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[2021] How to Encrypt PDF files for Email – Ultimate Guide

Encrypting PDF before sending it as an attachment through email can add another layer of security to your attachment. Adding encryption means that the receiver will have to input a Password to open the PDF every time, thus keeping the PDF file secure.

[2021] How to Encrypt PDF files for Email - Ultimate Guide

Read this article where we teach you step-by-step on how to encrypt PDF files for email.

Why should you encrypt PDF files for email?

Through encryption and adding passwords to your PDF, you can make sure that the information in the PDF will only be visible to the people who have access to the password for that specific PDF.

You can limit access to the PDF, you can restrict access for editing tools for that PDF and you can restrict features like printing for the concerned PDF.

There are two types of PDF password encryption available:

  1. Document Open Password – This is also known as user password. This is the password that the user will require to open the PDF.
  2. Permission Password – This is also known as Master Password. This password is required to change permission settings, restrict printing, editing, and copying of content. You do not have to tell the receiver this password.

How can you encrypt PDF files for email?

For the purpose of protection and safety, using Acrobat Pro DC will enable you to encrypt the PDF.

This software will allow you to edit and protect your PDFs. Do keep in mind that you will have to pay for it, but you will be able to use it for a 7-day free trial.

How to Encrypt PDF files for Email – Step-by-step guide

Method 1: Add a Password to the PDF

Step 1: Open the PDF in Acrobat DC Reader.

Step 2: Once the PDF is opened, Click on Tools. And then Click on Protect.

Tools bar - Adobe Acrobat

Step 3: Click on Protect Using Password.   

Step 4: A pop-up menu will show up, select between the options for Viewing or Editing the PDF. If you choose Viewing, the recipient will have to input password for viewing the PDF and for Editing the recipient will have to input password for editing.

Password Menu - Acrobat Reader

Step 5: Type and Retype your password. Keep in mind the password strength. We recommend following the TRU Password Standards.

Step 6: Click on Apply. You will be displayed a confirmation message that the PDF has been successfully encrypted with a password.

If you want to deploy additional options to make the encryption even better, you should follow the steps given bellow:

Step 1: Follow the previous steps till Step 5. Once the Protect Using the password menu pop-up shows.

Password menu - Adobe Acrobat Reader

Step 2: Once the menu is opened, click on More options. If you receive a prompt, click Yes to change the security.

Step 3: Select Require A Password To Open The Document, this will prompt a password check to open the PDF. Keep a strong password as indicated from the strength meter.

Password for the document - Adobe Acrobat Reader

Step 4: You can also select Acrobat version compatibility so that older versions of the software will not be able to display the PDF. It also shows the various level of encryption available with each version.

Version compatibility - Adobe Acrobat Reader

Step 5: Select the Encryption options available:

  1. Encrypt All Document Contents: Encrypts the document and its metadata, making it inaccessible by the search engines.
  2. Encrypt All Document Contents: Encrypts the document and its metadata, making it inaccessible by the search engines.

Step 6: Click OK. At the prompt, confirm the password and retype the appropriate password in the box and click OK.

Method 2: Restricting Editing, Printing and Copying through Encryption

Step 1: Open the PDF in Acrobat Reader DC.

Step 2: Once the PDF is opened, Click on Tools. And then Click on Protect.

Home menu

Step 3: Click on Protect Using Password.

Step 4: Once the pop-up menu is open, click on More Options and then Advanced Password Protection.

Password menu - advanced options

Step 5: If you receive a security prompt, click on Yes.

Step 6: Select Restrict Editing and Printing of the Document. Type the password in the field.

Editing restrict access menu

Step 7: Select what the user can print from the Printing Allowed menu. You can choose:

  1. None to prevent printing.
  2. Low Resolution to allow printing at 150-DPI or lower.
  3. High Resolution to let users print at any resolution.

Step 8: Select what users can change in the PDF from the Changes Allowed Menu. You can choose:

  1. None to prevent all the changes listed in the menu.
  2. Inserting, Deleting and Rotating Pages: lets users insert, delete and rotate pages amongst other things.
  3. Commenting, Filling In Form Fields, And Signing Existing Signature Fields: Lets users add comments and digital signatures, and fill in forms
  4. Filling In Form Fields And Signing Existing Signature Fields: Lets users fill in forms and add digital signatures.
  5. Any Except Extracting Pages: Lets users edit the document, create and fill in form fields, and add comments and digital signatures.

Step 9: Select an acrobat version from the Compatibility menu. You can limit the version and see the encryption level used to encrypt PDF.

Compatibility menu

Step 10: Select the Encryption options available:

Encrypt All Document Contents: Encrypts the document and its metadata, making it inaccessible by the search engines.

Encrypt All Documents Contents Except Metadata: Encrypts the content of a document but will allow the search engines access the metadata.

Step 11: Click OK. At the prompt, confirm the password and retype the appropriate password in the box and click OK.

Suggested Read: How to turn Email into a PDF

Some things to keep in mind:

When you encrypt PDF with a password, keep in mind that the password cannot be recovered and then the contents of the PDF will be lost and cannot be recovered again.

Be sure to either note down the password somewhere, as you will have to share it to the individual.

Be sure to not tell the recipient the password through email on which the encrypted PDF is attached. You can call the recipient or text them the password.

FAQs on How to Encrypt PDF for Email:

Why should I encrypt PDF before sending it to anyone?

Encryption is a boon for everyone looking for privacy and security. If you encrypt PDF before sending, you can make sure that only the receiver can view the contents. You also restrict access towards editing and making changes inside the PDF.
Through encryption, you can make sure that the security aspect is protected.

Can I recover my password if I lose it?

You will not be able to recover the password of a encrypted PDF if you lose it. It is important that you save the password somewhere for future reference. Once the PDF is encrypted, you will not be able to restore the password anyhow.

Can I encrypt PDF through websites?

You will be able to encrypt the PDF, but how well it will be protected is up to chance. It is difficult to vouch for the encryption level of such websites. On the other hand, Adobe’s encryption is so common that its almost become the industry standard. This means that even if your recipient does not have Adobe software, he will still have to put the password to either view or make changes.

An engineer and a tech enthusiast, driven by curiosity.

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