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How To Create Password Protected PDF Documents

Simi from CA asks:

Can I password protect PDF documents?

There can be times when you need to password protect a PDF document in order to maintain privacy and ensure that only selected people can read the content of the document you’ve created.

The only way you can prevent random people from reading your PDF documents is by protecting it behind a password and giving the password to only people of your choice. In this short tutorial, we will learn how to create a password protected PDF document without using expensive software.

The usual way of creating PDF documents is to use a full featured PDF writer e.g Adobe Acrobat, but if you don’t want to spend a dime for this purpose, here’s an ideal free solution. You can use Microsoft Office, Open Office or any other word processing software to create a PDF document and also password protect it.

Here are the steps that needs to be done:

1. Download Simpo PDF creator lite [1]. SimpoPDF is a free PDF creator and printer for Windows which can be used to create secure PDF documents from any word processing application and encrypt the content (lock the document) behind a password.

2. Install Simpo PDF on your computer running any version of Windows. The installation is pretty straight forward and should take only a few seconds.

3. When the program has finished installing, open Microsoft Word and write the content of your document.

4. Click the office ribbon menu and choose “Print”.

5. In the print options page, select “Simpo PDF Creator” and hit the “Print” button. This won’t print the document on paper, but use the installed virtual printer from Simpo PDF to print the document as a PDF file.

6. Once you select the “Simpo PDF Creator Lite” option and click “Print”, you will see the following dialog box:

7. Click “Settings” and you will be taken to the options window where you have to choose three settings:

– First, select the checkbox “Enable PDF security”.
– Chose an owner password – this will allow you to change the password and attributes of the document at a later point of time.

– Choose a user password – anyone who wants to read the content of the document will be asked to enter this password

This is important: You should remember the owner password, or better yet, write it down on paper, because if you forget or lose it, there is no way you can edit the document later. If you forget the user password, you can reset it, provided you remember the owner password.

You can also enter the “Meta data” details of the document from the “Meta Data” tab. This is not mandatory, but useful when you want to include author information, creation date and other publishing details.

8. When you are done choosing both the user and owner password, fall back to the main window and hit “Save PDF”.

9. All done, the PDF document will be printed as a file and saved in the location you had chosen in step 5.

Now try opening the PDF document in your default PDF reader and you would be asked a password before the content of the document is rendered. I use Google Chrome as my default PDF reader and here is what I was shown:

This is one of the easiest way to create a secured PDF document that is locked behind a password. There is practically no need to buy expensive software for creating encrypted PDF documents as Simpo PDF Creator lite is capable enough of storing your confidential documents behind a password set by you. Give this a try!

~Amit Banerjee