How do I Password Protect a PDF File without Software?

how to do password encryption

If you are putting confidential information on a PDF file, password protecting the information is important. When you password protect a PDF file, you will ensure that only the right people can access your information. You may want to password protect a PDF file when sharing it over the internet or when storing it on a shared computer. In this article, we will focus on showing you how to encrypt a PDF file. 

The Best Ways to Password Protect a PDF File 

1.    How to Encrypt a PDF Using PDFMate PDF Converter

PDFMate PDF Converter is an ideal tool for password-protecting PDF files. On top of having the ability to password protect a pdf file, the computer program is capable of converting PDF files to other file formats, including HTML, JPG, DOCX, EPUB, etc. 

The program is 100% free. The only downside about using the tool to password protect a pdf file is that it only works on Windows PCs. Below, we have the steps you will need to follow to encrypt your PDF file using PDFMate PDF Converter:

Step 1: Install the application on your Windows PC and launch it. 

Step 2: On the top-left corner, click the Add PDF button. 

Step 3: Choose the PDF file you would like to password protect and then hit the Open button. 

Step 4: Once the PDF document gets loaded in the queue, select PDF from the bottom of the program. Look for the PDF option under the Output File Format. 

Step 5: Near the top-right, choose Advanced Settings. 

Step 6: Put a check on the Open Password box. This should be available in the PDF tab. Be sure to type your preferred password. 

password protect pdf using pdfmate

Note: You can also choose the Permission Password too. This will allow you to set up a PDF owner password. The password will restrict copying, printing, and editing. 

Step 7: To save the password and other security options, tap the OK button. 

Step 8: Next, select where you would like to save the password-protected document. 

Note: The application allows you to save the document in the same location as the original PDF file. If you would like to save the file to a different location, check the Custom radio button. 

Step 9: Finally, hit the Convert button. This button should be available on the bottom of the PDF tool. 

2.    Use Adobe Acrobat to Password Protect a PDF

Adobe Acrobat is an ideal tool for password-protecting PDF files. If you are yet to install it on your computer, you can use the trial version. The trial version will last for 7 days. 

It is worth noting that Adobe Acrobat is quite expensive – For the Adobe Acrobat pro, with an annual commitment, you will have to pay $15 per month and $25 per month with a month-to-month commitment. This tells you that paying for the tool just to add a password to a PDF file may not be a very good idea. Paying for Adobe Acrobat will be a good idea if you work with PDF files regularly. 

To learn how to encrypt a PDF using Adobe Acrobat, follow the steps outlined below:

Step 1: After launching Adobe Acrobat on your computer, go to File > Open and then locate the PDF file you would like to password-protect. Select the Open button to load the document. 

Step 2: Navigate to File > Properties.

Step 3: Go to the Security tab > select the Security Method. In the drop-down menu that shows, select the Password Security option. 

Step 4: At the top of the password security window, under the Document Open option, check the “Require a password to open the document” checkbox. 

password protect pdf with adobe acrobat

Step 5: Enter the password in the textbox that appears. 

Note: If you would like to restrict editing and printing using an owner password, you will need to fill out the details under the Permissions section. 

Step 6: Choose the OK button and then confirm your chosen password by typing it again. 

Step 7: On the Document Properties window, hit the OK button to go back to the PDF file. 

Step 8: Save the PDF file to write the password to it. To save the file, visit File > Save. Alternatively, visit File > Save As. 

3.    How to Encrypt a PDF Using Microsoft Word

If your computer is running on Windows, chances are, you already have Microsoft Word installed on the PC. If you already have the software on your computer, you may not need to look for another tool to encrypt your PDF file. Below, we have the steps you will need to follow to password protect your PDF file using Microsoft Word:

Step 1: Open Microsoft Word and select Open Other Documents from the bottom left corner. If Word is already open into an existing document or a blank document, you will need to go to File. 

Step 2: Navigate to Open and then Browse to locate the document you would like to encrypt. After selecting the PDF document, hit the Open button. 

Step 3: Microsoft Word will tell you that the document is being converted into a Word editable format. Tap OK on the notice. 

Step 4: Open File > Save As > Browse. 

Step 5: From the Save as type menu, select PDF (*.pdf).

Step 6: After naming the PDF file, select options. 

Step 7: Tap the box next to “Encrypt the document with a password”. This should be available at the bottom of the prompt. 

Step 8: Tap OK and then enter a password for the PDF twice. 

set password for pdf on Word

Step 9: Tap the OK button to exit this window. 

Step 10: Select the location where you would like to save the PDF document and then hit the Save button. This should add a password to your PDF file. 

4.    Encrypt PDF Files Using OpenOffice Draw

OpenOffice is a suite featuring various office products. One of the products is Draw. By default, the software may not have the ability to open PDF files. However, you can install the PDF Import extension to open the PDF files in OpenOffice Draw. 

After installing OpenOffice Draw and the PDF Import Extension, follow the steps below to learn how to encrypt a PDF file:

Step 1: Launch OpenOffice Draw and then visit File > Open. 

Step 2: Select the PDF file you would like to encrypt and open it. 

Note: If your document features a number of pages or it has a large number of charts and graphics, you may have to wait for a longer time before Draw opens the PDF file. Since OpenOffice Draw is not designed for use with PDF files, you may notice that the formatting is quite off. To rectify the text that could have been altered, you may need to edit the PDF file before proceeding.  

Step 3: Navigate to File > Export as PDF. 

Step 4: Access the security tab and then choose Set passwords. 

Step 5: In the Set Open Password section, fill both text boxes with the password you would want to use to open the file. To ensure that permissions do not get changed, you can also add a permission password. 

Step 6: Tap the OK button to save and exit the window. 

Step 7: Select Export and then select the name for your new PDF. Also, choose a location where you would like to save the encrypted PDF file. 

5.    Password Protect a PDF Using LibreOffice 

LibreOffice is a complete office suite that is 100% free. The suite features Writer (Word Processing), Impress (Presentations), Base (databases), Math (formula editing), and Draw (vector graphics + flowcharts). 

Being a full-fledged replacement for Microsoft Office, most people may already have the suite. LibreOffice is available for Mac, Linux, and Windows PC. Below, we have the steps you need to follow to encrypt your PDF file:

Step 1: Launch LibreOffice on your computer. 

Step 2: On the top-left corner, tap the Open File option. Locate the PDF file you would like to encrypt and open it. 

Step 3: After opening the document, hit the File option. This should be available on the top-left corner. 

Step 4: Tap on the Export as PDF option. 

Step 5: Click the Security tab and then tap the Set Passwords option. 

Step 6: Type your password and then hit the OK button. 

set pdf password using libreoffice

Step 7: After ensuring that all the options are ideal, tap the Export option on the bottom-right corner. 

Step 8: Select a location on your PC where you would like to save your file. After giving the file a name, hit the save button. 

6.    Password Protect a PDF File Using PDFCreator 

This tool is also free. Instead of using Adobe Acrobat that will require you to pay, you can always choose to use PDFCreator instead. 

When installing the tool on your computer, it is essential that you pay attention to the installation process. If you are not careful, the tool could end up installing additional unnecessary software. Below, we will show you how to encrypt a PDF using PDFCreator:

Step 1: Open PDFCreator and then tap PROFILES on the top menu. 

Step 2: On the left-hand panel, check the Encryption option. 

Step 3: At password, check the “Require a password to open the PDF document” checkbox. 

Step 4: Tap the Set Password button. 

Step 5: Enter an owner password and a user password. The Owner Password makes sure that no one can edit the document without the password while the User Password is required to open the file. 

Step 6: Tap OK to save the passwords. 

Step 7: At the Encryption level, you will need to select Medium (128 Bit AES). 

Step 8: At the bottom, look for the Allow the user option. Choose what the user can do to the document.

Step 9: Hit the Save button available on the bottom right corner. This will take you to the PDFCreator home page. 

Step 10: Select the Choose a File to convert option. This will launch the Windows Explorer. 

Step 11: Locate the PDF you would like to encrypt and open it. 

Step 12: Enter the name for the PDF in the Filename section. 

Step 13: At the Folder, you should be able to see and change the location on the PC where the PDF file will be saved. 

Step 14: You can go ahead and add the author, subject, keywords, and title, depending on your preference. 

Step 15: Hit the Save button available on the bottom right corner. PDFCreator will encrypt your document. 

7.    How to Encrypt a PDF Online 

It is possible to encrypt PDF files online. Below, we will show you the steps you will need to follow when using various online PDF tools:

Password Protect a PDF Using SodaPDF.com 

Step 1: Visit https://www.sodapdf.com/password-protect-pdf/ on a computer web browser.

Step 2: Select the file you would like to encrypt. You can select the file from your local hard drive, Google Drive, and Dropbox. 

Step 3: Set a password. 

Step 4: Download the encrypted PDF file and view it on your computer.

Use SmallPDF.com to Encrypt PDF

Step 1: Visit https://smallpdf.com/protect-pdf

Step 2: Upload the file you would like to password-protect. 

Step 3: Enter the password you would like to use on your PDF file. 

Step 4: Hit the “Encrypt PDF” button to add the password to your PDF file. 

Step 5: Download the Encrypted PDF to your computer. 

Note: If you have to use an online tool to encrypt your PDF file, make sure that the file is not sensitive and confidential. Even after setting a password, the online program server will still have the unencrypted document. This means that your information could still be accessed by third-parties. While online programs claim that they respect their user’s privacy, it is impossible to know which programs respect their claims and which ones do not. 

Summary 

If you have a PDF file featuring sensitive information, you can ensure that no one can view the information. All you will need to do is encrypt the file. While it is possible to encrypt PDF files online, we suggest that you stick with computer programs. Computer programs offer higher privacy. 

Author: Treyton Collins

A tech editor for Starzsoft.com offering professional how-to articles for Windows, Android and Apple users.