How to password protect a PDF

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How to password protect your PDFs

This guide assumes you are using Adobe Acrobat, one of the most commonly used PDF readers.

You can add passwords to your PDFs using the Adobe online tool.

  1. When in Adobe Acrobat, go to File > Protect Using Password OR go to Tools > Protect > Protect Using Password
  2. If prompted, click Yes to confirm the change.
  3. Choose Editing from the dialog box that appears and then confirm the password you’ve chosen.
  4. Click Apply and check the change has been made via the confirmation message.

However, although this is a simple method, you’re better off not adding a password at all.

Why you SHOULDN’T password protect a PDF!

Wait – a password is a bad thing?! In many cases, we would usually say not at all – passwords are a vital first step in securing your files, devices, and much more. However, when it comes to PDF documents, they are a weak and futile defense against hackers. It’s not secure in the slightest, with the password being easily circumvented using tactics such as brute force attacks. PDFs can also be easily forwarded via email (along with the password no less), which means they can be easily distributed without any sort of recipient validation. Emails in general aren’t secure, as we’ve mentioned on this blog previously. Once it’s in the wild, it’s out of your control and you’re trusting whoever has a copy of the file to not distribute it or store it somewhere. Not great if it’s a highly confidential file!

How do I protect my PDFs then?

Using a solution such as safedrop is a good place to start. A common misconception is that your PDFs are secure, which we’ve debunked. You can securely send files of all types including a PDFs (and more), with the option available to send an encrypted message alongside it (which you can put the password in if needed). For an extra layer of security, you can actually set a password on the safedrop itself. We would never recommend sending a password via email if you can avoid it, as it is poor security practice, and really defeats the point of a password altogether. When using safedrop, it’s a simple and elegant solution. It’s super easy to send a safedrop, and it saves time and hassle worrying about whether or not your files are secure.

You can get started now by signing up for an account at