How to Password Protect Your PDF File

PDF is still the most common file format, and password protection is the most common approach to keeping PDF content safe. But while it does give a sense of security, is it truly enough to protect your documents from copying and misusing?

In theory, once you lock your PDF from editing and set a password to protect it, your content is safe. No one can access or share your internal documents, confidential reports, or commercial proposals without your permission. 

In reality though, once someone has received your PDF file, the password protection alone can’t stop them from abusing the content. Unfortunately, people can share the PDF file along with the password, print it out, or simply copy the content and publish it somewhere else. So while password protection is an important first step to securing your document, you may want to think about additional options. For example, disabling downloading or tracking your PDF file.

Let’s start with password protection though.


How to Set a Password for Your PDF File

No matter what tool you use to work on your PDF files, you can easily protect them with a password to ensure the basic security of the content. 

Adobe offers an extensive guide on how to set a password for your PDF. With its help, you can set viewing and editing restrictions as well as encrypt the contents of the file. This way, search engines won’t be able to access its metadata, and your file won’t appear on Google, Yahoo, or Bing. 

But even if you don’t have Adobe Acrobat or Reader, you can still password protect your PDF. 


Password Protecting a PDF in Microsoft Word 2019

You can export your Word document as a PDF file and password-protect it. To do so, follow these steps:

1. First, open your document in Word. Go to File -> Save as Adobe PDF.

2. Click the ‘Restrict editing’ option at the bottom of the save dialog box.

3. Tick the ‘Require a password to open the document’ option and type in your password. Now you can publish the file.


How to Password Protect a PDF on a Mac

You can add a password to your PDF with the standard Preview app on your Mac. 

1. Open the PDF file you want to protect with Preview. Go to File -> Export as PDF.

2. Click on the ‘Show details’ option in the save dialog. 

3. Select the ‘Encrypt’ option, then enter a password and click ‘Save’ to publish your file. If you want to learn more, take a look at this article on how to protect and encrypt files on Mac.


What Else Can You Do to Protect Your PDF File?

As we’ve discussed above, password protection has several limitations. You cannot revoke the password, people can pass it together with the file. And once the document is opened, its contents can be copied and pasted, or printed out. So if you want to make sure you always keep control of your content, you need to take additional steps.


FlippingBook—a Safer Alternative to Password-Protected PDFs

FlippingBook is a PDF to HTML5 converter that lets you share your PDFs as online documents while keeping the content secure. While you can password-protect the document with FlippingBook as well, it takes your document protection to another level. 

Here’s what it lets you do:

  • Disable ‘download’, ‘print’, and ‘share’ options.
  • Hide the file from search engines.
  • Revoke access to the document at any time.
  • Enable views tracking and tracking by the link to see who and when opens your document.
  • If you use a trackable link, you’ll get an instant email notification once your file is opened.
  • Restrict the websites that your documents can be viewed on (note: available with the desktop app). 

How do all these things help?

Disabling ‘download’ and ‘print’ options can make your content available for viewing without actually giving away the PDF file itself. This allows you to retain control of the content: update it or take it down any time you want, without worrying that outdated versions will be available somewhere on the web.

Thanks to tracking views and tracking links you can share sensitive content, knowing that it won’t get abused. You will immediately see if there’s any suspicious activity with the document and will be able to swiftly act on it. 

And the option to hide your document from search engines ensures that your PDF will not resurface on the web when you least expect it.

This is what your PDF file can look like as a password-protected flipbook: 

Sustainability Report

Password: 12345

Apart from giving your PDF file additional layers of protection, FlippingBook also makes it attractive, interactive, and mobile-friendly. You can embed the document into a protected area of your website or send it as a link via email—either way, it will be safe. (On a side note, it is so much easier to send a link instead of attaching a heavy PDF!)

It’s a great fit for internal as well as marketing and sales materials you need to share on the web.

See for yourself!  You can try out all these features yourself for free with a FlippingBook 14-day trial. Sign up now to get started.


drift chat