Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Sometimes we create documents that we need to keep private. Maybe they contain company secrets, or maybe they've got some embarrassing information we wouldn't want others to discover. Either way, we sometimes need to protect documents from prying eyes. Other times, we may need to create documents to share with others but we want to prevent others from modifying the document. So how can you protect your documents? Let me tell you about some of Word's security and document protection features. One way to protect the document is to password-protect it.
Word offers two kinds of password protection. Let's go to up underneath the Word menu and choose Preferences, or press Command+Comma, and then in here we want to click Security. The top two boxes here enable you to enter passwords for the document. You can use either of them or both of them. Password to open requires a password to open the file. If you type a password into this box, anyone who wants to open the file after it's saved must provide the password to open it.
I'll type one in here to try it out. I'm just going to type in test, so I don't forget it. The Password to modify box requires anyone who wants to make changes in the document to enter a password to make those changes. I'll type one in here too so we can try it out. I'll make sure it's different. I'll use test2. Now you don't have to use them both. You can use either one. I do recommend using different passwords if you do use both. Let's click OK.
Word wants us to confirm that we know the password to open the document. Now if you remember, that password was test. So I need to type that in. This warning in the box is very important by the way. It's telling you that if you lose or forget the password, you can't recover it. You'll be locked out of the file. So don't lose or forget the password. I'll click OK. Now it wants to know the password to modify it. If you recall, I put it test2. So I'll type that in. Again, you don't want to forget this password. I'll click OK.
Now the document doesn't look like anything is different about it. We're going to save the document, File > Save, or press Command+S. That saves those changes, those security changes to the document. Now we'll just close. I'll press Command+W to close it. Now I'm going to reopen that document, which is right here by double-clicking it. The first thing Word wants from me is the password to open the file. If I don't have the password, if I type in a wrong password, something like that, and click OK, it's going to tell me that the password is incorrect and Word can't open the document.
We'll need to click OK. Click OK again, and try again. So the password is test. I'll type that in. I'll click OK. Now it's telling me that the file is reserved by Maria Langer. That's me, because I'm the one who saved it with the password. I have a couple of different options here. I can either enter the correct password, or I can click the Read Only button, which will open this is as a read-only document. We'll talk about that a little bit later on, or I can just not open the document at all if I click Cancel.
Well, I'm going to type in that password, which was test2, and click OK. Now we've opened up the document, and we have full access to the document. We can edit it, make changes to it, save it, and do anything we like with it. Now to remove that password, you need to go back into the security preferences and delete the password. So let's do that. Go into the Word menu, choose Preferences or press Command+Comma, and then down here click Security. What I need to do to get rid of those passwords is just delete them from here.
So I've selected them and delete them. Now they're gone. Now there is another option here and that's the Read-only recommended checkbox. Let's see what that does. What I'll do is I'll turn it on. I'll click OK. Then I'll save the document. I'm just going to press Command+S. That'll save it. Then I'll close it Command+W. Now let's double-click the document to open it again. When you open the document, a dialog like this comes up and recommends that the document be opened as a read-only document.
If I click Yes, Word opens the document and up here in the title bar you can see that it says Read-Only. If I try to make changes to this document and save them, I pull down File menu, choose Save, it tells me that This file is read-only. So the only thing I can do here is I can save the document with a different name. If I click OK, it'll display the Save As dialog and then I can use that dialog to save the file. So in other words, I can't change the original file or at least I can't save changes to it.
But I can save changes with a different file name. The original file is left untouched, but I can make a copy with a different name. Now I don't want to do this. So I'm just going to click Cancel here. Let's close this document again and open it again. You'll see here that it really offers two options. When I clicked Yes, it opened it as a Read-only file. But this is just a recommendation. I can actually click No and the file opens without being read-only. You don't see that up there.
So now if I wanted to save the file, File > Save, it will let me save changes to the document. So the Read-only recommended checkbox is just a recommendation. Let's turn that off. I'll go into the Word menu, choose Preferences, click Security, and I'll turn that off. I want to make sure I save changes to this. So I'll click OK. File > Save. Save the document. Close it. Now when I reopen it, it shouldn't prompt me anymore.
So that option is turned off. Once again, this document is completely unsecured. Now let's look at the document protection options. These options also allow you to set a password, although you don't have to. Let's pull down the Word menu, choose Preferences, and Security. If I click Protect Document here, it offers four different options to protect the document. Track changes works with Word's Track Changes feature. As we saw in another video, that's an editing feature that keeps track of changes made to a document, so they can be later accepted or rejected by a decision maker.
Comments works with Word's Commenting feature. That enables document readers to enter comments in the document. We saw that in our earlier video too. Forms works with Word's Form feature. That allows a Word document to be used as a fillable form. Then Read-only prevents any changes to the document. The Password field is optional. If you don't provide one, anyone who can come back into Security preferences, and unprotect the document. So let's give this a try. We'll choose Comments.
So we'll protect it for comments. That means that after we save this document, the only thing someone can do with it is make comments on it. We'll skip the password. I'll click OK. Then I'll click OK to dismiss this dialog. Remember in order to save changes to the document we have to actually save the documents. So I'll just press Command+S. That'll save the changes. Then I'll close the document and reopen it. At first, it seems like nothing has really happened. But if I try to make changes to this document, for example maybe I want to insert a paragraph right in front of this.
I put my insertion point in front of this first paragraph. If I press Return, I'm not getting a new line. If you look down at the bottom of the screen in the status bar area right down here, you'll see that it says, this command is not available because the document is locked for edit. If I start pulling down menus, you'll see that a lot of options are gray. Now one option I could pick from the Insert menu is New Comment. If I select that, at the insertion point of the closest word it puts in a comment box.
Then I can type in a comment here on the side. Again, we covered commenting in another video. Of course, we can always turn this option off, because if you remember, we didn't put a password on it. So if I go into the Word menu, choose Preferences, and then click Security, I can click Unprotect Document. It turns off the document protection. Now, if I click OK and then click somewhere in the document, I can start making changes again. So if you're serious about protecting the document against changes, maybe only allowing comments or revisions, things like that.
You really ought to use a password to protect it. Otherwise, anyone who has knowledge of Word can just turn that off. So that's a few ways you can protect the contents of your documents, either from unauthorized access or from changes. If you use a password, don't forget it, or you may lock yourself out of your own document.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
82 Video lessons · 97931 Viewers
80 Video lessons · 141222 Viewers
59 Video lessons · 59578 Viewers
52 Video lessons · 72846 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.