How to password protect a PDF file [Best Tools]

Radu Tyrsina
by Radu Tyrsina
CEO & Founder
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  • Most PDF handlers come with their own options for disabling functionalities such as copying or printing - but are they enough?
  • Explore three fine methods of protecting your PDF files from unauthorized access in our list below.
  • Enhance your PDF experience and take a closer look at our PDF section as well.
  • Check out our Encryption & Data Protection Hub for answers to all your security-related questions.
Best tools to password PDF files

Most PDF programs come with their own options for disabling functionalities such as copying or printing, or feature passwords to protect PDF documents and prevent unauthorized access.

While PDF cracking tools may disable protection, there are some tools that assure users that their methods will prevent copying after processing a PDF document.

Ready to discover the best password protect PDF file software tools? Our below list is precisely what you’re looking for.

What are the best tools to password protect a PDF file?

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Adobe Acrobat DC PRO

enjoy Adobe Acrobat DC PRO

Sensitive information requires enhanced protection and Acrobat DC delivers just that.

Its protection covers all fronts so that you can pick the weapon of choice that best fits your needs from password encryption to set up file permissions.

To prevent reviewers from copying, editing, or printing your PDFs, you can:

  • Secure the files from all your Office programs (prevent your PDF from being copied/modified by restricting editing in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint)
  • Add passwords (encrypt your PDF file with a certificate or password)
  • Publish Sensitive Information feature (redact, password protect a PDF, and save your file with edit and copy restrictions applied automatically)
  • Customize your protection (create custom security policies to apply PDF password protection and permissions the same way every time)

Adding passwords and permissions to PDF files is easy in Acrobat PRO. Simply follow the steps below:

  • Launch the Acrobat and open your PDF.
  • Go to the Tools menu and select Protect.
  • Choose your preferred protection: restrict editing with a password or encrypt the file with a certificate or password.
  • Set the security method.
  • Click Save to validate your actions.

⇒ Download Adobe Acrobat DC PRO

Icecream Password Manager

try out Icecream Password Manager

After taking into consideration the encryption settings that protect some of the most popular password managers, Icecream Password Manager also came up as a reliable choice.

Even if it’s free, rest assured that it easily matches the capabilities of other paid software solutions when it comes to protecting your private PDF files.

Besides that, it’s clear that you’re tired of having to remember dozens of passwords for all the accounts that you use daily.

Icecream Password Manager steps in as a first choice to keep in mind just one master password and get immediate access to all your sensitive data.

Here you’ll find some key features that Icecream Password Manager brings to the table:

  • Simple way to manage your passwords
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Form filler within a single click
  • Leading encryption standards
  • Plugins for Chrome and Firefox
  • Access for up to no less than ten users
Icecream Password Manager

Icecream Password Manager

Icecream Password is the best tool to protect sensitive PDF files and manage your passwords.
Get it free Visit website

PDF Anti-Copy

enjoy PDF Anti-Copy

You can stop users from copying PDF text with the help of the PDF Anti-Copy tool.

The program’s approach is quite unusual as it uses GhostScript and its –dNoOutputFonts switch to replace the text with vector graphics.

While the page will look the same, you will not be able to select text anymore. An important downside of the program is how exported documents are not searchable since its text is removed.

Another minus is its size at 4,377KB. On the other hand, the program is easy to use and its interface is quite simple.

After clicking the loading icon to prepare a PDF, the app will list all the pages of the document in its interface and you can apply copy protection to individual pages or to all of them at once.

Click Start Now after selecting the pages and the software will save a copy of the file to your destination folder.

Even if the program is not perfect, it will be useful to prevent users from copying parts of a document or at least make it more difficult for them to do so.

Download PDF Anti-Copy 

There you go, these are two fine methods of protecting your PDF files from unauthorized access. Of course, there are numerous other options available, both free and paid.

What is your favorite PDF protection tool? Share your experience with us in the comments section below.

FAQ: Learn more about PDF protection/conversion

  • How do I protect a PDF?

The best tools to password protect PDF files aren’t easy to find, so make a choice between Icecream Password Manager and Adobe Acrobat DC PRO.

  • How can I encrypt a PDF for free?

To encrypt a PDF for free, try using PDFelement, Foxit PDF Security Suite, or other great apps to easily secure PDF files.

  • How do I convert a PDF to a fillable PDF?

Open the PDF in Acrobat DC and go to the Tools menu -> Fill & Sign or Prepare Form tool. Also, refer to this list of tools to create editable PDF forms.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2017 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in May 2017 and was revamped and updated in October 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.