options

Step 3: Enable encryption

Check the blank square next to "Encrypt contents to secure data," then hit "OK," and the dialogue box will disappear.

enable encryption

Step 4: Apply changes

You will get back to the properties window where you have to click "Apply".

 apply changes

Step 5: Select type of encryption

You may see an encryption warning, select between encrypting the file and the folder or just the file, then click the "OK" button to confirm.

Step 6: Check the encrypted file

If you did everything well, you would see a lock mark on the icon of your file confirming that it is encrypted.

check the encrypted file

Part 3. How to Password Protect Zip Folder

Another way to encrypt your PDF files is through a zip folder. This procedure is also effortless, and you can do it very quickly. Below, you can see this method:

Step 1: Send the file to the zipped folder

Look for the file you want to password protect, right-click it and hit the "Send to" option and, from the second list, select "Compressed (zipped) folder".

compressed (zipped) folder

Step 2: Confirm the creation of the zipped folder

You should immediately see a new zipped folder.

new zipped folder

Step 3: Add password with a third-party app

Unfortunately, Windows cannot add a password to a zipped folder. But don't worry, there are plenty of apps available on the web that can help you add a password to your zipped folder.

password to your zipped folder

This option that I shared with you is very recommendable, especially if you are going to encrypt many PDF files simultaneously. However, it has a disadvantage: if somebody gets your password, all your documents will be at risk for some reason.

Part 4. How to Lock a PDF File with PDFelement

If you want more sophisticated and professional software to add security to your PDF files, the best option is PDFelement. This powerful application will help you lock your PDFs and give them the protection you need so that when you share them, you don't have to worry about your information being vulnerable.

Password protecting your PDFs with PDFelement is an effortless task, as you can see in the steps that I will show you below:

  • Lock PDF files on Windows

Step 1: Open the PDF file

Run PDFelement and then click the folder icon. Select the file you want to add a password to.

open the PDF file

Step 2: Open the password settings

Click "Set Password" to open the password settings.

click set password

Step 3: Set password

Click the square next to "Open Password" and then type the password of your choice.

set password

Step 4: Set permission password (optional)

You can set a password to allow permissions; just type it.

set permission password

Step 5: Modify print permission (optional)

You can edit print permission. Select one of the three options.

modify print permission

Step 6: Modify changes permission (optional)

You can also edit changes permission. Select one of the five existing options. Once you have finished, click the "Save" button, and PDFelement will immediately add the password to your PDF file.

modify changes permission

PDFelement is not exclusive to Windows, and if you are a Mac user, you can also lock your PDF files; this task is similar to the last one but has some differences. Here I will describe to you how to complete it:

  • Lock PDF files on Mac

Locking PDFs on Mac is also possible. Remember that data protection by password consists of encrypting the content of a document so that it cannot be viewed or modified by unauthorized persons. This means that the technology is regardless of the operating system you are using, but not all encryption tools available in Windows work on macOS.

The best way to secure your PDF files is through PDFelement. The video given below tells you about the best PDF editor you can get.

Part 5. How to Encrypt PDFs on Mac with Preview

If you are a macOS user, don't worry. Remember that you can still protect your PDFs using Word and PDFelement. However, you need to know that a native macOS app can help you encrypt and password protect your documents. The app is called "Preview," It is the default app for viewing PDF documents. Next, I will show you how to protect your PDFs with this application.

Step 1: Open your PDF with Preview

Preview is the default PDF viewer on macOS, and usually, just double-clicking a file will open it with Preview. If this is not your case, you can right-click on the PDF, display the "Open with" option and select "Preview".

open pdf with preview

Step 2: Go to Export

Once your document is open, pull down the "File" menu and select the "Export…" option.

go to export

Step 3: Encrypt

Now a window will be displayed where you must assign a name to the document, choose an export format and enable password security. Finally, enter a password and click on "Save".

enable password security


It is essential not to take security lightly, as it is estimated that every 39 seconds, a cyber-attack occurs in the world. It is hard but necessary to understand that digital files are a potential security problem. Password protecting your files is quite simple and can save you a lot of trouble. In addition, there are tools, such as PDFelement, that help make these tasks much more straightforward.

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