How to encrypt a Microsoft Word document by locking it with a password

How to encrypt a Microsoft Word document by locking it with a password
You can encrypt Microsoft Word documents by giving them a password.Alys Tomlinson/Getty Images
  • You can encrypt a Microsoft Word document on your Mac or Windows PC in a few easy steps.
  • Encrypting your Word document will require anyone opening it to enter a password.
  • Be sure to remember the password, as Microsoft Word doesn't have a "Forgot My Password" option.

If you've ever worked in a job that required typing, there's a good chance that you've used Microsoft Word. And depending on your job, you might have to use Word to create documents that need to stay private - documents legally protected by laws like HIPAA or FERPA, for example.

One way you can protect your files and yourself is to encrypt any Microsoft Word documents that contain privileged information. Word's encryption feature makes it so that anyone who opens the document will have to enter a password before they can view it.

Although it might sound complicated, the truth is that encrypting your Word documents is incredibly easy on both PC and Mac computers. Here's how to do it.
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How to encrypt a Microsoft Word document on a Windows PC

1. Open the document you'd like to encrypt in Microsoft Word on your PC.

2. Select "File" in the top-left corner, and then "Info."

3. Tap "Protect Document," and from the drop-down menu select "Encrypt with Password."
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How to encrypt a Microsoft Word document by locking it with a password
You can also implement other restrictions on your Word document, like the types of changes others are allowed to make.Emma Witman/Business Insider

4. Enter a password and press "OK." There are no requirements, so the password can be whatever you like - but just note that if you forget the password, there's no way to recover it. Be sure to write the password down somewhere, or you risk losing your work.

How to encrypt a Microsoft Word document by locking it with a password
The password can be as long or as short as you'd like - just make sure above all that you can remember it.Emma Witman/Business Insider
5. Confirm your password by entering it again, select "OK" to finalize it, and then save your document. You're all set. You'll be prompted to enter the password next time you open the document, and anyone you send it to will have to enter the password too.
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How to encrypt a Microsoft Word document by locking it with a password
You'll be prompted to enter the password upon opening the document next time.Emma Witman/Business Insider

How to encrypt a Microsoft Word document on a Mac

1. Open the document you want to encrypt in Microsoft Word for Mac.

2. Select the "Review" toolbar from the top menu, and select "Protect," then "Protect Document."

How to encrypt a Microsoft Word document by locking it with a password
The steps to encrypt a document are slightly different on Word for Mac, but the outcome will be the same.Emma Witman/Business Insider
3. Enter a password of your choosing, confirm the password, and click "OK." There aren't any restrictions on what your password can be, but be sure to remember it, as there's no way to recover the password if you forget it.
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How to encrypt a Microsoft Word document by locking it with a password
Make sure you can remember your password, as you won't have a way to recover it.Emma Witman/Business Insider

4. Save your document.

Now, anyone who tries to open the document in the future - including you - will have to enter the password to see it.

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