Password-protecting a PDF is one of the most basic steps you can take to prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. PDF encryption makes sense for tax forms, medical information, and other documents that need to be tightly controlled. In our previous tutorial, we showed you how to password protect PDF files in Windows and MacOS using some free(ish) solutions. Today, I’m going to show you a more full-featured PDF password protection method using Wondershare PDFelement. With PDFelement, you can prevent users from opening a PDF without the password, but you can also restrict editing and printing with a little more granularity than the methods we showed you before. PDFelement is available for Windows and Mac, but I’ll show you the Windows version.
Encrypting a PDF in PDFelement (Password Protected PDFs)
When you add a password to a PDF, you are also encrypting it. This means that even if someone were to somehow bypass the prompt to enter a password, they wouldn’t be able to decipher the contents without first entering the password. Adding a password to an existing PDF in PDFelement is simple.
- Open the PDF in PDFelement and click the Protect tab.
- Click Password.
- In the Password Security dialog, enable the “Require a password to open the document” option by placing a check in the box.
- Enter a password in the Password field and confirm it in the Confirm Password field.
- Click OK.
Done. Now, when someone opens the PDF in any program, they’ll be prompted to enter the password.
PDFelement PDF Restrictions
You can restrict editing and printing of PDFs in lieu of or in addition to encrypting your PDF using the same Password Security dialog. This is handy say if you want to send someone a sample brochure but you aren’t granting them copyright permission, or if you have a standard form that you don’t want anyone altering.
- From the Password Security dialog (Protect > Password), go to the Permissions section and enable “Require a password to change security settings and get access to specific functions.”
- Enter a password and confirm it in the appropriate fields.
- Modify the settings as you see fit. Click OK when done. — Here are your options:
- Printing allowed: Choose from None, Low Resolution, or High Resolution.
- Changes allowed: Choose from Inserting, deleting and rotating pages; Filling form files and signing; Commenting, filling form fields, and signing; Any except extract pages.
- Enable copying of text, images, and other content: Enable or disable.
Permissions and restricted editing are different from encrypting the entire PDF. It’s also less secure. Most programs will honor the permissions you’ve set. For example, when you disable printing in a PDF and open it in Microsoft Edge, the Print option is grayed out.
The password you put in the permissions section only applies to changing these restrictions in a supported program (like PDFelement and Adobe Acrobat). You don’t need to enter a password to view the file, so it means that someone determined could potentially circumvent these settings. In fact, Wondershare makes a program that removes PDF restrictions called Wondershare PDF Password Remover. To be clear, programs like Wondershare PDF Password Remover won’t let you crack an encrypted PDF—you’ll still need to know the password to access the file initially if you’ve password protected the whole thing. But if you’ve only set restrictions using the permissions section, your PDF isn’t encrypted.
Wondershare PDFelement has a password management feature that lets you store passwords for easy access to encrypted and password protected files. For example, let’s say you work in an office that always encrypts passwords using a specific password. Or maybe there’s a specific password that’s used for employees at a certain level or users with a certain need-to-know (NTK). You can enter up to three passwords into the Password Management dialog so that they’ll be automatically entered when you open a password-protected PDF in PDFelement. This will save you from typing and retyping complex passwords.
- Click the Protect tab.
- Click Password Management.
- Enter up to three passwords and click OK.
Now, when you open a password-protected PDF, you won’t be prompted to enter your password (as long as it’s one of the three in your password management settings). Consider it like a PDF keychain.
Full Wondershare PDFelement Review
If this program looks familiar to you, it’s because we reviewed this earlier on groovyPost. Check it out: WonderShare PDFelement Review: Lightweight, Full-Featured Adobe Acrobat Alternative.
I do want to note that since we last reviewed PDFElement, Wondershare has released an update. We reviewed PDFelement Version 5.10.1 for Windows. The latest is PDFelement Version 5.11.0 for Windows. New features and improvements include:
- OCR and scanning
- Change DPI setting to higher resolution when performing OCR on a single scanned PDF.
- Perform OCR on selected page only.
- Additional OCR language support to Swedish, Finnish, Danish and Norwegian.
- Pause and resume when downloading OCR plugin.
- Batch OCR of multiple scanned PDF files.
- Editing and viewing PDFs
- Move an object with arrow keys.
- PDF bookmarks displayed by default when the view option is set in auto mode.
- Enhanced support for Variable Text in PDF files.
- Improved performance for redaction features with higher accuracy and speed.
- Bug fixes and other minor changes
One more thing… it’s a groovyGiveaway!
PDFelement is a stellar PDF editing tool that takes you above and beyond what free PDF editors let you do. At a price of $69.95 (without OCR) or $89.95 (with OCR), it’s a much more affordable option than Adobe Acrobat, making it an alternative I’d highly recommend for offices and small businesses.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could get it for free? If you’re 1 of 8 lucky groovyPost readers, you can! We’re giving away eight full licenses for Wondershare PDFelement for free. To enter, just retweet this article on Twitter with the hashtag #groovygiveaway. The first eight readers to retweet the article will get a free license for PDFelement.
Click here to retweet this article and enter the giveaway. The first eight readers to retweet this post will get a free copy of PDFelement.