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Password Protecting a Document

Guest Author - Chris Curtis


You are working on a document that you want to keep private or confidential. How can you protect your document from prying eyes? Some of the Microsoft Office programs allow you to set a password protection option during the save routine. After setting the option, the file cannot be opened without supplying a password. Word, Excel and Project all have this feature; PowerPoint and Visio do not.

The concept is the same whether you are using Office 97 or Office 2000; however, the steps that you take are slightly different depending on which version of the program you are using. This article will describe both.

Recognize that there are Password busting utilities out there and there people who are malicious enough to want to break your password, so you are not 100% protected. You need to understand, however, that if you do password protect your document and cannot remember the password you choose (or you’ve mistyped something), you will not be able to retrieve your file. Microsoft does not track the passwords you set, nor are your passwords stored automatically on your system. Prudent practice is to store an unprotected copy of the file in a safe location along with the password that has been set. Remember, each time you edit your file you will need to update your unprotected copy.

Excel and Word 97

• Choose File/SaveAs from the menu
• Click on the Options button in the SaveAs dialog box
• Establish a password to open. Keep in mind that passwords ARE case sensitive.
• Establish a password to modify, if you choose
• Click on OK
• Confirm the Password
• Click on OK
• Save and close your file

The Options dialog box for Word has some additional options you can choose that are not available in the Excel options dialog box. The file sharing Password fields are at the bottom of the Word options dialog box.

After setting the passwords, the next time you open your file, you will be prompted to supply the password. If you also chose to establish a password to modify, you will be prompted for that password as well.

Excel and Word (2000 & XP)
The major difference in Office 2000 and Office XP is the location of the option to set the passwords. The Options button is no longer available. Instead, you select General Options from the Tool’s dropdown box on the tool bar. The Options dialog box will open. Setting the password is the same as Office 97 in the Options dialog box.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Chris Curtis. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Chris Curtis. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Laura Nunn for details.

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