If you use Microsoft Word you can easily protect a document — but don’t lose the password! [First published April 2005.]
One way you can share information with members of your group is to send out Microsoft Word documents. You can also add them to your web site and allow your members to download them.
This is suitable for documents the public can or should read, such as Conference proceedings, for example.
It’s very useful to distribute documents via a Web site; it’s much more efficient than emailing. But there are problems.
If your documents contain confidential information, including people’s home phone numbers, for example, then you may rightly hesitate to put them on a web site where anyone can download them.
One answer is to set up a secure section of the Web site which needs a password to enter. But there is an easier way. Anyone with a reasonably recent version of Microsoft Word can simply lock an individual document with a password.
If you do this, anyone who downloads your document needs the password to open it. You tell the password to those who need it by phone, or at a meeting, or even in an email.
It is very easy.
Create your Microsoft Word document and save it in the normal way. Now save a protected copy which will be added to the Web site:
- On the File menu, click Save As.
- Click Options, and then click Security.
- In the Password to open box, type a password, and then click OK.
- In the Confirm Password box, type the passwordagain, and then click OK.
- Click Save.
Note the warning you see: don’t lose the password. If you don’t know the password you’ll be unable to open your document. That’s one reason it’s a good idea to keep a backup copy of the unprotected document.
Update, February 2008: there are other excellent options available these days such as using Google Docs or Basecamp for sharing documents with a restricted group. This article still stands though, for its passwording information.
Written for and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, April 2005.