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How to password protect a PDF document

A quick drag-and-drop is all it takes to password-protect your PDFs.
By
December 20, 2022

Securing your PDF document with a password is a great way to control who can access your files. The easiest way to password protect your PDF files from any browser is with Adobe; they did invent the PDF file format, after all. Here are a few methods to create a PDF password.

Read more: 15 best PDF reader apps for Android

QUICK ANSWER

To password protect a PDF document, drag and drop the file into the Adobe Acrobat online tool. Create your password and download the secure PDF file to your computer.


KEY SECTIONS

How to password protect a PDF for free

The simplest way to password protect a PDF document is using the Adobe Acrobat online tool. It will allow you to download a secure copy of your PDF file so that a password is always needed to view the contents. Just visit Adobe Acrobat online tool, click the Select a file button above, or drag and drop a PDF into the drop zone.

pdf password protect select file option
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You’ll then be asked to enter a password. Adobe will measure whether your password is weak, medium, or strong. Once it is strong, retype it to confirm the password and click Set password.

After that, you’ll be allowed to download your newly protected PDF. When you open the PDF file within your browser, you’ll see that you need to enter the password to view it.

enter password
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After testing that it works, you may want to delete the original PDF file and only keep the new protected PDF on your computer. That way, there’s no risk of someone else seeing the original file.

How to password protect a PDF in Adobe Reader

If you pay for Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can secure your PDFs with a unique password within Adobe Reader. Open a PDF file in Adobe Reader and navigate to Tools in the top left corner to find the Protect tool.

adobe reader protect tool
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You might need to open the drop-down box beside Protect to change the encryption options to Encrypt with Password.

adobe reader protect encrypt options
Adam Birney / Android Authority

After that, a pop-up window will appear with the option to create a password. Check the box under Document Open to Require a password. Then create a password that is at least determined to be Strong.

adobe reader password protect pdf
Adam Birney / Android Authority

You can also check the box under Permissions if you want to require the password for editing and printing the PDF document. Once your password is set, click OK in the bottom right.

How to password protect a PDF in Mac Preview

macOS has its own method of securing PDF files with a password. To start, open a PDF in the Preview app on your Mac and select File –> Save.

mac preview file save
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Some options will pop up from the bottom. Before clicking Save, select Permissions.

mac preview permissions
Adam Birney / Android Authority

In the Permissions window, check the box beside Require Password to Open Document. Then, enter a password, and retype it to verify.

mac preview password protect
Adam Birney / Android Authority

Lastly, select Apply in the bottom right corner. Changes take effect the next time the PDF is opened.


Read more: How to save a Google Doc as a PDF document

FAQs

If you can’t set a password for a PDF file in Adobe Reader, make sure that the Protection Tool settings are set to Encrypt with Password, not Encrypt with Certificate.

You can upload a PDF file to the Adobe Acrobat online tool to protect it with a password for free.

You can secure a PDF file with a password before you send it in Gmail. The recipient will need the password to open the document. Follow the steps in this guide to learn more.

You can secure a PDF file with a password before you send it in Outlook. The recipient will need the password to open the document. Follow the steps in this guide to learn more.

Is 

Yes – but only if you know the password. To remove the password, open the PDF in Acrobat Pro and select Tools > Protect > Encrypt > Remove Security.