Using Mac OSX Preview To Password Protect Your Documents

Using Mac OSX Preview To Password Protect Your Documents

This tip comes from DocumentSnap reader A.S. (thanks!).

If you want to add a password to a PDF document, that functionality is built in to Mac OSX’s Preview application.

For Windows users, you can use a free program like PDFCreator to do something similar.

Here we go:

  • Load up your PDF in Preview
  • Go to File -> Print
  • Click on the PDF icon in the bottom left and choose Save To PDF


  • Hit the Security Options button


  • You now have options to set a password to open, set a password to be able to copy text (cool) and even set a password to be able to print

PDF Security Options.jpg

  • Now when you go to open the PDF, the user gets prompted for the password


Do you use any other methods to password protect or, even better, totally encrypt your PDFs before sending them to someone? Leave your strategies in the comments.

Also, if someone has a clever way to automate this process for a bunch of PDFs at once (using Automator or an Applescript?) that would be great too.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 10 comments

Nick - April 10, 2014 Reply

Excellent! Thanks!

Jeremy - July 24, 2013 Reply

Super tip. Exactly what I was looking for!

Trent - February 23, 2013 Reply

This is such a pain to do in Mountain Lion. In Snow Leopard, it was a simple step of "Save As" followed by password. In Mountain Lion, Apple seems to have removed the Save As option and having to do this workaround using the Print option.

Daine Vallar - June 22, 2012 Reply

Keep working, fantastic job!

Sara Leonard - February 20, 2012 Reply

if I upload this to our website, will it require a password still to open it?

    Brooks Duncan - February 20, 2012 Reply

    Once you give your PDF a password, it should require it everywhere. However, do a test to make sure.

Jeff - October 7, 2010 Reply

I protected my document from opening, copying and printing. When I tried to copy an image, however, the password window would not recognize my password. I re-created the document a second time, and again, I could open and view the document, but I could not print or copy, even after entering my password in the appropriate window. In that window, there is no "OK" button, either. You just enter the password and, I guess, hit the Enter key, but with no results.

    Jean-David - May 29, 2011 Reply

    This happened to me with the same password declared for both opening and printing, I had to go through the same steps, declared two different passwords and it works perfectly. Hope this helps

      Claire - April 4, 2013 Reply

      Thank you so much!

Vark391 - January 9, 2010 Reply

Great tip; but if I save this to my iDisc, then try to open on my iPhone, it's just blank!

Leave a Reply: