How to Pass­word Pro­tect PDF File on Win­dows and Mac

Parth Shah

Work from home has enabled a new workflow for the majority of folks. No working directly with co-workers and take coffee breaks in the office. Also, sharing sensitive documents and passing files among employees online has become a bit stressful. After all, you won’t want any third-party to get access to the latest quarterly earnings, sales report, or your hard-earned client lists. For security, add a layer of authentication on PDF files you share in Slack, Zoom, or Skype.

Password protect pdf in windows and mac

One can upload the PDF file to OneDrive and add an expiry time to a shared weblink. Or even better, you can add a password and limit the PDF access to a specific group of people.

Windows and macOS offer native options to password protect PDF. If you are not happy with the built-in solution, then you can always opt for a third-party app from the web. Let’s get started with Mac.

How to Password Protect a PDF on Mac

macOS offers a capable built-in PDF solution with basic editing. Go through the steps below to add a password to PDF on Mac.

Step 1: Open PDF on Mac using the default preview.

Step 2: Tap on File in the menu bar.

Export pdf

Step 3: Select Export and choose PDF as the format from the following menu.

Step 4: Enable Encrypt for the file and add the Password with verification.

Encrypt pdf mac 2

Select the export location and hit Save at the bottom. Now send the PDF file with others and the recipients must use the password to open the PDF file.

Use a Third-Party Solution

Both Windows and macOS are filled with excellent third-party PDF editing apps. All these PDF editing apps offer extra functions such as notes, highlighter, annotation, stamps, signature, and more.

While the Mac ecosystem has capable PDF editing apps, PDF expert came on top in our testing. We will use PDF Expert to secure a PDF file with a password on Mac.

Step 1: Download and install PDF Expert on Mac.

Step 2: Open a PDF file using the PDF Expert software.

Step 3: Make necessary changes using all the features.

Step 4: When you are done editing the PDF file, then tap on the File in the Menu bar.

Pdf expert set password

Step 5: Select Set Password.

Step 6: Add Password and verify your decision.

Pdf expert password added

Go back to the original File location on Mac, and you will see the locked PDF file. After that, anyone who wants to access the file will need a password to glance at the content.

How to Password Protect a PDF on Windows

Many users aren’t familiar with this trick. On Windows, you can simply drag and drop a PDF in Microsoft Word to make changes. We will use Microsoft Word on Windows to add a password to PDF. Go through the steps below to complete the action.

Step 1: Open File Manager on your Windows laptop/PC.

Step 2: Open the Microsoft Word app. Resize the application window and simply drag and drop PDF from the File Manager to Word.

Step 3: Word will automatically convert the PDF file into an editable interface. Make the necessary changes.

Export in word

Step 4: Now tap on the File in the Menu bar. Go to Export and select Create PDF.

Step 5: Select the Export location and tap on the Options at the bottom.

Encrypt in ms word

Step 6: Enable Encrypt with Password, and it will ask you to add a password to protect PDF.

Use a Third-Party Tool

Microsoft Word on PC does require Microsoft 365 subscription to use the PDF functionality. If you are looking for a dedicated PDF editor on Windows, I would advise you to opt for Small PDF.

Two reasons for that. First, it’s web-based, so you don’t have to go through a standard software installation process.

Note: We strongly recommend you to avoid using web-based tools for PDF files containing sensitive information.

Second, you can purchase the subscription and use the service on other platforms such as Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS because it's web-based. Now, go through the steps below.

Step 1: Open to Small PDF site in the web browser.

Step 2: Scroll down to the bottom, and you will see the Protect PDF option.

Protect pdf in small pdf

Step 3: Tap on it. Import the PDF file from the File manager.

Small pdf choose file

Step 4: Add a password for PDF and confirm the password again.

Step 5: Select Encrypt PDF and download the file from the following menu.

Download small pdf

You can also use the email link to email the file to your colleague directly. If you are not happy with Small PDF, you can always try the traditional PDF Editors such as PDFElements, Adobe Acrobat, or Foxit PDF.

Secure PDF Files

It’s essential to lock confidential PDF files from others. While both Windows and Mac offer native solutions to add passwords to PDF, you can always opt for a dedicated PDF editor to unlock more functions. Which solution are you going to choose? Sound off in the comments section below.

Next up: Are you getting confused between PDF Expert and Adobe Acrobat on Mac? Read the post below to clear out your confusion.


The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.

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Parth Shah

Written By

Parth Shah

Parth previously worked at EOTO.tech covering tech news. He is currently freelancing at Guiding Tech writing about apps comparison, tutorials, software tips and tricks and diving deep into iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows platforms.