How to Limit Editing and Printing in Adobe Acrobat CS6 - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

In addition to restricting viewing of a PDF file in Adobe Acrobat CS6, you can also limit editing and printing, restricting users from making changes to your document. This allows users to view a file but not change it.

To limit editing and printing of your PDF document, follow these steps:

  1. With a PDF file open, click Tools→Protection→Encrypt→Encrypt with Password.

    The Password Security – Settings dialog box opens.

  2. In the Permissions area, select the check box labeled Restrict Editing and Printing of the document.

    You can now specify a password that will be required for readers to edit the file or change the security settings.

    With this option selected, you can apply a password for access to features, such as printing or editing. This password can be different than the password used to open the document — in fact, you don’t even need to use a document open password if you don’t want to, but it’s a good idea to use both of these passwords for sensitive data.

    If you apply a document open password without a permissions password, it’s easy for an experienced user to bypass the security in the PDF file.

  3. In the Change Permissions Password text box, enter a password.

    Users that enter this permissions password when opening the document can change the file or the security settings. The permissions password can also be used to open the file, and it provides more privileges than the open password.

  4. Choose whether users can print the document by selecting an option from the Printing Allowed drop-down list.

    The choices include Low Resolution or High Resolution, or you can prohibit printing by choosing None. The settings you choose here apply to anyone who accesses the document and doesn’t know the permissions password.

  5. Select an option from the Changes Allowed drop-down list to restrict editing.

    For the most security, choose None.


  6. Select the last two check boxes if desired:

    • Enable Copying of Text, Images, and Other Content: When deselected, this option restricts copying and pasting of text and graphics from a PDF file into other documents. Selecting this option lets users extract text and images from a file by using the simple Copy and Paste commands.

    • Enable Text Access for Screen Reader Devices for the Visually Impaired: When you choose Acrobat 5 or Later from the Compatibility drop-down list at the top of the dialog box, you can also select this check box to allow visually impaired users to have the PDF file read aloud to them.

  7. When you’re satisfied with the settings, click OK.

Choosing more advanced security settings, and choosing the latest version of compatibility, runs the risk of your file not being visible to many users that may not have upgraded to the most recent version of the Adobe Reader or Acrobat. Always understand your audience members and the software versions they’re using before distributing files.