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How-to password protect Documents in OSX - Part 2

In Part 1 of this Blog Tip we learned how to encrypt a PDF in Preview. In today's tip we'll cover how to convert virtually any document to a PDF and explore some advanced encryption techniques.

Step 1 - Convert any Document to a PDF

You can use almost any application in Mac OSX to convert it's native document type to a PDF if it supports Printing. For this example, I've navigated to a web page in Safari, but you can try this with any other application. Choose the following:

File > Print...

Click on the PDF button in the bottom left to view your Printing workflows and from the drop-down menu choose:

Save as PDF...

Choose a name and location and click Save. Your document has now been saved in PDF format!

Step 2 - Password Protect any Document

Follow the steps above. Before clicking on the Save button choose Security Options...

Enable the Require password to open document checkbox. Then specify your chosen password. Once you save the document it's contents will not be viewable using Quick Look or in the Finder and the correct password must be entered for it to be opened in Preview.

Step 3 - Password for Copying Content and/or Printing a PDF

These are my absolute favorite passwords to apply to a PDF. It's often the case that I want to share my drafts of my training materials with others so they, and only they, can read them but not have easy access to copy any of my content. In this situation, creating a PDF which requires a password in order to be opened does not protect my data.

In the PDF Security Options window click on the Require password to copy, text, images and other content checkbox to disable the user from copying and pasting your hard work or copyrighted materials into their own documents.

Click the Require password to print document checkbox to prevent your PDF from being printed via a physical printer or being Printed to a PDF.

The neat trick here is you can set one password to enable opening the document and a separate password to enable printing or copying content. Just make sure your passwords are not easy to guess but are easy for you to remember!

I would also urge you to consider even more powerful encryption methods for extremely sensitive data, such as bank details, Visa card pin numbers, etc. Interested to know more about how to keep your computer and files safe and secure? This tutorial will show you the way.

Rounik Sethi

Rounik Sethi | Articles by this author

Rounik is the Executive Editor for Ask.Audio & macProVideo. He's built a crack team of professional musicians and writers to create one of the most visited online resources for news, review, tutorials and interviews for modern musician and producer. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic Pro Rounik has taught teachers, professional musicians and hobbyists how to get the best out of Apple's creative software. He has been a visiting lecturer at Bath Spa University's Teacher training program, facilitating workshops on using music and digital media tools in the classroom. If you're looking for Rounik, you'll most likely find him (and his articles) on Ask.Audio & macProVideo.com.


Dec 10, 2010
Hey again Rounik,
Does this tip transfer over to the non-mac world? i.e, if I protect a PDF on my mac and email to my friend who has a PC, will he need the password to open it?
Great stuff as always. Keep it up!
Dec 11, 2010
Hi Ed, Yes. it'll work on PDF's wherever you send them to. So, your PC friend will need the password to open/print/copy and paste the document.

Feb 27, 2011
Gary Hiebner
Great advice on how to password protect documents
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