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Password Protecting
a Document

A reader asked if there is a way to password-protect personal documents without buying an expensive encryption program. Well, Microsoft Word and Excel have password options.

Within a pre-2007 version of Word or Excel, click File>Save As, and then click Tools>General Options, where you'll find a box for entering a password to open the document in the future, along with a second password option which would be needed to modify the file.

In Word or Excel 2007 and later, click on the Microsoft Office button, followed by clicking on Prepare and then on Encrypt Document.


If the purpose of these passwords is to keep a document from prying eyes, you might consider disguising the document's file type by deleting its 3-letter extension. Removing .doc from an MSWord filename, for instance, changes its familiar "Blue W" icon into a generic one which tends to conceal the file's program of origin.

A filename thus altered, when double-clicked, will normally generate an error message asking what program should be used to open it. An MSWord file, oddly enough, will still open in its usual way. In fact, you can create your own extensions for Word or Excel files, and they will still open normally.

An exception to the rule would be changing .doc to .txt, since .txt is a universal extension that can be used temporarily to make nearly any file partially legible.




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