You already know you should be encrypting all of your data and that uploading and sharing documents through a secure portal is the gold standard. But what if you do not want to, or are unable, to do so?
One easy way to ensure a document remains safe is to add a password to it in Microsoft Word. Here’s how to do it on a Windows machine and on a Mac.
Encrypting a Document in Microsoft Word for Windows
We are going to be using Microsoft Word 2010 for these screenshots, but the same commands apply for all versions after that. However, if you are using the online only version of Word packaged in Online Office 365, you are out of luck. You can’t password protect documents in that version, period.
Open an existing Word document or a new document and go to File and select Info. You will see an option called Protect Document.
Click on Protect Document, and you will get this menu:
Once you choose Encrypt with Password, Word will prompt you to add a password. Either use something you know you will remember or write it down—there is no way you can recover the document if you forget.
After you choose a password, Word will prompt you to enter it again.
When you try to open the document again, you will get a message informing you the document is password protected.
Encrypting a Document in Microsoft Word for Mac
We are using Microsoft Word 2016 for these screenshots, but the same commands should also work for legacy versions. The method is very similar to that of Windows, but the commands appear in different places in the ribbon.
Just as in the Windows version, start by opening an existing Word document or a new one. Go to Review and you will see, at the far right of the screen, the Protect Document option.
Click that, and it will give you this pop-up:
From there, add a password. As with the Windows version of Word, the program will prompt you to enter the password again.
That’s it. You’re done. When you try to open this document again, you will see this:
If you send this document to someone, they will need the password to open it. Alternatively, on a Mac, you can set it so your recipient can open it without the password, but they will need a password to modify. Just go through the same steps as above, but instead of choosing Set a password to open this document choose Set a password to modify this document.
There you have it. With a few brief clicks in Windows or Mac, you can increase the security level of a document. Now you have no excuse for not doing it.