Password Protect files

At some point you may need to create a document with sensitive information in it that needs to be protected from unauthorized access. While it is not possible to password protect an entire folder without special software, here is how to protect individual files.

Before we start, a word on security. Password protecting a file will not stop a determined person from using special software to hack the password and gain access to your file, which is why it is important to use a strong password (see the June 2014 issue) which will make hacking your file much more difficult or practically impossible.

For Excel and Word files, go to the File menu and select the Save As option. Once you have browsed to the location you want to save the file to and entered a name for your file, click on the Tools dropdown list which is next to the Save button and select “General Options” and the password box will open.

Here you can enter two types of passwords, a password that will be required to open your file, and another to protect the file from any changes, which I should mention, is easy to hack. Enter a strong password in the “Password to open” box and click the OK button. You will then need to re-enter the password and then the Save button.

If you are creating a document using Word 2013 or 2016 and saving that document in PDF format, in the Save As dialogue box, select PDF from the file type and then click the Options button. Tick the “Encrypt the document with a password” checkbox and click OK. You then need to enter a password twice. When saved, this will create a protected PDF document.

To password protect a section in OneNote, right click the section tab and select “Password protect this section”. Click the “Set password” button on the Password protection panel, and enter a password twice, then click OK. Finally press the CTRL, ALT and L keys together to lock the section. To unlock the section, go to the section and press the Enter key and you will be prompted for your password.