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Encrypting Office Documents

Follow the steps below to learn how to encrypt your office documents!

Step 1: Prepare to encrypt document

To encrypt a file with password protection in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, click the Microsoft Office button at the top-left corner of the Office program window. Select Prepare and then Encrypt Document.

Screenshot for Step 1

Step 2: Create a password

Enter a strong password (at least eight characters, containing upper and lowercase alpha characters, numbers, and symbols) into the Password field, and then retype the password when prompted.

  • Make sure it is a password you will remember. The document will be unrecoverable if you cannot remember the password.
  • If you are going to share the file, don’t select your CLS password or any other password that you use for other systems; You don’t want to have to tell someone your CLS password so that they can open the file you sent them.
Screenshot for Step 2

Step 3: Save and open the file

Save the file in the Office 2007 format (.docx, .xlsx, or .pptx). While there is an option to save the file in the Office 97-2003 format (.doc, .xls, or .ppt), the encryption in that format is weak. The Office 2007 uses AES encryption, which is the current standard of the U.S. government.

Now when you or anyone else tries to open the document, a dialog box will open, prompting for the password.

Screenshot for Step 3

Changing the password

To change the file encryption password, called the password to open in Office 2007, use the Tools in the Save As dialog box. Click the Office Logo button and select Save As. Then, in the Save As dialog box, click the file or enter its name in the "File name" field, click the down arrow beside Tools, and select General Options.

Change Encryption Password Screenshot

In the General Options dialog box, you can type a new password to open (the file encryption password) You’ll notice an option to set two passwords: one to encrypt and another to modify. Note that entering only a password to modify does not encrypt the document, it just prevents its modification by someone who wasn’t given the permission (i.e. the password) to do so.

Change Encryption Password Screenshot 2