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How to Password Protect PDF with Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat

Do you have important PDF documents that need to be protected from unauthorized access? PDF format remains the most effective way to create and share PDF documents. Yet, sometimes it is necessary to ensure that the PDF documents you create do not fall into the wrong hands. The best way to do that is to password-protect the PDF document.

Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat, the most popular PDF tools in the market can help you protect PDF documents in this way. This article looks at how you can password-protect a PDF with and without Adobe Acrobat.

Can You Password-Protect PDFs with Acrobat Reader for Free?


There is no way to password-protect a PDF document for free in Adobe Reader. This is because Adobe Reader doesn't have a password protection feature. To encrypt the PDF using a password, you will need to purchase the Pro version of Adobe Reader.

However, it is costly to upgrade to the Pro version. So, how can you add password protection to your PDF for free? Is there any alternative way? The answer is yes. In the following two sections, we'll introduce you two practical ways to password protect PDFs.

Part 2. How to Password Protect PDF for Free Without Acrobat

As we've mentioned in the previous part, Adobe Reader does not provide an option to password-protect PDFs. And if you don't have access to Adobe Acrobat, UPDF is a good alternative. This software has numerous features to help you manage PDFs in all ways, including password protection for documents with open passwords or permissions passwords, checking the security of your documents, editing, annotating, OCR, summarizing, etc. Try this PDF password protector now by downloading it.

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adobe encrypt pdf alternative updf

Password protecting a PDF document using UPDF is very easy, and just use these simple steps:

Step 1: Open UPDF on your computer and then open the PDF document that you want to password-protect by clicking the "Open File" button.

Step 2: With the document opened, click on the "Protect Using Password" icon on the right toolbar.

password protect pdf without acrobat with protect feature

Step 3: To add an Open Password to the PDF, select the "Document Open" option in the popup that appears.

click document open icon adobe acrobat password protect

Step 4: If you want to add a permissions password that will restrict editing, choose the "Permissions" option in the popup.

add permission adobe password protect

The Permissions Password restricts various functions including printing, editing, and copying by default. If you would like to customize this option, click on "More Options" to add more restrictions or even set permissions for editing, printing, and copying separately.

In addition to the password protection feature, UPDF offers a range of other valuable functions for enhanced PDF management. Here are some of the key features you can access with UPDF:

  • It is one of the best PDF readers in the market with intuitive navigation tools and annotation tools including text boxes, shapes, and highlighters.
  • It offers many different editing tools to edit the text, images, links, font, font color, font size, and background in the PDF.
  • It supports creating, filling, and signing PDF forms digitally.
  • With the accurate OCR feature, you can turn the scanned PDFs into editable format.
  • It is also a good way to organize the pages on any PDF document, allowing you to reorder, replace, rotate, delete, and even add new PDF pages to the PDF document.
  • It converts PDF to other formats, such as Word, Excel, PPT, HTML, XML, Image, etc.
  • It has a UPDF AI feature to help you analyze, summarize, translate, explain, and rewrite your PDF easily.

After learning about UPDF's key features, why not give it a try? Download and test out the features now!

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How to Password Protect PDF with Acrobat Online Tool for Free

You can also use the free Adobe online tool to add a password to your PDF document. Here's how it works:

Step 1: Go to the Acrobat online protection tool on any browser to access the password protection tool you need.

Step 2: Click "Select a File" to import the PDF file you want to protect.

adobe encrypt pdf

Step 3: On the next screen, set a password to protect the PDF. Enter the password again to confirm and then click "Set Password.

Step 4: You can then click on "Download" to get the password-protected PDF on your computer.


  • Unlike UPDF, it solely offers the capability to add a password to a PDF, without the ability to remove an added password.
  • Unlike UPDF, it offers only the option to add a viewing password, without the ability to include additional permissions such as editing or printing.

How to Password Protect a PDF with Adobe Acrobat

In addition to the two free methods mentioned above, there is a paid option to apply password protection to PDFs using Adobe Acrobat. Follow these steps to utilize this method:

Step 1: Open the PDF file that you want to protect in Acrobat. With the document open, choose "Tools > Protect." And then choose "Protect Using Password".

how to password protect a pdf in adobe reader free

Step 2: Choose if you want to simply restrict editing with a password or if you would like to encrypt the entire file with a password or viewing.

how to password protect a pdf in adobe reader

Step 3: Set the password you would like to use as desired.

Step 4: Click "Apply" to save the changes made to the document.

FAQs on How to Password Protect PDF with Adobe

Are Adobe PDF passwords secure?

If you are using Adobe 7.0 and later, you get the AES encryption algorithm with a 128-bit key, and Adobe X or later will encrypt the document with a 256-bit key. This is one of the strongest forms of encryption meaning that anyone without the password that you used to secure the document will not be able to access the document.

What version of Adobe do I need to encrypt a PDF document?

To password-protect your PDF documents, you will need Adobe Reader Pro or Adobe Acrobat. The free version of Adobe Reader does not have the necessary features to encrypt a PDF document.

Why should I encrypt my PDF document?

Encrypting a PDF is one of the best ways to protect the content on your PDF document from unauthorized access. Both Adobe Acrobat and UPDF will also allow you to set a password that restricts the editing, copying, or printing of the document, which can be useful if you want someone else to read the content but don't want them to make any changes to the document.

Can an encrypted PDF be hacked?

Studies have shown that sophisticated hackers may still be able to access the document and the data on it even if it is password protected. You can however protect the document and other files by ensuring that you always have antivirus protection for all your devices.


Whether free or paid, you'll find methods for adding password protection to PDFs with or without Adobe in this article. For a quick, all-in-one PDF management solution, UPDF is your answer.

Feel free to try UPDF for free before making your final decision. Click the button below to install this amazing tool instantly.

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