Most of us use Google Docs when using our Chromebooks for productivity. This is because it comes as free with your Google Account, and you need a Google account when using ChromeOS.
You’ve probably noticed that it isn’t possible when it comes to password-protecting a document or sheets document. This is a little frustrating because there may be times when you want password-protected files. The idea with Google is that your password to log in to your Google Account is your protection; therefore, no further protection is needed.
I’ve been using Microsoft 365 a lot on my Chromebook lately. Sadly, it’s the same issue when using MS apps like Word or Excel. There simply isn’t an option to password-protect individual documents.
This is what people need
I find it really strange that both Google and Microsoft do not offer this functionality. There are workarounds using third-party software, but why is it not possible directly from the app? I can’t understand why both would not put some effort into adding this functionality. I used a workaround for Google Docs to password-protect docs, and it worked, but it certainly isn’t a great option. Watch my video on how to password-protect Google Docs.
If you’re using Microsoft 365 from the browser or even if you add the apps as a PWA to your Chromebook. Plenty of internet search results state it’s possible, but it isn’t. There is a workaround that works but it does mean having access to the full versions of MS Office.
If Google Drive had a password-protect vault or password-protected folder it would not be such an issue. You could simply put any files that need protecting inside these and keep them protected. OneDrive does offer a vault for paid subscribers, but the OneDrive vault does not work too great on the Chromebook.
The full version of MS Office apps
If you use Microsoft 365 on ChromeOS and pay for a subscription. You also have access to the full office programs. This is great if you also own a Windows PC or if you have Windows 10 installed on your Chromebook.
If you do have access to the full office programs. You can use these programs inside Windows, which will give you the ability to set passwords for documents such as Word and Excel. The good news is although you have to create the passwords using the full programs. Any document password protected this way carries the password with the document, even if you open it using a Microsoft 365 Web App.
This means you can password-protect these documents. However, it isn’t perfect because it means you will always have to set the password using the full programs first.
As more of us use the internet for productivity using apps such as Google Docs or Microsoft 365 Web Apps. I’m sure the need to have the ability to individually protect documents will be something people continue to want.
I’m hoping Google and Microsoft add this functionality in the future because it offers better protection. At the moment both take the view that nobody can access your files without your system password. The only way they can get access is if you decide to share files with them.
This is absolutely true, but what about if you leave your Chromebook open and someone decides to read your documents? Even more of an issue is when you share files. You have no idea how good the person you’re sharing files is when it comes to keeping their data protected. If they regularly leave their computer open someone could easily read or send a document to another user. A password would prevent this from being a problem, as they would need the password to access it.