Protecting a Word document helps to avoid someone accidentally open and view its content. You can also restrict the editing permissions and share the document with others so that they can’t modify the file. In another article, we have explained how to password protect Word documents in Microsoft 365 version. Though the overall process is similar in individual Word app, the interface looks different. In this article, we will explain how to protect Word 2021 documents with password in Windows and Mac. The process is also same in 2019 versions.
Different Ways of Protecting Document
Microsoft allows you to restrict the Word document with the following options:
- Completely protect the document with a password. You need to enter the password to view document’s content.
- Restrict editing by other users.
- Make the document read-only.
- Grant permissions to different users.
- Add digital signature.
Let us explain these options.
Password Protect Word 2021 in Windows
If you want to prevent any user to open your document, you can setup a password for it. This protects your document from unauthorized access.
- First, open the document that you want to set password.
- Go to the backstage view using the menu “File > Info”.
- Click on the “Protect Document” button.
- Select the option “Encrypt with Password”.
- Enter a password in the input box. Confirm the password with “OK”.
- In order to reduce the risk of mistyping, Word will ask you to enter the password for a second time. Type the password correctly and confirm again with “OK”.
- Now you can see the color of the “Protect Document” section is change to light yellow. It will also indicate that you need a password to open the document.
Whenever you or any other user open the document, Word will prompt you to enter the password like below.
Mark as Final
Passwords are case sensitive and there is no way to recover the password if you forget. Therefore, we strongly recommend using “Mark as Final” option without any password. This option will allow you to mark the document as final version and prevent users from editing the content.
Word will show a notification on the top status bar indicating the document is marked as final. However, user can still click on the “Edit Anyway” button to edit the document.
The “Restrict Editing” option is useful when multiple authors are needed to update the same document. This will open the “Restrict Editing” pane on the document and allow you to setup formatting and editing restrictions. You can also restrict editing from the “Review” menu under “Protect” group.
Select the “Limit formatting to a selection of style:” checkbox and click on the “Settings…” link. It will open the “Formatting Restrictions” dialog box.
You can limit different styles by selecting the corresponding checkboxes including theme, Quick Style and Scheme switching. There is also an option for “Recommended Minimum” to limit the recommended options by Word.
You can enable the following editing restrictions from the dropdown after selecting the checkbox.
- Tracked changes
- Filling in forms
- No changes (Read only)
Choose the required option suitable for your document.
Exceptions and Enforcement
After setting up formatting and editing restrictions, you can select the content from the document and provide exception for editing to the available groups or users. This is suitable when multiple authors are working on a same document with different sections. Finally, click on the “Yes, Start Enforcing Protection” button to apply the restrictions.
Enter the password to enforce the protection. You can use “User authentication” if you have Information Rights Management installed with your Office package. It will allow the authenticated users to remove the protection and edit the content.
When user opens the restricted document, Word will show a sidebar pane indicating the available permissions.
In order to use this protection method also you need Information Rights Management. This will allow you to provide access to different users to view the document without editing permissions.
When you have a digital signature, you can use this option to insert on your document invisibly. When you insert the digital signature, Word will automatically mark the document as final. Any modification will delete the signature and you need to insert again. You can use the signature for approval purposes rather than protection of document.
Removing Password Protection
At any point of time, if you do not need password protect document, you can easily remove the password. However, the person who has setup the password can only do this.
- Open the document and enter the password to view the content.
- Go to “File > Info” menu and click on the “Protect Document” button.
- Select the option “Encrypt with Password” again.
- Now you can enter another password or completely remove the existing one. For this, simply delete the characters in the input box.
- Click the “OK” button.
- Do not forget to save so that the change becomes active.
Password Protect Word 2021 Document in Mac
Word for Mac (part of Office 2021) also allows you to setup password with limited options. Open your document and go to “Review > Protect” menu. Select, “Protect Document” option.
On the pop-up, you have the following options:
- Security – type the password to protect the entire document.
- Protection – protect document from tracked changes, comments, read only or forms. You can also optionally setup password for this protection.
- Privacy – remove personal information from the document.
When you open the password protect document, Word will prompt you to enter the password like below:
Similar to Windows, there are no ways to retrieve your password protected documents on Mac Word if you forget the password.