Protect a Word document with a password

  1. Use Microsoft Word tools to keep your content safe
  2. Protect your document
  3. Option 1: Mark as final (for versions of Microsoft Office after 2010 on Windows only)
  4. Option 2: Password Encryption
  5. Option 3: Restrict Editing
  6. Enhanced Security

Use Microsoft Word tools to keep your content safe

There are several options to lock a Word document, restrict permissions, and protect your content with a password. Most of these processes work for Microsoft Word 2010 and later versions for Windows and Mac. Word Online does not support password-protected documents. The screenshots below are for Microsoft Word for Windows users, with detailed alternate paths for Mac users.

Protect your document

Click on File in a Word document you will arrive at the “Information” screen. Here you have a set of tools called Secure Document that offers a drop-down menu with three options to add different password protections to your document.

Option 1: Mark as final (for versions of Microsoft Office after 2010 on Windows only)

Choise Mark as final informs anyone who opens the document that it is ready, and also protects it as “Read-only” and prevents editing. Any remaining edit marks, tracked changes, or comments are also hidden. A banner will appear at the top of the document to inform readers of the status.

This is the least secure option because readers can still click Change anyway and edit the document. It simply provides a way to openly share content while still letting other participants know that the document is complete.

Option 2: Password Encryption

The second option in the list Secure Document Encrypt with a password. Clicking this option will open a window Encrypt Document where you can create a password for the document.

Word for Mac 2011 users should use the path Word > Preferences Personal settings Security Password to open. Follow Word for Mac 2016 and Office 365 for Mac users verification Secure Document to access the menu Security to set a password. †

The password feature does not include a recovery option, so if you lose the password, it will be impossible to open the document. You need to enter your chosen password twice to confirm it and from then on you need to open the document. When the user opens the document, they are prompted for a password. Entering the correct password will allow you to read and edit if the author has not taken additional security measures.

Option 3: Restrict Editing

Choise Restrict Editing allows authors to restrict options in a document.

This option is also available on the tab Overview in the toolbox Protection Protection for Mac users).

Word for Mac 2011 users should use the path Word Institutions Personal settings Security Password to change. Word for Mac 2016 and Office 365 users use the path Inspection Secure Document to open the window Protection and then select options Protect document for.

The most convenient option is the second, Editing Restrictions † By checking the box below this option, you can limit the user’s editing to one of four options:

  1. Tracked changes you can make changes, but with mandatory tracking.
  2. Comments allow users to comment on the document, but not edit the text.
  3. To fill in forms Forms for Mac users), users can only fill in preformatted areas.
  4. Without changes only to read for Mac users) disables all editing and comments.

For any of these changes to take effect, the author must select: Start enforcement by pressing the button Yes, start forced protection in Restrict Editing Toolbar in Windows menu. Mac users will choose Okay † This will ask you to create a password, which can be the same as the password to open the document or something else.

Enhanced Security

Finally, these tools can be used in combination to keep information safe. For example, you might need a password to open a document, mark it as final, and restrict editing to read-only – just in case the reader decides to choose Change anyway even if the document is marked as final.

By using these protections, you can protect your file from unauthorized readers and accidental changes.

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