How to Password Protect a Word Document – There are several options for locking a Word document, limiting permissions, and password-protecting its content. Most of these processes will work for Microsoft Word 2010 and later versions for both Windows and Mac; Word Online does not support password-protected documents. The following screenshots apply to users of Microsoft Word for Windows, with alternate paths detailed for Mac users as well.
How to Password Protect a Word Document
Protect your document
Microsoft Word offers multiple ways to protect your document from unwanted readers and editors.
Clicking File in your Word document will take you to the Information screen . Here is a set of tools called Protect Document that provides a drop down menu with three options to add a variety of password protections to your document.
Option 1: Mark as final (only for Microsoft Office versions after 2010 on Windows)
Selecting Mark as Final will inform anyone who opens the document that it is complete, and will also protect it to be “Read Only” and not allow any editing. It will also hide any remaining edit marks, tracked changes, or comments. A banner will appear at the top of the document to inform readers of the status.
This is the least secure option because it still allows readers to click Edit Anyway and change the document. It simply provides a way to openly share the content while letting other participants know that the document is complete.
Option 2: Encrypt with Password
The Encrypt Document option allows authors to require a password to open a Microsoft Word file.
The second option in the Protect Document list is Encrypt with Password. Clicking this option will open the Encrypt Document window , allowing you to create a password for the document.
Note: Word for Mac 2011 users should use the path Word> Preferences> Personal Settings> Security> Password to Open. Word for Mac 2016 and Office 365 for Mac users will continue to Review > Protect Document to access the Security menu and set a password.
Opening a protected Word document requires users to enter a password before viewing any content.
The password feature does not include a recovery option, so losing the password will make it impossible to open the document. You will have to enter your chosen password twice to confirm it, and you will be prompted to open the document from then on.
When a user opens the document, they will be prompted to enter the password. Entering the correct password will allow reading and editing, unless the author has used additional protections.
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Option 3: Restrict editing
The Restrict Editing selection provides authors options to limit the options within the document.
Note: This option can also be accessed through the Review tab in the Protect toolbox ( Protection for Mac users).
Note: Word for Mac 2011 users should use the path Word> Preferences> Personal Settings> Security> Password to Modify. Word for Mac 2016 and Office 365 users will use the Review > Protect Document path to open the Protection window and then select options for Protect Document For.
The most useful option is the second one, Edit Constraints . Checking the box below that option provides the ability to limit user editing to one of four options:
- Tracked changes make changes possible, but with mandatory tracking.
- Comments allows users to comment on the document, but not edit text.
- Filling in forms ( Forms for Mac Users) allows users to fill in pre-formatted areas only.
- No Changes ( Read Only for Mac users) Prohibits all editing and commenting.
For any of these changes to take effect, the author must choose Start Execution by clicking the “Yes, Start Protection Execution” button on the Restrict Editing toolbar in the Windows menu. Mac users will select OK . This will prompt you to create a password, which can be the same as a password to open the document, or different.
Finally, these tools can be used in combination. For example, you can require a password to open the document, mark it final, and restrict editing to read-only, in case a reader decides to choose Edit Anyway even when the document is marked final.