Tips for Acrobat PDFs: Part 3 – PDF Security

In this dynamic digital world, it’s easy to share information, but how can you protect copyrighted material from unauthorized access and distribution? This article discusses the many security features available in Acrobat Pro for protecting your PDFs so that you can limit and control how your PDFs are accessed, viewed, and edited.  

You can use a password to restrict access to a specific PDF file or create a security policy that can be applied to any PDF. Apart from restricting the viewing of a document, you can also impose limits to the following using security settings and encryption: 

  • Printing 
  • Copying content 
  • Extracting content (such as text or images) 
  • Filling forms and adding signature to the signature fields 
  • Inserting, deleting, or rotating pages 
  • Adding review comments 
  • Modifying the document  

Advanced security options also include encrypting a file with a certificate, which is not covered in this blog. The focus of this blog is securing PDFs using a password and password encryption.   

Secure an individual PDF with a password 

  1. Open the PDF to which you want to apply the security settings. 
  2. Select Tools>Protect , and then select Protect Using Password  .  
  3. In the Protect Using Password dialog box (shown in the image below), select Viewing or Editing, as required.  
  4. Type a strong password in the Type Password field and retype that password again in the Re-type Password field. Acrobat checks for the strength of the password and does not accept weak passwords. So, make sure that your password is strong with a combination of alphanumeric characters and is at least six characters long.  
    A screenshot of a computer screen

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  5. Click Apply to save your password. 

Add password encryption 

  1. If you need to set more specific limits on editing, click Advanced Options, and select encrypt with a password.  
  2. In the Password Security – Settings dialog box, set up the following (a screenshot is provided below for reference): 
  • If you want a password to open the document, select Require a password to open the document in the Document Open section. Type a strong password in the Document Open Password field. 
  • The checkboxes and the drop-down list options in the Permissions section are self-explanatory. Make the appropriate selections. If you selected any of the options, provide a strong password in the Change Permissions Password field. 
  • In Options, select the appropriate encryption option. Encrypt all document contents is the default option.  

A screenshot of a computer

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3. Once you verify that your selections are complete, click OK to apply the settings to your PDF. 

View the encryption in a PDF 

  1. Open the encrypted PDF file. Of course, if the file is view protected, then you will need to know the password to open it. 
  2. Select File>Properties. In the Security tab, click the Show Details button. The Document Security details are displayed as shown below.  

A screenshot of a computer screen

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Remove security from a PDF 

If you know the password to a protected PDF, you can open the file with the password and then remove security and save it without the security so that you don’t have to bother typing the password every time you access the PDF. 

  1. Open the PDF. 
  2. Select Tools>Protect
  3. From the Advanced Options drop-down menu, click Remove Security
  4. When the system prompts, confirm that you want to remove the security.  

To learn more about PDF security, read my next blog on managing security policies.  

We hope these tips and tricks improve your Adobe experience. If you have other questions about PDF security, do reach out to us at   

About the Author

Surya Nair

Technical Writer and Editor<br><br>Surya has been writing and editing technical content for over two decades in multiple industries. How do you transform complex technical content into an easy-to-understand document? Ask Surya - technical writing is her passion! She has been with ASCENT since 2018. She holds a master’s degree in English Literature, and a diploma in Journalism, and is a certified Technical Writer.

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