How to Password Protect Any File

You never know when one of your files can reach someone they weren’t meant to reach – perhaps through an email forwarding, a USB stick left on a desk, or maybe even an unauthorized user accessing your computer.

Should that happen, the only thing that stands between your data and the people you don’t want to see is password protection. It’s an extra layer of security that you can add to your most sensitive files without too much effort.

How you do this depends on the software you use to create the file. Some applications have built-in password protection features, while others require you to lock your files in a different way.

Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint

Add a password to a document in Word.

Microsoft Word by David Nield

In Word, Excel, or PowerPoint for Windows, open the file you want to password protect, then select: File and Info† You should see a Protect option at the top of the following list: Click this button, choose Encrypt with passwordand type your password.

Passwords can be up to 15 characters long and are case sensitive, so double check what you type. If you forget the password for a document, spreadsheet, or presentation, you won’t be able to get in – you’ll have to start over.

If you’re using Office on macOS, the process is slightly different: Open the Review tab in the ribbon menu at the top, then click the To protect button to enter a password. (The button will be labeled slightly differently depending on the program you’re in.)

Google Docs, Sheets and Slides

Share a document in Google Docs.

Google Docs via David Nield

There is no password protection feature as such in Google Drive, as your files are already protected by a password: the password associated with your Google account that you use to log in and view your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

If you choose to share a file from Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides, via the large Part button in the top right corner when you’re working on something – you can invite specific users to see it (via their email addresses) or generate a link for anyone to use.

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