Want to make your PDF files extra secure without using Adobe Acrobat?
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Password protecting a PDF document is a simple way to keep your file content safe and sound. In fact, it is one of the most secure and common ways for data management in many businesses where keeping information safe is essential.
And while Adobe Acrobat can be a very straightforward tool, not everyone uses it as their go-to PDF management tool.
So below, we’ll be covering some of the best ways to password protect a PDF file without using Adobe Acrobat specifically.
Below, we’ll teach you how to do so online, offline, with third-party PDF tools, Google Docs, and more.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- 2 Main Types Of PDF Password Protection And When To Use Each
- Why Not Use Adobe Acrobat To Password Protect Your PDF Documents
- How To Password Protect A PDF File Online
- How To Password Protect A PDF File With PDFElement
- How To Password Protect A PDF File With PDF2go Tool
- How To Password Protect A PDF File With FoxitPDF
- How To Unlock A Password Protected PDF File
- How To Password Protect Your Google Docs Content
2 Main Types Of PDF Password Protection And When To Use Each
PDF is the best format for digital document management and for many businesses it’s the go-to format for their file management.
It’s one of the most common file formats in any business, but some people are still unaware of its encryption functionalities.
Before we teach you all the different ways to password protect or encrypt your PDF documents, it’s worth going over the 2 main ways you can protect your documents and how. Which are as follows.
A user lock protection restricts the readers from taking any further actions in attempts to copy, edit, print, or share the document.
This feature requires a permission password such that users cannot access those functionalities without it as they are disabled. These advanced functions, therefore, make it very easy for the original file owner or sender to protect the document.
Owner-lock protection is used to set document restrictions in PDF files. Some of the document restrictions that could be placed by the owner include;
- Changing the document.
- Document assembly.
- Content copying.
- Content copying for accessibility.
- Page and graphics extraction.
- Filling of form fields.
- Creation of template pages.
Other ways to protect or secure your PDF documents include:
- Digital Watermarking Examples: Overview, How-to, And When to Use Each
- PDF Security: What Is DRM Protection? (Overview & How to Add)
- PDF & Document Tracking: Track and See Who Viewed Your PDF Documents
Why Not Use Adobe Acrobat To Password Protect Your PDF Documents
Now, if you’re wondering why you should or shouldn’t use Adobe Acrobat to protect your sensitive documents, here’s what you need to know.
Acrobat (or Adobe Acrobat Reader) is a free PDF file reader tool that was released in 1993 to help view, print, annotate, and edit PDF documents. Since then, more and more features have been added.
However, Adobe is not often recommended as the ideal PDF tool to protect or encrypt your documents. There have been issues in the past regarding some of its security flaws. And if you want advanced features (as well as future updates, quarterly security enhancements, software improvements, etc.), you need to pay for Adobe Acrobat Pro.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking to simply password protect or encrypt your PDF documents, there are easier ways to do so.
Here’s what you need to know.
How To Password Protect A PDF File Online
There are many different online tools you can use to password-protect your PDF files.
For simplicity’s sake, you can use Small PDF, which provides a simple and smart solution for your encryption needs, regardless of the contents within your PDF.
Here’s how to password protect your PDF files with SmallPDF:
- Open SmallPDF on your MAC or PC.
- Locate the Protect PDF tool and click on it.
- Choose your file, or drag and drop it into the field.
- Input your top-secret password and click “Encrypt PDF”.
- Download your new password-protected file.
How To Password Protect A PDF File With PDFElement
Another way you can password protect your PDF documents is with PDFelement.
This makes certain that no viewer can decipher its contents without the correct password.
Here’s how to password protect your PDF files with PDFelement:
- Open your PDFelement and click on the Protect tab.
- Click Password.
- Locate the Password Security dialog box, then, enable the “Require a password to open the document” option by checking the box with your mouse.
- Enter a strong password in the Password field and confirm it in the Confirm Password field.
- Click OK.
How To Password Protect A PDF File With PDF2go Tool
PDF2Go is another online PDF converter and management tool that lets you:
- Compress files.
- Lock or unlock documents.
- Merge files.
- Sort and delete specific pages.
- And more.
It also lets you password protect your files online. Here’s how to do that:
- Open PDF2go online.
- Upload your PDF file and choose what your users are allowed to do on the document.
- Enter and repeat a permission password.
- Click on Start.
How To Password Protect A PDF File With FoxitPDF
Foxit PDF editor is a great alternative to Adobe Acrobat.
The PDF tool allows you to easily create, modify, and edit documents across desktop, mobile, and web.
If you don’t want to use Adobe Acrobat, here’s how to password protect your PDF documents with Foxit:
- Open the Foxit PDF on your device.
- Choose Protect> Secure Document> Password Protect, or you could click File> Properties> Security. Then, choose Password protection from the drop-down list.
- In the Password Protection dialog box, select the types of restrictions you want and set the password.
How To Unlock A Password Protected PDF File
What if you want to unlock a password-protected PDF instead?
There are ways to get around the protection.
If you know what the original password is, you can simply remove the lock.
However, if you’re not the owner of the document, there are still certain steps you can take. Read more on that below.
Now, while the exact steps of unlocking a password-protected PDF file might vary depending on the software, usually they are as follows:
- Open your PDF document.
- Choose ‘tools’, ‘encrypt’, ‘remove security’.
- If the PDF document has a Document Open Password, click OK to remove it.
- If your PDF document has a permissions password, type the correct password in the box and click OK to remove it.
Why remove a password?
Password removal may sound suspicious. But more often than not, passwords need to be removed for convenience's sake.
The most common reason to remove a password from a secured PDF file is that you don't need that information anymore or it's no longer relevant.
If the content of the PDF is no longer sensitive or private, it's time to remove the lock.
And you can unlock a PDF document with just about any tools mentioned above - with or without Adobe Acrobat, online, with Word, and more.
For more information on password removal, be sure to also read:
- Forgot Your PDF Password? 7 Ways to Unlock a PDF
- 5+ Ways To Remove A Password From a Word document (With Examples)
- How to Password Protect PDF Files on Mac
How To Password Protect Your Google Docs Content
Finally, the last form of password protection we’ll cover has to do with Google Docs.
Google Docs is well known by professionals for its user-friendly features that help users create and make edits to documents online.
Just as easy it is to use Google Docs for document collaboration, the chances of sensitive information getting out increases with each share.
Fortunately, it’s quite easy to password protect your Google Docs files.
You can either use a Google Drive password extension or convert your file to a Word or PDF document.
For a detailed breakdown of this and other practical methods with examples, see our full guide on how to password protect Google Docs.
Hope this guide to password-protecting PDF documents was helpful!
As you can see, you don’t even need to use Adobe Acrobat for this. There are many other options, from online tools to third-party software you can use to edit, adjust, or modify your PDF documents.
Now, if you’re looking for more ways to edit or adjust your PDFs, be sure to also read: