PowerPoint: Restrict Editing with a Password

You have probably password protected documents in Word or Excel. In Excel Advanced Formulas, we even talk about how you can protect individual cells from being altered, while leaving the rest open to changes. Microsoft does not make it as obvious in PowerPoint that password protection is a possibility is it does in its other programs… but you actually have several options, including the ability to restrict editing while still allowing users to view your presentation. Let’s take a look.

Password Screen

Exercise File

No Exercise File today! You can open up PowerPoint into any random template if you would like to follow along.

Be Cautious with Microsoft Passwords

The usual password disclaimer applies…

  • Be very careful applying passwords in any Microsoft program.
  • If you lose the password, neither Microsoft nor ITS can reset it for you (trust me, I have been there).
  • You may want to save an copy of your original file without a password for your personal use.

Password Protecting Documents in Word and Excel

Password protection in Word and Excel is fairly obvious; you even have a special button in the Review tab to guide you through Restrict Editing features or Protect Sheet/Workbook in the case of Excel.

Restrict editing button in Word

With both Word and Excel, there are also a variety of Protect Workbook features in backstage (File) view.

Excel: Protect Workbook dropdown

On the other hand… in PowerPoint, the protection features are absent in the Review tab, though there are a lot of the same options for encryption in backstage view as Word or Excel…

Powerpoint restrict access options, prompting users to Connect to Rights Management Servers

Encrypt with Password would require someone to have a password to open your document, but maybe you only want to restrict editing. This is where people become frustrated.

For many people, Restrict Access looks like the right place to go, but for many it directs them to Connect to Rights Management Servers, which errors out when selected. There is a better way to do this…

“Save As” Password Options

1. With your presentation open, go to File, Save As (or remember my favorite shortcut, F12).

2. In the lower right, click on Tools dropdown and select General Options.

Save as screen, tools dropdown

3. A screen will appear prompting you to either:

  • Require a password to Open, or
  • Require a password to Modify. Let’s stick with Modify for now.

4. Enter a password for Modify, and click OK. You may be prompted to reenter the password.

Password to Open or Modify Screen

5. Save and close your PowerPoint file. Open the file again, and you should be prompted to either enter a password, or open a read only version.

Prompt when opening document: enter password or open as a read only document

Your users will still be able to view and print the document, but they will not be able to make changes.

Remove the Password

Later, if you would like to remove the password:

1. Open the file, entering the password when prompted.

2. Revisit the Save As screen to find the Tools, General Options where you first set the password.

Save as screen, tools dropdown

3. Here you can remove the password you originally created and press OK

Password screen with current password and ok circled.


What do you think? Did you know about this feature in PowerPoint?

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit: wichita.edu/poweruser

  • Rosemary Hedrick
Rosemary Hedrick