Office XP Tips: Password-Protect PowerPoint PresentationsAdd passwords to PowerPoint 2002 to protect your work and your data.
Crafting a PowerPoint presentation can be a creative--and painful--endeavor. And once you've created your masterpiece, the last thing you want is some schmoe tinkering with it. PowerPoint 2002 offers a welcome addition to the software: password protection. You have the option of requiring a password for others to make changes or to open a presentation at all. The latter option can be useful if your presentation contains sensitive information such as payroll data, your business strategy, or the true nature of your kryptonite allergy.
Choosing a Password
Before you create a password, it's a good idea to give it some thought. You want something that you can remember, but that others can't figure out. A good password is one containing both letters and numbers. Also, keep in mind that passwords are case sensitive, so 178Boogers isn't the same as 178boogers. Just make sure you remember it! If you forget the password, you're hosed. Even the almighty and all-powerful Microsoft claims it can't help you open or modify a presentation if you don't remember the password. In fact, it might be a good idea to noodle around with this on some test presentations before you actually password-protect an important one. (Not that your humble reporter actually speaks from experience, mind you. Ahem.)
Protecting the Presentation
To establish a password, open your presentation, choose Tools, Options, and click the Security tab. You'll notice two password options in this dialog box: "Password to open" and "Password to modify." If you simply want to prohibit others from making unauthorized changes to your presentation, select "Password to modify." If you want to prohibit others from opening your presentation at all without a password, choose "Password to open." Then type your password in the appropriate text box and click OK. Once you do, PowerPoint presents the Confirm Password dialog box, which asks you to confirm your password and sternly warns you that losing your password will be a big bummer. Retype your password and click OK to return to your presentation.
For your changes to take effect, you must save and close your presentation. The next time anyone tries to open it, they'll get a prompt to enter the password. If you chose "Password to open," PowerPoint will not open the presentation at all without the proper password. If you chose "Password to modify," PowerPoint will prompt the user to "Enter password to modify, or open read only." The user can then enter the password and click OK to open the file or click "read only" to open a file that they can read but not edit.
Some Words of Warning
There are a few instances when password-protection might not work like you'd expect. First, if you save a presentation as a Web page, password protection will no longer work in the new HTML-formatted presentation. Instead, anyone who opens the Web page will be able to view the presentation. Also, because previous versions of PowerPoint did not include this feature, password-protected presentations will not open in PowerPoint versions 95 through 2000, even if the user knows the password. So if you want to share a presentation with someone using an older version of the program, you'll have to remove password protection first.
Removing a Password
To remove password protection, choose Tools, Options, and click the Security tab. Then remove the asterisks that appear in the "Password to open" or "Password to modify" text box and click OK. Save and close the presentation to complete the job. Of course, if someone views your presentation in "read only" mode, the password options in the Options dialog box are unavailable.
Getting Serious About Security
If you want to get really, really secure, you can encrypt your password using a string of characters as long as 255 characters, depending upon the encryption algorithms available on your system. For example, your password could be "This is one doggone secure presentation," or 1j2j2j1k2l3kj;alskfjpwe8475p34nvweiovunwp457qp83cmpaio;345cmqpa;vyngfha.
Just type (or paste) the password you want in the "Password to open" or "Password to modify" text box. If you're picky about your encryption, click Advanced and choose an encryption type and a key length, and click OK.
You'll notice a few other security options sprinkled around the Security tab of the Options dialog box. One is the Privacy Options check box. Click this box if you want to remove personal information from the presentation, such as the name of its author and anybody who added comments or made changes. There's also a link to the Macro Security dialog box, which allows you to set your macro security level. For more information on this option, check out the Office XP Tips newsletter about macro virus protection.
Finally, the Security tab also links to the Digital Signature dialog box, which lets you view or add a digital signature to a document. A digital signature is an electronic signature whose authenticity is guaranteed by an outside certification company or your company's IT department and which certifies you as the author of a file or macro. That, when combined with a buck fifty, will get you on the subway.