How to Password Protect a PDF on Mac: A Comprehensive Guide


Are you in search of a way to protect your sensitive PDF documents from prying eyes? Do you use a Mac and are unsure of how to password protect your PDF files? Look no further, as we have put together a comprehensive guide to help you with exactly that.

Whether it’s for personal or work purposes, protecting your PDF files is crucial to ensuring the safety and confidentiality of the information they contain. In this article, we will guide you through 12 easy steps to password protect your PDF files on a Mac. We will also provide you with tips and tricks to keep your files safe and secure.

So, let’s get started with the steps!


Step 1: Open the PDF in Preview

Drag and Drop

The first step is to open your PDF file on preview. One of the easiest ways to do this is to simply drag and drop the file onto the Preview icon that you find on your Mac’s dock.

File -> Open

Alternatively, you can open the preview application, then go to the “File” menu and select “Open” to bring up the Finder window. From here, navigate to the location of your PDF file and open it.

Step 2: Click the Lock Icon

Once you have your PDF file open in Preview, click on the “Show Markup Toolbar” button, which resembles a pen tip on a square icon located in the top-right corner of the Preview window to reveal the Markup toolbar.

In the Markup toolbar, click on the “Lock” icon which is located on the left-hand side. This will display the “Set Password” dialogue box where you can enter the desired password for your PDF file.

Step 3: Input the Password

In the “Set Password” dialogue box, you will need to input your password and confirm it. Additionally, there’s an option to include a hint to remind you of the password if you forget it. We advise against using the same password for multiple files and recommend that you use a strong, unique password that you won’t forget.

Step 4: Choose Encryption Level

Next, select the encryption level that you want for your file. The default encryption level is 128-bit AES, which provides robust security. This level of encryption means that if your PDF is intercepted by an unauthorized party, they won’t be able to open or view the document without the correct password.

256-bit AES Encryption

If you collaborate on sensitive documents with corporations or government entities, they might require that you use 256-bit AES encryption. In this case, we suggest that you examine their security policy by contacting them directly before changing your encryption level.

Step 5: Save a Copy

Now that you have added the password and set the encryption level, it’s time to save your password-protected PDF copy. Go to the ‘File’ menu and select “Save As” to bring up the save dialogue box.

Step 6: Give Your File a Name

Next, give your file a new name. Even though you could overwrite the existing file, we recommend that you save a copy with a different name, just in case you lose the password for the file. We also suggest that you store the password separately in a safe place.

Step 7: Select the Security Options Button

Once you’ve given your file a new name, click on the “Security Options” button to change the permissions and the security features for your PDF file.

Step 8: Select Printing Restrictions

In particular, on the ‘Permissions’ tab of the ‘Security Options’ window, you can choose the restrictions you want to impose on the PDF file. Choose whether you would like to restrict printing, copying, and modifications to the document.

Step 9: Allow for Forms and Annotations

You can also choose to allow for form fields and annotations on your PDF, in the ‘Changes Allowed’ section of the ‘Security Options’ window.

Step 10: Save Changes

Once you have set the necessary restrictions, click on “OK” to return to the save dialogue box. Click on “Save” to save your password-protected PDF file with the changes you have made.

Step 11: Verify Your Password Protection

To verify that your password protection has worked, close your newly created password-protected PDF file on Preview. Open it again and you should see a prompt that asks for the password. If the password is entered correctly, the PDF opens, and you can read its content. If the wrong password is entered or no password is entered, the file remains locked.

Step 12: Share Your Protected PDF File

Congratulations! You have now successfully password-protected your PDF file on Mac. You can safely share this file with colleagues, clients, or anyone you need to send it to, knowing that its contents are secure and confidential.


The steps above outline a simple yet effective way to password protect your PDF file on a Mac. With password protection, you can rest assured that your sensitive files remain safe and secure from unauthorized access.

It’s worth noting that while password protection provides a layer of security to your PDF document, it isn’t entirely fool-proof. Passwords can be cracked or bypassed by someone who has advanced hacking skills or uses specialized software. Therefore, it’s essential that you take additional measures to ensure that the information in your files remains as secure as possible.

Tips and Tricks

1. Use a strong password

A strong password should be at least eight characters long, and include both uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols. Avoid using common words or phrases that can easily be guessed by hackers.

2. Change your passwords regularly

Change your passwords at least every 90 days, or more frequently if you’re working with sensitive information.

3. Don’t write your password down

Never write down your password or store it in an unencrypted file on your computer. Opt for a secure password manager like LastPass or 1Password to store your passwords in a safe and encrypted space.

4. Use two-factor authentication

Enable two-factor authentication for added security, where you have to provide two methods of authentication, such as a password and a unique code generated from an app or a device. This adds an extra layer of security as a hacker would need both to gain access to your files.

5. Store your files on a secure server

Store your files on a secure server that provides encryption, physical security, and backup so that you can easily retrieve them if you experience data loss.

6. Delete files you no longer need

Unnecessary files don’t just clutter up your system; they increase your risk of a data breach. Delete files that you no longer need or don’t require access to for the foreseeable future.

7. Be wary of phishing scams

Phishing scams are designed to trick you into providing sensitive information by posing as a genuine email or website. Always be cautious when disclosing personal information or clicking on links in emails.

8. Keep your software up to date

Make sure you keep your software up to date with the latest security patches and updates. This helps to protect you against newly discovered vulnerabilities and exploits.

9. Encrypt your backups

Encrypt your backups to prevent unauthorized access to your files in the event of a data breach. This way, even if an attacker gains access to your backup data, they won’t be able to read or modify your sensitive files.

10. Consider using a VPN

Use a Virtual Private Network when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi or working remotely. This ensures that your online activities are encrypted and secure.


In conclusion, password-protecting your PDF files on a Mac isn’t a difficult process once you know the steps you need to follow. By following the 12 steps above, you can ensure that any sensitive documents you have are protected from unauthorized access. Additionally, by implementing the tips and tricks we have provided you, you can add an extra layer of security and keep your data safe and secure.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Password Protecting a PDF on Mac


1. Data Security – Password protecting a PDF on Mac helps to ensure that your confidential information is secure

2. Control over who views documents – This feature allows you to limit the number of people who can access your PDF files

3. Intact formatting – The formatting of a PDF file is maintained when password protected. This means that even if you share the file with someone else, they will not be able to make any changes to it.

4. Easy to use – The password protecting feature on Mac devices is user-friendly and can be accessed without the need for any external software.

5. Practical – PDF password protection is practical for businesses or even individuals who need to share sensitive documents with others.

6. Professionalism – Password protection of PDF files is considered a professional attitude, and it shows that you take data security seriously.

7. Versatility – You can password protect any type of PDF file, whether text-based or image-based.

8. Minimal cost – There are no additional costs for password protecting PDF files since it comes with the Mac device.

9. Manipulation-free – Password protecting PDF files helps guard against unauthorized editing, copying, cutting, or pasting, among other manipulations.

10. Reusability – Password-protected PDF documents can be reused easily, and the password only needs to be shared with the intended recipient.


1. Forgotten Passwords – If the password is lost, there is no easy way to retrieve the data in the file, rendering it unusable

2. Limited File Compatibility – Not all PDF readers support password protection features, which may make the documents inaccessible to some readers

3. Bigger File Size – Password-protected PDF files often have larger sizes than unprotected files, which may present storage challenges for some users

4. Not 100% Secure – Password protection is not a guarantee that your PDF file is safe from hackers or other malicious activities.

5. Need for Secure Storage – Password protecting your document does not guarantee that it will remain secure if stored in an insecure location.

6. Compatibility issues with older devices – Some older devices may not support password-protected PDF files or may require additional software to open them.

7. Cumbersome workflow process – Password protection requires you to enter a password every time you want to access the file, which can be cumbersome if you have many documents to access.

8. Can be time-consuming – Password-protecting many files can be time-consuming, especially if you have to enter a different password for each document.

9. Password sharing risks – Sharing passwords can be a risk if not properly managed. It’s important to share passwords using secure means.

10. Loss of shared access – Password protecting your document may limit easy collaboration or sharing with others, limiting access to authorized users.

FAQ: How to Password Protect a PDF on Mac

1. Why should I password protect my PDF?

PDFs often contain sensitive information that should only be accessible by authorized individuals. Password protecting a PDF is a great way to ensure that only those with the correct password can view or edit the document.

2. What software do I need to password protect a PDF on Mac?

You can use the built-in Preview app on your Mac to password protect a PDF. Alternatively, there are third-party PDF editors that have this feature available.

3. How do I open a PDF in Preview?

Simply double-click on the PDF file and it should automatically open in Preview. If it doesn’t, right-click on the file and select “Open With” and then “Preview”.

4. How do I password protect a PDF in Preview?

Open the PDF in Preview and go to “File” > “Export”. In the Export dialog box, check the “Encrypt” checkbox and enter your desired password. Click “Save” and your PDF is now password protected.

5. What if I forget the password to my password-protected PDF?

Unfortunately, if you forget the password to a password-protected PDF, you will not be able to access the contents of the document. Make sure to keep a secure record of your passwords.

6. Can I change the password on a password-protected PDF?

Yes, you can change the password on a password-protected PDF. Open the PDF in Preview and go to “File” > “Export”. In the Export dialog box, check the “Encrypt” checkbox, enter the current password, and then enter your new password. Click “Save” and your PDF now has a new password.

7. Can I remove the password from a password-protected PDF?

Yes, you can remove the password from a password-protected PDF. Open the PDF in Preview and go to “File” > “Export”. In the Export dialog box, uncheck the “Encrypt” checkbox and enter the current password. Click “Save” and your PDF is no longer password protected.

8. Can I password protect multiple PDFs at once?

No, you cannot password protect multiple PDFs at once in Preview. You will need to password protect each PDF individually.

9. Can I preview a password-protected PDF without entering the password?

No, you cannot preview the contents of a password-protected PDF without entering the correct password.

10. Can I edit a password-protected PDF without entering the password?

No, you cannot edit the contents of a password-protected PDF without entering the correct password.

11. Can I print a password-protected PDF?

Yes, you can print a password-protected PDF. However, make sure to keep a secure record of your passwords so that you can print the PDF later if necessary.

12. Can I email a password-protected PDF?

Yes, you can email a password-protected PDF. However, make sure to send the password through a secure communication channel to ensure that only the intended recipient can access the PDF.

13. Is password protecting a PDF on Mac secure?

Yes, password protecting a PDF on Mac is a secure way to prevent unauthorized access. However, make sure to use a strong password and keep it secure to prevent any potential security breaches.

How to Password Protect a PDF on Mac

PDF documents can contain sensitive and confidential information that you wouldn’t want to be accessed by just anyone. Which is why, it’s important to password protect your PDFs to ensure that only authorized people have access to them. By adding a password to your PDF, you’re guaranteeing that the information contained within remains safe and secure.

Conclusion and Closing

As you can see, password protecting a PDF on Mac is incredibly simple and straightforward. By following these basic steps, you can ensure the safety and security of your sensitive and confidential information. Whether you’re looking to add an extra layer of protection to your work documents or simply want to keep your personal documents safe from prying eyes, protecting a PDF with a password is the way to go. So, go ahead and give it a try. You won’t regret it!

Thank you for reading! We hope this article has been helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. And as always, stay safe and secure!