Protected View feature for PDFs (Windows)

For added security, Acrobat Reader contains a protected mode and protected view to keep your computer safe. With Protected Mode enabled, all operations required by Acrobat Reader to display the PDF file are run in a restricted manner inside a confined environment, the “sandbox.” 

Protected mode

By default, Adobe Reader runs in protected mode to provide an added layer of security. In protected mode, malicious PDF documents can’t launch arbitrary executable files or write to system directories or the Windows Registry.

To check the status of protected mode, choose File > Properties > Advanced > Protected Mode.

Protected mode is enabled by default. To specify the settings, do the following:

  1. Choose Edit > Preferences.

  2. In the Categories list on the left, select Security (Enhanced).

  3. In the Sandbox Protections section, select or deselect Enable Protected Mode At Startup.

    • Enable Create Protected Mode Log File to record events. The changes take effect the next time you start the application.
    • Click View Log to open the log file.

Protected view

For additional security and to avoid potential security risks associated with files that may have originated from unsafe locations, use the Protected View mode. In the Protected View mode, most features are disabled. You can view the PDF, but not do much else.

In the Protected View, a yellow bar displays on top of the Reader  window. Click Enable All Features to exit the Protected View.  

Protected View information bar
Protected View information bar

To modify when the Protected View is used, do the following:

  1. Choose Edit > Preferences.
  2. In the Categories list on the left, select Security (Enhanced).
  3. In the Sandbox Protections area, select an option for Protected View:
    • Off
    • Files From Potentially Unsafe Locations
    • All Files

Privileged Locations

You can add specific files, folders, and hosts to privileged locations to selectively trust PDF files, and bypass the security restrictions.

Open the Preferences dialog box, select the Security (Enhanced) category, and under the Privileged Locations, do the following:

  • To trust all documents with a valid security certificate, select Automatically Trust Documents With Valid Certification.
  • To trust any sites you already trust in Internet Explorer, select Automatically Trust Sites From My Win OS Security Zones.
  • To add only one or two PDFs from a location, click Add File.
  • To create a trusted folder for multiple PDFs, click Add Folder Path or Add Host.
  • To allow data to load from a website, enter the name of the root URL. For example, enter, but not To trust files from secure connections only, select Secure Connections Only (https:).

The setting Automatically Trust Sites From My Win OS Security Zones is applicable when Protected View is set to Files From Potentially Unsafe Locations

If the Protected View is set to All Files, the trusted sites will open in the protected view by default unless you add it to the Privileged Locations list.

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