4 Reasons Why You Can’t Password Protect a PDF

You have multiple ways to secure your PDF files online on WordPress sites. And password protection appears as one of the most effective methods.

You can prevent unwelcomed users from accessing your private files unless they have the correct passwords. There is no more worry about users downloading or taking screenshots of your PDF either.

PPWP Pro provides a great solution to encrypt your PDFs or any digital files with a simple shortcode. However, there may be times that your protected files are still visible to the public.

“Why can’t I password protect the PDF?” You might wonder this when accidentally finding your files appearing on search result pages or previewing the page with the protected file.

If you’re in this situation, be patient, since you’re in the right place! Our article today will explain to you 4 causes that your private PDF files are not locked as well as how to fix them.

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We’ll also guide you through how to remove passwords from PDF files, in case you want to show them to the public again.

Why You Can’t Password Protect a PDF and How to Fix

PPWP Pro makes it easy for you to hide your PDF file under a password form. All you need to do is embedding it in the content. Then, you wrap this content section in the partial content protection (PCP) shortcode or password protect the entire page.

​​[ppwp passwords=123 headline= "Protected File" Description ="Enter password to unlock and download this file" cookie=1 download_limit=1] 
<a href="your-file-URL"> Your file name </a> 

#1 Your PDF Is Not Protected by the PDA Gold Plugin

Once protected, your files will be covered under a password form to prevent users from seeing them. Unlike normal users, search crawlers have the ability to view and index your media files. Consequently, your PDFs will appear on search engines. Anyone with the URLs can download them without any fuss.

To prevent this, you’re required to install the PDA Gold plugin to protect your PDFs from direct access and unauthorized downloads. Unwelcomed users will be led to the 404 not found page when attempting to open it.

There is no way for search engines to index and rank your files either. You don’t have to worry about visitors finding your PDFs from search results.

You can refer to this guide on how to password protect your PDF files with PPWP Pro and PDA Gold.

#2 You’re Whitelisted Roles

PPWP Pro offers a list of whitelisted roles that allow users to access content without having to enter the password.

The default whitelisted users include admins. If you’re creating or updating a page/post then preview it under the admin role, you won’t see the password form of your file embedded in the content.

This is not a huge problem, though. In case you want to force every user to enter the password, simply reset the Whitelisted Roles part in the PPWP Pro plugin setting page.


#3 Your Password-protected Files Is Brute Force Attacked

Last but not least, brute force attacks are one of the main reasons making your password-protected files available to certain users or even the public.

Hackers will test thousands of passwords to see if any one of them can unlock your files. Once they open the password form, they can steal your files, share them with others, or resell them to customers at much lower prices.

This challenge requires you to set strong passwords for your PDFs. Longer passwords with letters (both upper case and lower case), numbers, and special characters always work better. Never use common passwords or your personal information since it only takes attackers a few seconds to break them.

You should think of adding captcha authentication to your password form too. This prevents password abuse and spam by automated software.

#4 You Add Your PDF File to a Custom Page Template

PPWP Pro plugin protects the default WordPage page or post template only. If you’re using a custom one, your pages are still open to public eyes although they’re already marked as protected.

That’s why the PDF embedded in this page template is still visible to the public. To completely set your content under custom templates private, you need to wrap it in a simple code snippet.

How to Remove Password from PDF files

It’s easy to encrypt a PDF, but it’s even much simpler to remove the password form from your file. If you’re using PPWP Pro and its PCP shortcode to wrap the file, you just need to delete the shortcode from your page.

What if you’re locking the entire page that contains the desired PDF? You can unprotect the post in the Posts section of your admin screen. All you need to do is click on the “Manage password” option and hit the “Unprotect this page” button.


You can also remove passwords right in the page’s edit screen, in the Password Protect section.

Can You Password Your PDFs Now?

We’ve introduced to you 4 main reasons why you can’t password protect your PDF files as well as solutions to handle them. Although these are not huge issues, they might affect your file protection process and user experience.

You should recheck if the PDF is protected with PDA Gold or inserted into a custom page template. Make sure you add a captcha box to your password form to prevent brute force attacks too.

If you still have any questions about password-protected files still visible, let us know in the comment section below.