Password protect a PDF document

Password protecting a PDF file helps you ensure that even if the document gets lost the content won't be available to anyone else unless you shared the password with them. novaPDF Professional is a program that allows you to password protect PDF documents when generating them (this option is not available in novaPDF Standard or Lite edition). You can download it from our Download page.

To password protect PDF documents with novaPDF Professional:

  • Open the document that you want to convert to PDF and password protect. Go to File->Print and in the Printers section select novaPDF Pro.
  • After novaPDF Pro is selected click on the Properties button (or Preferences) to open the novaPDF Pro Properties window.
  • Go to the Security tab and select either the Low Level or High Level Encryption method. You can setup a password for opening and/or modifying the PDF document by entering and confirming it in the User Password field (Owner Password lets you require a password when changing the security features of the PDF, not when opening it).
  • Press OK to save the printing preferences for novaPDF Pro and in the Print window of the program click OK to so that the creation of the PDF files starts (the PDF file will be displayed after it's created). Note that the password protection will be applied to further created PDF files too unless you deselect the PDF password protect options from the Security tab.

User password is for opening (and reading) the PDF file. If you define an user password before generating the PDF file, when someone will want to open the resulting PDF file it will have to enter the user password to open it. So only the ones that know this password can read/open the password protected PDF file.

Owner password is set for changing the rights of the PDF file. The owner password is not requested when opening the PDF file but it is requesting when you want to change something in the password protected PDF file that was restricted from modifying. 

Examples of using High Level Encryption to restrict PDF permissions:

  • If you want to disallow content copying from the PDF, you should make sure that the Extract text and Graphics and Advanced extract text and graphics options are unchecked. If these options are unchecked, when someone will try to copy text from the PDF to paste it elsewhere, it will not work.
  • If you want to disallow readers to print the password protected PDF document, you can do so by unchecking the Print Document option in the Document Permissions section. Additionally, you can allow printing only in low resolution (150 dpi), by checking the Print Document option but unchecking the Print high resolution one (allowing only low resolution printing also prevents users from using optical character recognition software to create a similar document).
  • If you want to disallow form filling, make sure the following options are unchecked: Modify Annotations, fill forms and Advanced form filling.
  • novapdf security tab

You can set additional document restrictions, and by default, when either Low Level encryption or High Level Encryption is selected, all the restrictions applicable for those options will be enforced.

The Low Level encryption method allows you to restrict access so that the user opening the password protected PDF will not be able to: Print document, Modify document content, Extract text and graphics, Modify annotations, Fill forms (the checkboxes beside these options are not checked by default, if you want to allow one of these options you'll have to check the option).

The High Level Encryption method, beside the restrictions of the Low Level Encryption method, allows you to restrict access so that the user opening the password protected PDF will not be able to Print high resolution, Assemble the document, Advanced extract text and graphics, Advanced fill forms.

Note that when using any of the two types of encryption that novaPDF supports, the resulting PDF files will have their contents encrypted (even if you don't set a password, but only select an encryption option) so search engines won't be able to index the contents of the PDF files (nor their metadata description). You can check to see if your PDF has the content encrypted in Adobe Reader, by pressing Ctrl+D and clicking on the Security tab. If the content is encrypted, you should see the following text under the Document Security section: All contents of the document are encrypted and search engines cannot access the document's metadata.

Video tutorial on how to convert password protect a PDF file:

This tutorial explained how to password protect PDF documents or apply other security restrictions, if you have any suggestions for improvement leave a comment or rate the article.


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