PDF security

October 28, 2008

One of the great benefits of PDFs is that they’re (almost) universally readable. But sometimes you don’t want everyone to read your work.

Using full Acrobat you can password-protect a PDF, thus restricting viewing, changing, and even printing to only those who know the password. You can also prohibit text and image content from being copied and pasted. Your PDF document retains the settings you selected, even if it’s downloaded from the web.

As a user you might not be happy about some of these restrictions, but as a content owner, you may be pleased that Acrobat offers this sort of security.

  1. In Acrobat (NOT Acrobat Reader), select File > Properties from the menu (or File > Document Properties in earlier versions).
  2. Select Security, then change the Security Method to Password Security.
  3. On the Password Security – Settings window, select the areas you want protected.
  4. Click OK to close all windows.

Don’t forget—if you set a password on the document, you’ll need to remember it too, otherwise you won’t be able to open the document either!

[This article was first published in the June 2003 CyberText Newsletter; steps last checked January 2008 and rechecked in September 2008 for compatibility with Acrobat Professional 9]

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