Securing PDFs with passwords

  1. Acrobat User Guide
  2. Introduction to Acrobat
    1. Acrobat DC tutorials
    2. What's new in Acrobat DC
    3. Create PDFs with Acrobat
    4. Rotate, move, delete, and renumber PDF pages
    5. Edit text in PDFs
    6. PDF to Word – How to convert PDF to Word
    7. PDF to JPG– How to convert PDF to JPG
    8. Convert or export PDFs to other file formats
    9. Get started with Acrobat DC
    10. Navigating PDF pages
    11. Workspace basics | Acrobat DC
    12. System Requirements | Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, Adobe Acrobat Standard DC
    13. Workspace basics | Acrobat DC 2017, Acrobat DC Classic (2015)
  3. Workspace
    1. Workspace basics | Acrobat DC
    2. Workspace basics | Acrobat DC 2017, Acrobat DC Classic (2015)
    3. Viewing PDFs and viewing preferences
    4. Navigating PDF pages
    5. Adjusting PDF views
    6. Keyboard shortcuts
    7. Connect your online storage accounts to access files in Acrobat
    8. Grids, guides, and measurements in PDFs
    9. Flash Player needed | Acrobat, Acrobat Reader
    10. Display PDF in browser | Acrobat, Acrobat Reader
    11. Updating Acrobat and using Adobe Digital Editions
    12. Opening PDFs
    13. Asian, Cyrillic, and right-to-left text in PDFs
    14. Acrobat in Mac OS | Acrobat Pro
    15. Access Box files in Acrobat, Acrobat Reader
    16. Access Dropbox files in Acrobat, Acrobat Reader
    17. Access OneDrive files in Acrobat, Acrobat Reader
    18. Access SharePoint files in Acrobat, Acrobat Reader
    19. Access Google Drive files in Acrobat
    20. Enable thumbnail preview of PDFs in Windows Explorer
    21. Document Cloud notifications
  4. Creating PDFs
    1. Create PDFs with Acrobat
    2. Create PDFs with PDFMaker (Windows)
    3. Print to PDF
    4. Scan documents to PDF
    5. Overview of PDF creation
    6. Using the Adobe PDF printer
    7. Converting web pages to PDF
    8. PDF fonts
    9. Creating PDFs with Acrobat Distiller
    10. Adobe PDF conversion settings
  5. Editing PDFs
    1. Edit PDF using Acrobat DC
    2. Edit text in PDFs
    3. Edit images or objects in a PDF
    4. Rotate, move, delete, and renumber PDF pages
    5. Edit scanned PDFs
    6. Enhance document photos captured using a mobile camera
    7. Optimizing PDFs
    8. PDF properties and metadata
    9. Links and attachments in PDFs
    10. PDF layers
    11. Page thumbnails and bookmarks in PDFs
    12. Action Wizard (Acrobat Pro)
    13. PDFs converted to web pages
    14. Setting up PDFs for a presentation
    15. PDF articles
    16. Geospatial PDFs
    17. Applying actions and scripts to PDFs
    18. Change the default font for adding text and fallback font for editing PDF
    19. Delete PDF – How to delete pages from PDF
  6. Scan and OCR
    1. Scan documents to PDF
    2. Enhance document photos captured using a mobile camera
    3. Edit scanned PDFs
    4. Troubleshoot scanner issues when scanning using Acrobat
  7. Forms
    1. PDF forms basics
    2. Create a form from scratch in Acrobat
    3. Create and distribute PDF forms
    4. How to fill in PDF forms
    5. PDF form field properties
    6. Fill and sign PDF forms
    7. Setting action buttons in PDF forms
    8. Publishing interactive PDF web forms
    9. PDF form field basics
    10. PDF barcode form fields
    11. Collect and manage PDF form data
    12. About forms tracker
    13. PDF forms help
    14. Send PDF forms to recipients using email or an internal server
  8. Combining files
    1. Combine or merge files into single PDF
    2. Rotate, move, delete, and renumber PDF pages
    3. Add headers, footers, and Bates numbering to PDFs
    4. Crop PDF pages
    5. Add watermarks to PDFs
    6. Add backgrounds to PDFs
    7. Working with component files in a PDF Portfolio
    8. Publish and share PDF Portfolios
    9. Overview of PDF Portfolios
    10. Create and customize PDF Portfolios
  9. Sharing, reviews, and commenting
    1. Share and track PDFs online
    2. Mark up text with edits
    3. Preparing for a PDF review
    4. Starting a PDF review
    5. Hosting shared reviews on SharePoint or Office 365 sites
    6. Participating in a PDF review
    7. Use annotation and drawing markup tools to add comments in PDFs
    8. Adding a stamp to a PDF
    9. Approval workflows
    10. Managing comments | view, reply, print
    11. Importing and exporting comments
    12. Tracking and managing PDF reviews
    13. Adobe Document Cloud for Outlook
  10. Saving and exporting PDFs
    1. Saving PDFs
    2. PDF to Word – How to convert PDF to Word
    3. PDF to JPG– How to convert PDF to JPG
    4. Convert or export PDFs to other file formats
    5. File format options for PDF export
    6. Reusing PDF content
  11. Security
    1. Enhanced security setting for PDFs
    2. Securing PDFs with passwords
    3. Manage Digital IDs
    4. Securing PDFs with certificates
    5. Opening secured PDFs
    6. Removing sensitive content from PDFs
    7. Setting up security policies for PDFs
    8. Choosing a security method for PDFs
    9. Security warnings when a PDF opens
    10. Securing PDFs with Adobe Experience Manager - Forms Server (Document Security)
    11. Protected View feature for PDFs (Windows only)
    12. Overview of security in Acrobat and PDFs
    13. JavaScripts in PDFs as a security risk
    14. Attachments as security risks in Acrobat DC and Acrobat Reader DC
    15. How to allow or block links to the Internet in PDFs for all or selected websites
  12. Electronic signatures
    1. Sign PDF documents
    2. Capture your signature on mobile and use it everywhere
    3. Send documents for signature
    4. About certificate signatures in Adobe Acrobat
    5. Certificate-based signatures
    6. Validating digital signatures
    7. Adobe Approved Trust List
    8. Manage trusted identities
  13. Printing
    1. Basic PDF printing tasks
    2. Print Booklets and PDF Portfolios
    3. Advanced PDF print settings
    4. Print to PDF
    5. Printing color PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    6. Printing PDFs in custom sizes
  14. Accessibility, tags, and reflow
    1. Create and verify PDF accessibility (Acrobat Pro)
    2. Accessibility features in PDFs
    3. Reading Order tool for PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    4. Reading PDFs with reflow and accessibility features
    5. Edit document structure with the Content and Tags panels (Acrobat Pro)
    6. Creating accessible PDFs
  15. Searching and indexing
    1. Creating PDF indexes
    2. Searching PDFs
  16. Multimedia and 3D models
    1. Add audio, video, and interactive objects to PDFs
    2. Adding 3D models to PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    3. Displaying 3D models in PDFs
    4. Interacting with 3D models
    5. Measuring 3D objects in PDFs
    6. Setting 3D views in PDFs
    7. Enable 3D content in PDF
    8. Adding multimedia to PDFs
    9. Commenting on 3D designs in PDFs
    10. Playing video, audio, and multimedia formats in PDFs
    11. Add comments to videos (Acrobat Pro)
  17. Print production tools (Acrobat Pro)
    1. Print production tools overview (Acrobat Pro)
    2. Printer marks and hairlines (Acrobat Pro)
    3. Previewing output (Acrobat Pro)
    4. Transparency flattening (Acrobat Pro)
    5. Color conversion and ink management (Acrobat Pro)
    6. Trapping color (Acrobat Pro)
  18. Preflight (Acrobat Pro)
    1. PDF/X-, PDF/A-, and PDF/E-compliant files (Acrobat Pro)
    2. Preflight profiles (Acrobat Pro)
    3. Advanced preflight inspections (Acrobat Pro)
    4. Preflight reports (Acrobat Pro)
    5. Viewing preflight results, objects, and resources (Acrobat Pro)
    6. Output intents in PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    7. Correcting problem areas with the Preflight tool (Acrobat Pro)
    8. Automating document analysis with droplets or preflight actions (Acrobat Pro)
    9. Analyzing documents with the Preflight tool (Acrobat Pro)
    10. Additional checks in the Preflight tool (Acrobat Pro)
    11. Preflight libraries (Acrobat Pro)
    12. Preflight variables (Acrobat Pro)
  19. Color management
    1. Keeping colors consistent
    2. Color settings
    3. Color-managing documents
    4. Working with color profiles
    5. Understanding color management

Password security basics

You can limit access to a PDF by setting passwords and by restricting certain features, such as printing and editing. However, you cannot prevent saving copies of a PDF. The copies have the same restrictions as the original PDF. Two types of passwords are available:

Document open password

A Document Open password (also known as a user password) requires a user to type a password to open the PDF.

Permissions password

A permissions password (also known as a master password) requires a password to change permission settings. Using a permissions password, you can restrict printing, editing, and copying content in the PDF. Recipients don’t need a password to open the document in Reader or Acrobat. They do need a password to change the restrictions you've set.

If the PDF is secured with both types of passwords, it can be opened with either password. However, only the permissions password allows the user to change the restricted features. Because of the added security, setting both types of passwords is often beneficial.

Note:

You cannot add passwords to a signed or certified document.

Add a password to a PDF

  1. Open the PDF in Acrobat DC.

  2. Choose File > Protect Using Password. Alternatively, you can choose Tools > Protect > Protect Using Password.  

  3. Select if you want to set the password for Viewing or Editing the PDF.

    Protect using password

  4. Type and retype your password. Your password must be at least six characters long. The password strength is displayed next to your password to indicate whether the chosen password is weak, medium, strong, or best.

  5. Click Apply. Acrobat displays a confirmation message that the file was successfully protected using password.

    Protection confirmation message

  1. Open the PDF in Acrobat DC, and do one of the following:

    • Choose Tools > Protect > More Options > Encrypt with Password.
    • Choose File > Protect Using Password, and then choose Advanced Password Protection from More Options.
  2. If you receive a prompt, click Yes to change the security.

  3. Select Require A Password To Open The Document, then type the password in the corresponding field. Your password must be at least six characters long. For each keystroke, the password strength meter evaluates your password and indicates the password strength.

    Select Require a Password to Open the Document
    Password Security - Settings let you set a password to open a PDF

  4. Select an Acrobat version from the Compatibility drop-down menu. Choose a version equal to or lower than the recipients’ version of Acrobat or Reader.

    Options control compatibility with previous versions and type of encryption
    Options control compatibility with previous versions and type of encryption

    The Compatibility option you choose determines the type of encryption used. It is important to choose a version compatible with the recipient's version of Acrobat or Reader. For example, Acrobat 7 cannot open a PDF encrypted for Acrobat X and later.

    • Acrobat 6.0 And Later (PDF 1.5) encrypts the document using 128-bit RC4.
    • Acrobat 7.0 And Later (PDF 1.6) encrypts the document using the AES encryption algorithm with a 128-bit key size.
    • Acrobat X And Later (PDF 1.7) encrypts the document using 256-bit AES. To apply 256-bit AES encryption to documents created in Acrobat 8 and 9, select Acrobat X And Later.
  5. Select an encryption option:

    Encrypt All Document Contents

    Encrypts the document and the document metadata. If this option is selected, search engines cannot access the document metadata.

    Encrypt All Document Contents Except Metadata

    Encrypts the contents of a document but still allows search engines access to the document metadata.

    Note:

    The iFilter and the Find or Advance Search commands of Acrobat do not look into the PDF’s metadata even when you select the Encrypt All Document Contents Except Metadata option. You can use a search tool that takes advantage of XMP metadata.

    Encrypt Only File Attachments

    Requires a password to open file attachments. Users can open the document without a password. Use this option to create security envelopes.

  6. Click OK. At the prompt to confirm the password, retype the appropriate password in the box and click OK.

Restrict editing of a PDF

You can prevent users from changing PDFs. The restrict editing option prohibits users from editing text, moving objects, or adding form fields. Users can still fill in form fields, sign, or add comments.

  1. Open the PDF in Acrobat DC, and do one of the following:

    • Choose File > Protect Using Password.
    • Choose Tools > Protect > Protect Using Password.
  2. If you receive a prompt, click Yes to change the security.

  3. Choose Editing, and then type and retype your password. Your password must be at least six characters long. The password strength is displayed next to your password to indicate whether the chosen password is weak, medium, or strong.

    Restrict editing

  4. Click Apply. Acrobat displays a confirmation message that the file was successfully protected using password.

    Restrict editing confirmation message

Restrict printing, editing, and copying

You can prevent users from printing, editing, or copying content in a PDF. You can set the restrictions you want to apply to the PDF. Users cannot change these restrictions unless you give them password.

Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign do not have view‑only modes. To open a restricted PDF in these applications, the user must enter the permissions password.

Note:

If you forget a password, you cannot recover it from the PDF. Consider keeping a backup copy of the PDF that isn’t password-protected.

  1. Open the PDF in Acrobat DC, and do one of the following:

    • Choose Tools > Protect > More Options > Encrypt with Password.
    • Choose File > Protect Using Password, and then choose Advanced Password Protection from More Options.
  2. If you receive a prompt, click Yes to change the security.

  3. Select Restrict Editing And Printing Of The Document.

    All Adobe products enforce the restrictions set by the permissions password. However, if third-party products do not support these settings, document recipients are able to bypass some or all of the restrictions you set.

  4. Type the password in the corresponding field. Your password must be at least six characters long. For each keystroke, the password strength meter evaluates your password and indicates the password strength.

    Password Security options
    Password Security - Settings let you restrict printing, editing, and copying

  5. Select what the user can print from the Printing Allowed menu:

    None

    Prevents users from printing the document.

    Low Resolution (150 dpi)

    Lets users print at no higher than 150‑dpi resolution. Printing may be slower because each page is printed as a bitmap image. This option is available only if the Compatibility option is set to Acrobat 5 (PDF 1.4) or later.

    High Resolution

    Lets users print at any resolution, directing high-quality vector output to PostScript and other printers that support advanced high-quality printing features.

  6. Select what the user can change from the Changes Allowed menu:

    None

    Prevents users from making any changes to the document that are listed in the Changes Allowed menu, such as filling in form fields and adding comments.

    Inserting, Deleting, And Rotating Pages

    Lets users insert, delete, and rotate pages, and create bookmarks and thumbnails. This option is only available for high (128‑bit RC4 or AES) encryption.

    Filling In Form Fields And Signing Existing Signature Fields

    Lets users fill in forms and add digital signatures. This option doesn’t allow them to add comments or create form fields. This option is only available for high (128‑bit RC4 or AES) encryption.

    Commenting, Filling In Form Fields, And Signing Existing Signature Fields

    Lets users add comments and digital signatures, and fill in forms. This option doesn’t allow users to move page objects or create form fields.

    Any Except Extracting Pages

    Lets users edit the document, create and fill in form fields, and add comments and digital signatures.

  7. Choose any of the following options:

    Enable Copying Of Text, Images, And Other Content

    Lets users select and copy the contents of a PDF.

    Enable Text Access For Screen Reader Devices For The Visually Impaired

    Lets visually impaired users read the document with screen readers, but doesn’t allow users to copy or extract the document’s contents. This option is available only for high (128‑bit RC4 or AES) encryption.

  8. Select an Acrobat version from the Compatibility menu. Choose a version equal to or lower than the recipients’ version of Acrobat or Reader. The Compatibility option you choose determines the type of encryption used. It is important to choose a version compatible with the recipient's version of Acrobat or Reader. For example, Acrobat 7 cannot open a PDF encrypted for Acrobat X and later.

    PDF Compatibility options

    • Acrobat 6.0 And Later (PDF 1.5) encrypts the document using 128-bit RC4.
    • Acrobat 7.0 And Later (PDF 1.6) encrypts the document using the AES encryption algorithm with a 128-bit key size.
    • Acrobat X And Later (PDF 1.7) encrypts the document using 256-bit AES. To apply 256-bit AES encryption to documents created in Acrobat 8 and 9, select Acrobat X And Later.
  9. Select what you want to encrypt:

    Encrypt All Document Contents

    Encrypts the document and the document metadata. If this option is selected, search engines cannot access the document metadata.

    Encrypt All Document Contents Except Metadata

    Encrypts the contents of a document but still allows search engines access to the document metadata.

    Note:

    The iFilter and the Find or Advance Search commands of Acrobat do not look into the PDF’s metadata even when you select the Encrypt All Document Contents Except Metadata option. You can use a search tool that takes advantage of XMP metadata.

    Encrypt Only File Attachments

    Requires a password to open file attachments. Users can open the document without a password. Use this option to create security envelopes.

  10. Click OK. At the prompt to confirm the password, retype the appropriate password in the box and click OK.

Remove password security

You can remove security from an open PDF if you have the permissions to do so. If the PDF is secured with a server-based security policy, only the policy author or a server administrator can change it.

  1. Open the PDF, then select Tools > Protect > More Options > Remove Security.

  2. Your options vary depending on the type of password security attached to the document:

    • If the document had only a Document Open password, click OK to remove it from the document.
    • If the document had a permissions password, type it in the Enter Password box, and then click OK. Click OK again to confirm the action.
Adobe logo

Sign in to your account