How To Password-Protect Documents On a Mac

You can easily create password-protected encrypted documents using apps like Pages, Numbers, Keynote and Microsoft Word. Youc an also create a password-protected PDF file from just about any app. There are good reasons to sometimes need encrypted documents, but often it isn't necessary.

Comments: 18 Responses to “How To Password-Protect Documents On a Mac”

    Rick
    2 weeks ago

    I use password protected documents and I wanted to find out how secure was
    the password encryption.

    The following list shows what I could determine when exporting.
    I hope this table is correct.

    Saved in Page/Numbers/Keynotes – 256-bit AES
    Exported to Office 97-2003 – 40-bit RC4?
    Exported to Office 2007-2015 – 128-bit AES
    Exported as PDF – 128-bit AES

    Mark
    2 weeks ago

    Can I export word, excel to keynotes and numbers? Then drop office? I never used them do I loose functionality

    pamela
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you for clarifying the issue about encryption vs password protection. Do I understand that pages and PDF’s are both encrypted and PW protected? Can I PW protect a specific folder and keep my sensitive documents there? If I PW protect a document and I use file vault is there an issue. If I PW protect a document and use file vault and then back up with backblaze and encrypt that with a PW is there a problem with data recovery? Some people said you get back gibberish

    2 weeks ago

    pamela: Yes, the things I am showing here are encryption techniques. Password-protecting a folder is not as easy. You can create an encrypted Disk Image, but that makes it difficult to access and make changes. Keep in mind that if you have a password on your account then pretty much everything is password-protected. Use FileVault and it is encrypted too. No problem using FileVault and BackBlaze — you are the one doing the backup, so you have permission to do it.

    2 weeks ago

    Mark: You can open Word documents in Pages (not Keynote) and Excel documents in Numbers. Try it. Pages and Numbers are different apps than Word and Excel though, with different features. So the conversion isn’t perfect. But for most basic documents it should work fine. Try it and see how it works for your documents.

    pamela
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you Gary, When you say password on my account, do you mean the password I use to open the computer? That is just a PW right? It doesn’t encrypt the computer. I am not currently using file vault because my mac is really old and I was told that it would slow it down too much. It is a late 2013, 2.7 ghz intel core i5 processor running high sierra. Do you think I could use file vault? I will get a new mac this year.

    2 weeks ago

    pamela: Yes, your Mac account password. It doesn’t encrypt your account’s files, unless you are using FileVault, in which case it very much does. Even without FileVault, access would be only possible with physical access to your Mac. Is this kind of security breach really an issue for you? If not, then don’t worry too much.

    pamela
    2 weeks ago

    Yes, it could be with housesitters, people working, other things. I had completely identity theft from a housecleaner years ago and I have never forgotten it. Do you think file vault would slow down my old computer? Would backblaze?

    2 weeks ago

    pamela: FileVault may slow down such an old Mac, yes. Maybe not enough to notice. Hard for me to say. BackBlaze is an online backup solution, so I’m not sure what you are asking there. Keep in mind that it still wouldn’t be easy to get into your Mac if you have a good password on it, even without FileVault. Usually your drive would need to be removed or another computer brought in to access the drive.

    pamela
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you Gary! This next question might sound a little crazy – Is there a way for someone to remotely access my computer and see sensitive documents? For example my taxes are stored on my computer. If I have entered the account number and the computer is on for several hours, can someone “get in” and see things on the computer…assuming I have not clicked on links I should not have?

    2 weeks ago

    Pamela: Not really no. Do you have File Sharing turned on? If you don’t need it turn it off. Same with other sharing options. Most people don’t need those. But even with them on, a password is still needed and you would have had to set things up on your Internet router, so you are pretty well protected. Just don’t install anything from a site you don’t trust, or stick to the Mac App Store so you don’t get any malware.

    pamela
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you very much Gary. Sorry for asking again, but when you said a password is needed which password did you mean? – the router password? my computer password? I tend to turn on the computer and open it in the morning and then it is on and open most of the day, so I think that means someone would not need my account pw to access the computer? Am I relying then on the router pw? or that I have protected all those documents individually with passwords?

    2 weeks ago

    pamela: That would be the password to your Mac account. But you should definitely have a good strong password on your router too! That won’t allow someone to access your Mac, but you don’t want anyone accessing your router or anything you own. And BTW, you don’t need to shut down your computer at night. Let it sleep. See https://macmost.com/a-beginners-guide-to-whether-to-shut-down-or-sleep-your-mac.html

    pamela
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you Gary, I have seen your “let it sleep” video…I’ve seen a lot of your videos 😊 and I am learning a lot. To the discussion we are having – then my computer is vulnerable during the day when I have opened it with my pw? Or does that come down to the router then? Someone would have to get through the router to access my computer remotely and a good pw would stop that?

    2 weeks ago

    pamela: No, your computer isn’t more vulnerable when you “have it open.” That’s just for you to use your computer. IF someone wanted to get access from outside, and IF you had sharing enabled, and IF you had your Internet router set up for outside sharing, then someone would need to know the location of your Mac (IP address) AND your password to get in.

    pamela
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you.

    Rich
    2 weeks ago

    Gary I have a PW to open my Air. If I activate File Vault should I also use a VPN?

    I forgot the PW to my older Mac went into Terminal and changed the PW. If I PW a document, can the PW be changed the same way?

    Thanks

    2 weeks ago

    Rich: To very different things. VPN is for protecting yourself against untrusted Wi-Fi networks, mostly. If you use your Mac only from trusted networks (home, work, etc) you don’t need it. As for changing the password of a document, that can’t be done. The document is encrypted with the password as the key. You can’t break that encryption. If you could, it would be worthless.

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