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How to encrypt PDF files on macOS and Windows – Complete Guide

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password protected pdf

PDFs are the most common attachments in the email after docs. These lightweight, presentable documents are excellent for communication, research, information, statistics, or just about any literary work. However, despite the easy flow of information they allow, PDFs can often be responsible for data leaks

Amidst this, since the encryption is the best method of maintaining privacy and security, precaution entails encrypting your PDF file while enclosing sensitive information within it. 

Encrypting your PDF documents is somewhat easy, and various online tools are available. But do you really want to upload your sensitive data on a website for any random stranger to store it? Even if it is for the “noble purpose” of encrypting it, what makes you sure that the site owner won't try to exploit it? After all, they don't owe you to protect your data; you blindly trust them. 

So, the best course of action is to take power into your hands and proceed with manual efforts, to prevent data loss of all kinds. 

How to choose the most robust password

Encrypting data stands for converting your data to an unreadable form called “chipper text format.” PDFs give you some sort of security in the case of password protection, but they will not encrypt the actual file. 

There are software and tools available online which can be used to unlock PDF files by performing “script guessing.” The technique involves using tools running many common passwords and combinations of words to open the PDF. However, you can prevent this by choosing a strong password. 

You have two options now.

  1. You can use combinations of characters, Upper and lower case, with numeric numbers and geometrical alphabets.
  2. You can use online trusted tools and set it to 16 numbers to generate the most robust password. Like here

Once you get your password, let's begin with steps to password-protected PDF.

How to encrypt PDF Files On Mac 

Time Needed 6 minutes.

Steps to make your PDF password protected.

  1. Open your PDF document and gou003eFile


  2. Click on File and Go Fileu003eExport….

  3. Choose a location where you want to create a password-protected File, and you can see the checkbox “Encrypt.”

  4. Click on “Encrypt” and set a password; use the strongest password you have generated from the above method.

  5. Locate your Encrypted File, and There you have it.

  6. Double-click on the document, and it will look like this.

  7. Enter your password and confirm if it's working or not.

How to Encrypt PDF In Windows:

In Windows, there isn't any built-in feature available to encrypt PDF files, but you can use a third-party app, “Xodo,” to encrypt them. However, keep in mind while making it password-protected to use a secure and strongest password, as I have mentioned above.

  1. Open the Microsoft store and search “Xodo” or “pdf reader by xodo”
  2. Install it, launch it and click on that big “Open Document.”
  3. Now, after that, browse your file
  4. Now click on Save a copy, and choose Encrypted
  5. Now set a password and hit save
  6. The encryption is done, now double click to open the pdf file
  7. Now enter your password to access your encrypted pdf file

How Secure Is Your PDF Encryption?

Since your newly encrypted file contains sensitive information, checking your PDF’s security is crucial. You can do so by searching “unlock my PDF” and opening a couple of top sites that appear. Randomly pick any website and upload a password-protected PDF to check if it will unlock or not. In my case, this was the result:

As you can see, it's said, “it will take years to decrypt.” Usually, decoder software uses millions of combinations to guess the password, but if you use some most robust combinations of passwords mentioned above can skip the bot.


How to encrypt a pdf file for email

If you ask about actual chipper encryption, you need to make a folder and put everything in. go to disk utility in mac and create an image; explain the process here. If you just want to password-protect PDF files, then the process is already described above.

Is it a free way to do it?

Yes, it's a 100% free and risk-free process to encrypt and decrypt the PDF.

how to password-protect a pdf in adobe reader for free?

The process is the same; you just need to export on the mac. And follow the same guidelines.

Ending Opinion

Remember: the whole process will make your PDFs strong enough to send through email and decrypt from the other side by a password. But it's not the actual encryption. 

If you want to learn more about making it encrypted, here is the guide on encrypting files and folders

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Waqas is a cybersecurity journalist and writer who has a knack for writing technology and online privacy-focused articles. He strives to help achieve a secure online environment and is skilled in writing topics related to cybersecurity, AI, DevOps, Cloud security, and a lot more. As seen in: Computer.org, Nordic APIs, Infosecinstitute.com, Tripwire.com, and VentureBeat.

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