How to password protect or encrypt PDFs [Tip]

Want to know how to password protect a PDF document? Well, that’s easy especially if you already have a PDF viewer with a built-in file encryption feature such as Adobe Acrobat 8 or 9. Now, for whatever reason, let’s just say that you don’t. Like, for example, you’re in a net café and you are not allowed to install any software or programs. Is there any other way for you to be able to secure and lock a PDF file?

Apparently, there is. If you have access to the internet and you can use a web browser, then all you need to do is to follow the steps listed below.

How to secure a PDF file with a password

  • On your preferred web browser (ex. Chrome, Firefox, Opera, etc.), click this link to go the homepage of “PDFProtect!” – a free web service that lets you add a password and other security permissions to your PDF files. You can use the said service without logging in. Plus, its connection is encrypted.
  • So once you’re on PDFProtect!’s homepage, you’ll see a section where you need to upload the PDF file that you want to secure and lock. With this web app, you can opt to upload a file from your computer or upload it from your Dropbox or Google Drive account.
  • After which, just enter the password that you want to use to lock your file. Make sure that it’s a password that’s not easy to guess. You can make a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters with random characters and numbers.


  • After creating your password, you can click the “Advanced Options” link to set your protected PDF file’s encryption level, printing permissions, editing permissions, etc. You can also set a different password for changing your PDF file’s permissions.


  • Once you’re done, just click the “Protect!” button and wait for a few seconds. Once the web app is finished processing your protected PDF file, a “Save As” dialog box will appear and you will be prompted to save the protected PDF document to your computer. Just click “Save” to confirm.


So that’s it. When opening the said file, you will be prompted to enter the correct password. This will help keep your confidential files safe from unauthorized users.

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  • Lisa May

    The easiest way to do that in my opinion is like this: It allow you to use AES encryption, PDF encryption, and set your own passwords to help keep your files safe.

  • AustinErd
    Here is another way for that. Set restrictions for opening, copying, editing, and printing to make sure your files are safe even if they fall into the wrong hands.

  • Col. Panek

    It seems there’s “owner” and “user” passwords (or “modify” and “read” or some such), so if you set just an owner password, anybody can read it but only the password will open it for editing. With the user password set, you need the password to open it also. They can be different passwords. Once you open it, you can copy all the text inside and save it as something new, but you can’t edit the original file. LibreOffice opens PDFs for editing (in Draw) that you have the owner password for. Gimp only imports PDFs with no passwords.

    I’d guess the NSA and Chinese Army both have password crackers to open any PDF. Locks only keep out honest people.

    The pass word for my test documents is “password”. But I don’t have my bank account numbers in it.

  • Bruce Fraser

    [@Col. Panek]
    Col. Panek: Thanks for the challenge!
    I think all the PDF password removers use more or less the same technique; there must be some simple to lock/unlock a PDF file.
    However, they work only if one can open and read the file. The “protection” is against copying or changing the contents. Financial institutions seem to love doing this with their monthly statements. I can’t fathom why: I mean, am I going to change the balance, and then say next month, “Hey, what happened to the $10 million I had in my account last month?”

    Anyway, your PDF file is the kind which cannot even be opened without the password. And thus the password remover I use (by Aimersoft, but like I said virtually the same as all the others) cannot touch it.

  • Col. Panek

    In case you’d like to try cracking a PDF or ODT file, here’s a couple for you to try. I just created both in LibreOffice, which exports to PDF with a (optional) password. I’d be interested if anybody can get into them, and with what app. The password is… very very easy, if you want to cheat, but see if your crackers can do it. If so I’ll give you a harder one!

  • Bruce Fraser

    It would be interesting to lock a PDF file here with a password… and then try one of the many free PDF password remover programs to clear that password.
    I don’t have any need myself for protected PDF files, so I’m not going to spend my time on it. Just curious, though.