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How to Password Protect a Microsoft Office Document

In the evolving world of tech, no amount of security is enough. People are more worried than ever about their privacy. Even if your PC is password-protected, that’s only one step a hacker needs to crack to access your files. 

It’s important to keep everything on your computer safe from data breaches. This includes important files like Word documents.

Keep reading to learn how to password protect a Word document.

How to Password Protect a Word Document

Tech companies are well aware of how much importance consumers put on security. They know that hackers and data thieves could be anywhere at any time. Because of this, more companies are building password protection features into their software.

Microsoft Word lets you password protect your files right out of the box.

First, open the Word document you want to password-protect. Then click on ‘File’, and click on ‘Info. To the right-hand side of where you hit ‘Info’, you’ll see a square labeled ‘Protect Document’.

Click ‘Protect Document’, then click ‘Encrypt with Password’. An ‘Encrypt Document’ window will pop up. In the window is a field where you can enter a password. Enter the desired password, then hit ‘Ok’.

Now you’ll be prompted to repeat the password. Follow the basic rules of password writing. Nothing obvious, nothing you’ll forget, use some special characters, capitals, and numbers. Then, retype your password and click ‘Ok’.

Your Word document is now password protected. Every time you try to open it, a password prompt will pop up first. Enter the password you came up with and you’ll gain access!

You can password protect any Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file using these exact steps. The interface for these programs is all very similar in Windows 10. If you know how to do it for one, you know how to do it for all.

How to Remove a Password From a Word Document

You can remove the password protection on files just as easily.

First, open the password-protected file. Enter your password to gain access to the document. Then, click on ‘File’, and then ‘Info’. 

Click on the ‘Protect Document’ menu again, then click ‘Encrypt with Password’. Hit ‘Encrypt with Password’, then simply erase the password you originally entered. Click ‘Ok’ and you’re done — your file is now unsecured.

Again, you can do this for PowerPoint and Excel documents, too. The steps are all the same. 

What If I Forget My Word Document Password?

It’s important to try and remember every password you come up with. While some accounts and sites let you reset your password easily, Word documents are not the same way.

If you forget your Word document password, you’re pretty much out of luck. You can keep guessing and trying passwords, but that can only go so far.

There is software that claims to solve Word passwords, but these are far from intuitive. They mostly perform what’s called ‘dictionary attacks’.

These programs let you put in word and number combinations that you may have used for the password. The program will apply variations of the given word and number combos to the file until it cracks it. Of course, there’s always a big chance it won’t figure it out.

The best policy is to memorize your password. Writing your passwords down is an option, but it leaves a trail. It only takes one snoopy person to find that password document and gain access to all your stuff.

If you must write them down, do it somewhere secure. A locked away home notebook or journal. Nowhere that a sneaky co-worker can get a hold of it and use scanning services to make copies.

You could try using a password manager.

A password manager keeps all your passwords logged into its software. You simply have to open the manager and navigate to the desired password. Of course, you’re going to have to remember the password for the manager.

But remembering one password is better than hundreds.

How to Password Protect a PDF File

So you’ve finished that important Word document and it’s time to export. But what happens after that? Do you just leave the PDF document unprotected?

Thankfully, you don’t have to. Password protecting a PDF file is just as easy as protecting the Word document it came from. All you need is Adobe Acrobat.

First, open the PDF file you want to password protect using Adobe Acrobat. Navigate to ‘File’ in the toolbar. Click it, and then click ‘Properties’ from the dropdown.

You can also just click ‘Ctrl+D’ to access properties by default.

Click on the ‘Security’ tab. You’ll see a dropdown menu titled ‘Security Method’. From the dropdown, select ‘Password Security’.

Now you should see a pop-up window asking you for a password. Click the checkbox labeled ‘Require a password to open the document’ and type in a password. Now you’ll be asked for a password whenever you try to open the PDF.

Using this extra step, you can protect your documents from birth to export. You don’t have to worry about thieves or hackers any step of the way.

Password protecting Word and PDF files is also great for collaborative reasons. You can share the password with a select few collaborators, then email it back and forth to make edits. Only the people with the password will be able to access it.

Just don’t use one of your regular passwords when collaborating. You don’t want to give them any ideas.

Keep Your Documents Safe

Security is not always a given in our technology-driven world. Knowing how to password protect a Word document gives you that extra bit of assurance that your files are safe. It lowers the chances of jeopardizing your security, and even your job in many cases.

Just make sure to keep track of your passwords. The last thing you want to do is lock yourself out of your files.

For more business-related content, check out the rest of our blog.