Password protect posts on WordPress to limit access to content

WordPress normally makes posts publicly accessible, but sometimes you want to limit access to a select group of people, like email subscribers or members. Here is how to do it using password protected posts.

Why limit access to posts and pages?

One common reason for wanting to limit access to posts and pages by password protecting them is to offer something exclusive to a certain subsection of your website visitors.

For example, you may have a freebies page where you offer downloads like ebooks in PDF format, resources like images, templates, worksheets and similar downloads and content.

Instead of making all these freely available to the general public, you could require them to sign up to your email list first. Building this is an important task that helps to grow your audience.

If your freebies are on a password protected page, you can provide the password in your welcome email to new subscribers, or include it in the weekly or daily emails you send to subscribers.

You could also use it to tempt people to sign up for your Facebook group. Just make the group a closed one so that only members can see the content, and put the password in a pinned post or somewhere members can easily find it.

You could also provide extra content to people that buy goods, services, courses and so on. Just include the password somewhere they will see it when they purchase stuff, or send buyers a follow-up email with the password.

There are many possibilities, so how do you actually password protect a post or page in WordPress?

Password protect a page or post in WordPress

1 Create or edit a post or page

Create a new post or page, or load an existing one that you want to protect.

Add a new post in WordPress


2 Edit the visibility

In the Publish box in the sidebar on the right, click the Edit link next to Visibility: Public. This enables you to change the status and limit who can view the post or page.

Publish a post in WordPress - the publish options


3 Post/page access options

The options are now visible and you can see that Public is selected by default, with an option to make it sticky. This makes it permanently the first blog post listed on the home page. Ignore that and select the Password protected option.

The post visibility options in WordPress


4 Set a password

You can now enter a password for the page into the box. Do not forget it! Write it down somewhere because you will need to give it to people so they can access the post. Click OK and then publish the post.

Password protect a post in WordPress


Access a password protected page or post

What happens when you visit a post or page on a website that is password protected? Let’s take a look. This freebies page was protected and here is what the user sees. Colours, fonts and styles depend on the theme of course.

The message displayed when a password protected page is accessed in WordPress


Make posts and pages private

As you will have noticed when password protecting a post or page (step 4 above), there is an option to make the post or page private. What does this mean?

A private post is one that is published in the normal way, but it cannot be seen by the public, subscribers, contributors and authors.

Only users with accounts set to administrator or editor can see a private post.

A large website that is maintained by several people may have internal documents, such as editorial guidelines and information that they don’t want to make public. Setting them to Private ensures that only editors and admins can see them.