Want to make sure only the intended people read your MS Word document which contains some sensitive information?
If that’s the case, you’ll want to add an extra layer of security to your Word files by encrypting them with password protection.
Below, we will share 5+ ways you can encrypt your Word documents and all the different ways you can protect a file against editing or viewing.
The latest version of Microsoft has many great features that help secure documents. And the methods we’ll cover below work for MS Word 2013, Word 2016, Google Docs, and more.
There are quite a few ways you can encrypt a file to restrict access to editing or viewing it.
Keep on reading and follow the steps below to learn all the ways you can encrypt your Word documents.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- 3 Types of Password Protection You Can Add To a Word Document
- 7 Ways to Encrypt and Password Protect Word Documents (Word 2010, 2013, 2016, and More)
- How to Remove Password Protection From A Word Document?
3 Types of Password Protection You Can Add In Order to Encrypt a Word Document
Microsoft Office offers different security options that you can use according to your requirements.
Before we cover the practical steps on how to encrypt your Word documents, you should know that there are a few ways you can protect your document content.
That is to say, there are a few types of document protection you can apply to your Word docs.
These protection types are as follows:
- Password to open the document - To prevent unauthorized people from opening the document.
- Modification restriction - To allow certain users to open the document, but without them being able to edit or modify its content. This includes both types to prevent format editing and content editing.
- Read-only mode - This protection type is similar to the modification restriction method. With this protection layer, authorized people can read the content but cannot make any changes.
Below, we’ll teach you how to encrypt your documents with these methods in mind.
7 Ways to Encrypt and Password Protect Word Documents (Word 2010, 2013, 2016, and More)
Below, we will share the step-by-step guide for different encryption and password protection methods.
The protection methods we will cover include:
- Adding a read-only mode to an MS Word document.
- Adding a layer of password encryption.
- Restricting content editing of a Word file.
- Restricting format editing.
- Adding a digital signature.
- Enforcing Word document protection.
- Marking a Word document as final to prevent further editing.
Depending on your version of MS Word (Word 2010, 2013, 2016, etc.), the steps might vary a bit.
But as you’re about to see, the principle and the steps are still mostly the same.
Now, let’s take a look at each step in detail.
1. Marking MS Word document as read-only
The read-only lock ensures that the recipient of the document can open the Word file but not edit it.
Here’s how to mark an MS Word document as read-only:
- Open the File from the top left corner of the document.
- Go to Info and click on the Protect document option. It will show the security options.
- Select the Always open read-only option.
- Now save and close the document.
- Reopen the File again, and it will show the flash message to inform that read-only mode.
- Click yes to open the document and get access to the read-only File.
This makes it easy for users to share the data and keep it protected in its original form.
If you press no in the flash message box, it will take you to edit mode as you are the author.
But the unauthorized person is not able to open the editable mode.
However, it is easier for the other persons to check the data you want to share.
2. Adding password encryption to MS Word
If you want an added layer of extra security, password encryption is the perfect solution.
Only the author can open, read and edit the password-encrypted document.
Keep in mind though, there is no way to recover the document if you forget the password.
Now, here’s how to add password encryption to MS Word:
- When you enter the content, go to file at the top left corner.
- Now click on the INFO option, and it will lead you to another page.
- Here you will find the Protect Document option. Click on it and choose you will get a list of security options.
- Click on the Encrypt with a password.
- Now, there appears a dialog box that demands the password. Ensure that you enter your password carefully and note it somewhere in case you forget it.
- Save the document for checking the password. Reopen the File, and it will demand the password to enter or access the document.
Now no one can see your document unless you share the password.
If you want to remove the encryption, it is also straightforward.
But it is only possible when you know the password as the Word document will demand to open and remove it.
Once you remove the password, anyone can easily open, read and edit it.
So, the next time you’re sharing the document with a colleague, make sure you trust them and that you note the password as well.
What happens if you DO forget the password though?
In that case, there are still some methods to try and unlock the document.
See our full guide on what to do if you forgot your password for 7 ways to unlock a document.
3. Restricting MS Word content editing
The format editing method is a way to protect the document format and keep it final.
However, the restricted content editing helps to prevent the data from being original after sharing with multiple people.
Here’s how to restrict content editing in a Word document:
- Go to the File option from the left corner. Click on Info and then protect the document.
- Open the restriction editing, and it will show a pane on the right side of the document.
- Now click on “allow only this type of editing in the document” under the editing restriction option.
- It will show the drop-down menu to choose the four options.
- Select and turn on Track Changes in the document. It will restrict all others from making any change.
- Enable comments that allow readers to comment on your document but are unable to make changes.
- The filling in forms allows the reader to fill the form that the authors create for readers and don’t make any modifications to the content.
- No changes, but the read-only option is similar to the read-only mode. It will not allow the reader to comment or modify the content.