How To Password Protect a PDF File

Timothy Iyekowa
By Timothy Iyekowa - Writer & Editor
11 Min Read
Image credit: shutterstock

A PDF file is one of the most popular formats for reading a document on a device, it is a file that works across all supported devices.

It replaced many traditional means of reading documents, and writers and free-time authors use it to bring their books and courses to digital, rather than printing lots of copies.

Assuming you bought one of the digital copies and would want to password-protect it, how would you do it—well we’ll show you how to password protect PDF file.

Sadly, most devices don’t come with a built-in feature that password protects a PDF, that’s why we are going to be using a third-party app or free online service to secure the PDF.

If you password protects your document, no one will be able to get access, and only someone with the password will be able to open it. So, if you’re sending an important file we recommend encrypting the PDF with a password.

They are different ways to encrypt a PDF, and this guide will take you through step-by-step how to password protect PDF files. So how do you encrypt your PDF using Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac? They’re many ways you can password protect your PDF file, you can use an application or an online service.

Read Also: How to edit a PDF file

Using Es file Explorer

You can encrypt your PDF using Es File Explorer. Es file explorer is a file management application for Android, and it offers the most unique features a file manager can boast of. Es file Explorer is the go for password protecting your PDF file.

1. If you haven’t installed the application you can do so now — download the app from Softonic. And open the Es file Explorer app, go to the document or PDF you intend to password protect.

How to password protect a PDF file — Es File Explorer
Select encrypt

2. Once you have seen the PDF you want to password protect long tap the document and click on more; there, you see a list of menus, click on Encrypt and type in a password for your PDF.

How to password protect a PDF file — Es File Explorer — Enter Password
Enter a password

3. You can email the password to your inbox, and you can even encrypt the PDF file name so no one will be able to change it.

4. After you have typed in the password click on OK and the PDF will be password protected. Once you want to open the PDF file, you will be prompted to type in the password.

Read Also: How to create zip file on Android phone

Password protect with PDF Utils

PDF Utils has a lot of features to let you merge, reorder, split, extract, delete, and encrypt any PDF. We’re all into the encryption part with simple locking. There are two ways for securing a PDF on Utils; the owner and user password.

If a document is encrypted with the owner password users can’t be copied or print the document. While if a document is encrypted with a user password, anybody can open the PDF if he or she knows the password.

If you want to know how to password protect your PDF with PDF Utils, simply download and install the app from the Google Play Store to begin the process.

1. Once the installation is complete open the app and you’ll see a list of available options.

How to password protect a PDF file — PDF Utils
Click on password protect

2. Go to password protect and select the file you want to encrypt, then, type in your password for the owner and user password. You can decide to use one or both.

3. To avoid confusion enter the same password on both and save changes. 

How to password protect a PDF file — PDF Utils — enter password
Enter a password for one or both

4. Once you have password protect the PDF, no one will be able to open it, except they have the password. With your PDF encrypted you will now be able to enjoy the privacy of your document.

Password protect with Adobe Acrobat online

With Acrobat software you can password protect your PDF, but it comes with a subscription pass, and it’s only available for desktop users.

You can easily password protect your PDF on any device with Adobe Acrobat online, this is not an app. You can only do this from the Adobe Acrobat password protection page. Password protect PDF using Acrobat encryption page.

1. To get started, you need to go to their password protection page on your preferred browser and click on the Select a file button to choose your PDF.

How to password protect a PDF file — Adobe Acrobat Online
Adobe Acrobat Online

2. Once you have selected your preferred PDF, create a password for the PDF file, retype to confirm. And then, click on Set Password for your PDF.

3. Your PDF is now password protected, you can now download it from the Adobe server and save it to your local computer or mobile.

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Using smallpdf

If you want to encrypt a one-off PDF document and don’t want to download any application or software, you can use an online service like Smallpdf to password protect the document.

1. To use Smallpdf to password protect your PDF go to their password protection page, and then drag and drop the PDF you want to encrypt to the toolbox.

How to password protect a PDF file — Smallpdf
Password Protect with Smallpdf

2. After placing the PDF on the toolbox, enter the password you want to use to secure the document and click on Encrypt PDF. After the encryption, you can download the encrypted PDF file.

What about macOS

Encrypting a PDF document is very simple on a macOS computer. You can use the built-in Preview app to secure your PDF file. The app can password protect any PDF document with just a few clicks.

1. To get started, find the PDF file you want to encrypt and open it with the MAC’s preview app and click on the File tab on the menu bar.

2. Once you click on the File tab, a drop-down menu will appear, and then select the Export option from the list, and a pop-up window will appear.

How to password protect a PDF file — Mac Preview app
Click Export from the File drop-down

3. Check the box before Encrypt and you will be provided with space where you should enter your new password. After that you have confirmed your password, click on the Save button to save your new PDF encrypted file.

How to password protect a PDF file — Mac Preview app - enter password
Enter a password and click Save

Once you have saved the file, your old PDF won’t be affected by it. Only the modified PDF will be password protected. If the encryption was successful, a password prompt will appear if you want to open it.

Did we forgot Adobe Acrobat

No, we didn’t. We thought as much to make the talk about Acrobat last, since you can easily encrypt your PDF online with Adobe Acrobat why would you still want to get it.

Adobe Acrobat password protection feature is only available on the Pro plan, if you want to get your hands on it you need to subscribe or start a free trial.

You can still have it with their 7 days free trial. If you download the Adobe Acrobat Pro free trial version you’ll be able to use the password protection for any documents.

1. Navigate to the Adobe Acrobat Pro DC free trial page and click on the ‘Get Started’ button. If you don’t have an Adobe Creative Cloud account yet, you’ll need to sign up. Type in your email in the box.

2. Choose a payment method so that Adobe can bill you after the trial period. You can cancel anytime.

3. After the confirmation, click on Get Started and follow the prompts to download and install Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.

4. Once you have installed Acrobat you can then open any PDF file to encrypt it. Before you can use the software make sure you are signed in.

5. Open the PDF you want to secure and click on the File menu in the tab, and then choose Protect Using Password.

6. From the new window choose your password settings. You can password protect your PDF to limit users from editing the file, or require one when the file is open. Type your preferred password, and click Apply.

Note: If you just want to use Adobe Acrobat to password protect your PDF be sure to cancel before the 7 days trial ends.

If you are creating a password for your document, make sure you get the right idea to create a password that will be very hard for others, not you. For a start, make sure you’re using a combination of upper and lowercase.

If you’re worried about forgetting your password, you can always use a password manager like LastPass and Dashlane. And make sure you don’t use the password you use for other services if you’re sending it to someone else.

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By Timothy Iyekowa Writer & Editor
As a seasoned content writer with 4+ years of experience in consumer technology, Timothy has been a dedicated author and editor at since its inception. Specializing in addressing user concerns, his articles offer effective solutions for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac-related issues. Timothy's expertise also extends to crafting content about social media and various applications. Through his daily articles, he consistently aids users in overcoming their technology challenges.
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