How to send a password-protected document via email

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How to send a password-protected document via email
Safeguard your private information before sending it by e-mail. (computer screen with padlock image by patrimonio designs from

Sending a password-protected document to someone by e-mail takes some forethought and planning. A password-enabled document should be the first step among many for total security. Send sensitive data to people whom you trust with the information, or to those who "need to know." Choose the recipient wisely, as someone you know will safeguard the data and pass it on only to those who require it. Integrate these steps as part of your routine for limiting access to your private information.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • PC with e-mail
  • Word or Excel 2003 or above

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  1. 1

    Write a new document containing your private information in a Word or Excel file. Alternatively, copy and paste the information into the document. Copy and paste by highlighting the text in your original document, then clicking "Edit" in the main menu, followed by "Copy." In the new document, use the mouse to put the cursor where you want the text to appear, click "Edit," and then "Paste."

  2. 2

    Save the document you intend to send by e-mail by clicking "File" in the main menu and choosing "Save As." A dialogue box will appear where you can give the file a name. Type in a name and add the recipient's initials so you can easily identify the password-protected file later.

  3. 3

    Secure the file by clicking "Tools" in the main menu, then "Options," and clicking the "Security" tab. In the "Password To Open" box, type in a password, then type it in again in the second box to verify. The best passwords are at least eight characters long and use a combination of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers and symbols, which you can add by shifting one of the numbers from the number row on your keyboard.

  4. 4

    Write an e-mail to the recipient and attach the document containing the sensitive information. Inform the recipient that the document is password-protected and that you will provide the password. Do not write the password in the same e-mail containing the password-protected document. Call the recipient to provide a password if you have a telephone number, or send a separate e-mail containing the password. Do not specify how you will contact the recipient, and leave the subject line blank if you send a password via e-mail.

  5. 5

    Delete password-protected documents from your computer when you are sure the proper recipient has received her copy. If the recipient needs to make changes or modify the password-protected document, you will need to provide instructions for removing the password; refer to step three.

Tips and warnings

  • For an extra measure of security, you can compress your password-encrypted document in a WinRAR or WinZip file, both of which can also be password-protected, and send it via e-mail. Consult the WinRAR or WinZip help file for more information.

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