How To Encrypt Word Documents on Mac
What does encryption mean? Why would you want to encrypt a document? Encryption as it implies to a document is basically the same thing when applied to a device or anything else. Encryption is basically encoding a message or information so only authorized people can access it.
Encryption doesn’t necessarily stop interference but it does prevent retrieval of the content in such a way that the person accessing it cannot use it. There are several ways encryption works. We’ll take a deeper dive into how to encrypt as we go through this post, but in simple terms, think of it as coding a document in such a way that only someone (or a machine) with the code can translate it.
Encryption is used to protect documents from prying eyes or to prevent people from accessing whatever it is the encryptor wants to protect. The focus here is how to encrypt Word documents on Mac. While we are talking specifically about Mac, the process will be similar for encrypting Word on a PC.
Symmetric vs. Asymmetric Encryption
Symmetric Encryption: Symmetric encryption uses a single key to encrypt as well as decrypt data. The key needs to be shared with all authorized people.
Asymmetric Encryption: This can be known as public key cryptography too. Asymmetric encryption uses two separate keys. One is public and one is private. The public key is used to encrypt the data and the private key helps decrypt it.
There are four types of encryption. These are:
- Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
- Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA)
- Triple Data Encryption Standard (TripleDES)
With Microsoft 365 (and Office), your data is encrypted at rest and in transit via many different powerful encryption protocols and technologies, including Transport Layer Security/Secure Sockets Layer (TLS/SSL), Internet Protocol Security (IPSec), and the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
Now, only geeks really care about this stuff. From reading it, you can obviously tell it is pretty complicated stuff the average (or even above-average) user will want no part of, right? You just want to keep your documents from prying eyes. You don’t want to know how it is accomplished, you just want to be able to do it easily.
You will never need to know all of these details about the various encryption methods when you want to know how to encrypt Word documents on Mac. In fact, it’s easy to do. Your Word for Mac documents can be password protected and encrypted for sharing easily.
How Does Encryption Apply to Word Documents?
You may want to encrypt a Word document because you want to keep the contents of the document away from others. Maybe you only want a specific person to see the document, maybe you don’t want anyone to see it.
The good news is, once you password protect and encrypt your Word document, only those who have the password to access the document will be able to open and view it. More good news; you don’t need to know anything special about encryption to be able to encrypt a Word document on Mac. That can all be done without you knowing a single thing about what happens to the Word document once you apply encryption.
How to Password Protect a Word Document on Mac
There are two ways to protect a Word document in Mac. One is to password protect the document. Password protection and encryption are two different things in Word. Both will protect your document, but encryption is a bit more security. Here’s how you can password protect a document in Word. For most users, password protection is enough.
- Click Review > Protect Document.
- Under the Security option, select if you want to enter a password to open the document, modify the document, or both. Enter your password to confirm the choices.
- Click OK to finish.
Remember: Passwords are case-sensitive and can only be a maximum of 15 characters long. Also, write your password down somewhere because if you lose it, Word will not be able to recover it and you will lose access to your document.
You can also password protect your document and still send it out for review, allowing the person you send the document to access to only certain features by choosing from the following during the password protection process:
- Keep Tracked Changes on: Click Tracked changes
- Allow people to add comments: Click Comments
- Prevent people from making changes: Click Read-only
- Restrict changes to forms: Click Forms
Type a password to prevent people from making changes to settings. You can also remove personal information like name and company when you save a file. To do this, under Privacy at the bottom of the Password Protect dialog box, select Remove personal information from this file on save.
How to Encrypt a Word Document on Mac
Now, what about encryption? How do you encrypt a document in Word for Mac? The encryption process is basically the same as password protection. That’s because when you password protects a file in Word, you are encrypting it. Here’s how to encrypt a Word document in Word for Mac:
- Open the document to encrypt. Use the Word tab and select Preferences.
- From the "Word Preferences" dialogue box, click the Security icon located under the "Personal Settings" options.
- From the "Security" dialogue box you will enter a password in the "password to open:" field, then you will click on OK.
- When you are prompted to confirm your password, you will enter it again and click on OK to accept.
Third-Party Encryption Software
Now, if you feel you need further protection than what you get with standard password protection and encryption, you can use third-party tools like Hidata to not only encrypt files on Word for Mac but to hide those files as well.
It works not only with Word documents, but it will encrypt and hide images and sound files as well. You will have to install the third-party software to do this, whether you use Hidata or any other encryption tool. A search for encryption tools will lead you to many options. They all work basically the same way.
You install the software and run it according to the steps the software tells you. With Hidata, you can hide documents and folders as well as encrypt. Why would you want to do this? Well, some people might feel the need to use more encryption and tactics such as hiding documents because they have something they really don’t want to be found. For most users, this is just not necessary. The normal password protection process is more than ample protection to keep people from reading your documents. Without a password, no one will be able to access your documents.