How to Password-protect a PDF file on iPhone in 2021

Released to the public in September 2021, iOS 15 brings with it a ton of new features for iPhone users to make life easier personally and professionally. To make your productivity better than ever, Apple introduced new features like printing documents to PDF, drag-and-drop functionality, editing PDF’s directly using Files. Another new feature that may have gone unnoticed is the ability to lock sensitive PDF documents with a password. In this post, we’ll help you set up a lock on a PDF file on iOS 15. 

How to lock a PDF file with a password

Required: Make sure you have updated your iPhone to iOS 15.

If you wish to lock a PDF file available locally on your iPhone, first open the Files app, and browse the PDF file that you wish to lock from under Browse > On My iPhone. 

Note: PDF files stored on your iCloud Drive cannot be locked on iOS 15, only locally saved files can be password-protected. 

Once you file the PDF file you want to lock, open it by tapping on its thumbnail. 

When the file loads up, tap on the Share icon at the bottom left corner of the screen. 

This will bring up the Share Sheet. Expand this sheet by swiping up on it and then select the ‘Lock PDF’ option from here.

On the next screen, you will be asked to set a password for the file. Type your desired password inside the ‘Password’ and ‘Verify’ boxes and then tap on ‘Done’ at the top right corner.

Your file will now be locked and password protected.

How to open a locked PDF

You can also access locked PDF files the same way you’d open any other file on the Files app. To open a locked PDF, open the Files app and tap on the PDF file’s thumbnail (marked with a lock icon) on the screen.

When you do that, the screen will read “This document is password protected”. To access this file, tap on the text section under this message, start typing the password you previously set for the file, and then press the ‘Go’ key on your keyboard. 

The locked PDF file will now open and you can execute different operations on it. 

Can you unlock locked PDFs using the Files app?

No. We checked the Files app for an option to unlock already locked PDF files on iOS 15 but there’s no such option available yet. What this means is that PDF files you lock using the Files app on your iPhone will remain locked forever and you won’t be able to unlock it from the Files app, not for now at least. Locked PDF files can only be accessed after you input the password you set for it and you would need to enter that every time you open the file on iOS. 

Why can’t I lock a PDF on Files?

Locking a PDF file on iOS 15 is a relatively say affair but if you’re not able to access this feature, here are some reasons why:

  • You’re trying to lock a PDF that’s on your iCloud Drive. iOS only allows you to lock PDFs that are available locally on your iPhone and not the ones uploaded to your iCloud account. So make sure that you’re only selecting files from your local storage. 
  • Your iPhone isn’t running iOS 15: In order to use the ‘Lock PDF’ option, you need to install the latest version of iOS 15 on your iPhone since this is an iOS 15 exclusive feature. 
  • The file is already locked: If you’ve locked a PDF file in the past, you won’t find the ‘Lock PDF’ option when accessing its Share sheet. 

That’s all you need to know about locking a PDF file on iOS 15.


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