Protecting Your Document 233
Acrobat lets you restrict what users can
do with your file once they have opened it.
The Permissions controls in the Password
Security Settings dialog
allow you to
restrict the editing and printing of your
file, and to assign a password that must
be typed in before the permissions can
These permissions and their password are
completely independent of the password
needed to open the document. You can
have an Open password, a Permissions
password, both, or neither.
When protecting your document, you
can select among three levels of printing
High Resolution. This option allows
unrestricted printing of the document.
Low Resolution. The document is
always printed as a 150-dpi bitmap.
Thus, a reader can print a proof of this
document but not a high-quality copy.
None. The document cannot be printed.
The Permissions controls let you specify the degree to which readers can edit your document.
You can also allow one of five degrees of
permission for changing the file:
None. The reader isn’t allowed to
modify the file.
Inserting, deleting, and rotating pages.
The reader can change the orientation
or presence of pages but cannot modify
the contents of those pages.
Filling in form fields and signing
existing signature fields. This option
is appropriate for a distributed form. It
allows recipients to input information in
a questionnaire but prevents them from
playfully changing the wording of the
questions using the editing tools.
Commenting, filling in form fields, and
signing existing signature fields. Read-
ers can fill in a form and attach com-
ments. Thus, an expense report form
would allow the attachment of scanned
receipts (as an “attachment” comment).
Any except extracting pages. Readers
can modify the document in any way
they wish except pulling the pages out
into another document. Note that read-
ers can use the editing tools to change
the content of the PDF file.
continues on next page
234 Chapter 15
In addition to these editing and printing
permissions, a check box below the pop-
up menus allows readers to copy text and
other content from your file, presumably so
they can paste it into another document.
Finally, if you restrict copying of the content
of your document, you may nonetheless
allow screen readers and other devices for
the visually impaired to extract the text.
To assign permissions
to a document:
1. With the document open, choose File >
Acrobat displays the Document Proper-
2. In the Security Method pop-up menu,
choose Password Security.
The Password Security Settings dialog
3. Select the “Restrict editing and printing”
4. Type a password in the Change Permis-
sions Password field.
As usual, the password you type
appears as a row of bullets on the
screen and a strength meter provides
a measure of its effectiveness.
5. Choose the degree of printing permis-
sion you want from the Printing Allowed
To assign permissions to a document, start by
specifying password protection in the Document
You can forbid a reader to print your document,
allow a low-resolution proof, or allow high-quality
One important detail to remember about
setting permissions is that obeying the
restrictions is the responsibility of the
PDF-viewing software, which includes
not only the Adobe Acrobat products,
but also such programs as Apple’s Pre-
view and the free Ghostscript program.
Permissions exist as a series of “flags”
in the PDF file that tell the PDF viewer
which actions are restricted and which
are allowed. Absolutely nothing enforces
these restrictions; if a PDF viewer
chooses to ignore them, it may allow its
user to print, edit, and otherwise modify
the PDF file regardless of the permis-
Protecting Your Document 235
6. From the Changes Allowed pop-up
menu, choose the permission you want
to allow for editing your file
7. If you want to allow readers to copy text
and images from your PDF file, select
the “Enable copying” check box.
8. If you choose to not allow readers to
copy text from your file, but you still
want screen readers for the visually
impaired to work, select the “Enable
text access” check box.
This check box is disabled if you allow
9. Click OK.
Acrobat asks you to confirm your pass-
10.Type your password in the text box, and
Acrobat returns you to the Document
11. Click OK to return to the document page.
The permissions aren’t actually set until
you save the PDF file. Until then, you
can click the Change Settings button
in the Document Properties dialog and
modify your permissions.
Once you’ve saved your file, the Docu-
ment Properties dialog reflects your
You can choose from a variety of degrees to
which a user can modify your PDF file.
When you close the Password Security
Settings dialog, Acrobat asks you to confirm
Once you’ve saved your document, the
Permissions settings are put in place and the
Document Properties dialog reflects this.
236 Chapter 15
Redacting a Document
Acrobat Pro Only: Redaction refers to
marking out or otherwise rendering
unreadable sensitive parts of a document,
usually to preserve information secrecy.
This can be done to protect legal or trade
secrets, or to prevent someone’s personal
information from being broadcast.
In Acrobat X, redaction is a three-step
1. You first set the redaction properties,
specifying how redacted items appear
on the page.
2. Next, you go through the document
and choose the text and graphics that
should be redacted.
3. You then apply redaction to the marked
items. Acrobat replaces each redacted
item with a colored block (a redaction
overlay), optionally containing a text
Once redacted, the items are perma-
nently unreadable; the process cannot be
undone. (It wouldn’t be worth much if it
could be undone, now would it?)
Redacted items in your PDF file are covered
with opaque redaction overlays. (Exp. Del. is short
for “Expletive Deleted,” if you were curious.)
The redaction tools reside in the
Protection panel of the Tools pane.
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Protecting Your Document 237
You carry out the redaction process using
the redaction tools in the Protection panel
of the Tools pane
Let’s first set the redaction properties.
To set redaction properties:
1. In the Protection panel, click Redaction
The Redaction Tool Properties dialog
2. Choose the color you want for the
redaction overlays by clicking in the
color control labeled “Redacted Area
Fill Color” and selecting a color from
the resulting color picker.
3. If you want to place text into the redac-
tion overlays, select the Use Overlay
Text check box.
4. Choose your text characteristics: font,
size, color, and alignment.
Remember that the text color must be
readable against the fill color you chose
in step 2.
5. If you want to supply your own text for
the overlay, type the text in the Custom
6. If you want to use a standard code to
indicate the reason for the redaction,
choose one from among the code sets.
Acrobat provides codes from the U.S.
Freedom of Information Act and the
U.S. Privacy Act. You can add your own
sets of codes, if you want; consult the
Acrobat X Help to learn how to do this.
7. Click OK.
The Redaction Tool Properties dialog lets you
specify the appearance of the redaction overlays.
I always select the “Auto-size text to fit
redaction region” check box. Acrobat picks a
font size for each redacted item that makes
the overlay text exactly fit the overlay.
You’ll notice there is another pair of color
controls at the bottom of the Redaction Tool
. These specify the color
of the temporary rectangle the redaction tools
put on the page when you are initially marking
areas for redaction.
Although you technically don’t have to
reset the redaction properties for each docu-
ment you redact, I usually do because I gener-
ally want a different label for each document’s
238 Chapter 15
To redact items in a document:
1. In the Protection panel, click Mark for
The pointer turns into an I-beam when
it’s over text and a crosshair when it’s
over white space in your document.
2. With the I-beam pointer, select all the
text that needs to be hidden.
3. With the crosshair, drag enclosing
rectangles around artwork or other
items that need to be obscured.
Acrobat draws a rectangle around the
marked text and artwork
. When the
pointer moves over it, the rectangle
changes to show the redaction over-
lay that will be placed there when the
redaction is applied
4. In the Protection panel, click Apply
Acrobat hides all the redacted items
with redaction overlays.
Acrobat then examines your document,
looking for other internal information
that you may also want to remove for
security reasons. Acrobat optionally
presents you with the Remove Hid-
den Information pane
, which lists all
the comments, bookmarks, electronic
signatures, and other data it found in
5. Click the Remove button, if desired.
Acrobat removes the internal objects
from the document and returns you to
your now-redacted document page.
Acrobat marks the newly redacted
document as Save-As Only; you must
save it with a new name. When you
close the document, the standard Save
dialog opens, prompting you to save
Items you’ve selected for redaction are
outlined with a thick border.
When the Select for Redaction pointer moves
over a redaction marker, the rectangle changes to
show how the final redaction overlay will look.
Having redacted the items you
selected, Acrobat searches the
document for other, hidden items
you may want to remove.
Protecting Your Document 239
While you are marking items for redac-
tion, you can change your mind and remove
the mark from an item. To do so, click its
marking rectangle, and press the Delete or
Backspace key. You need to do this before
you apply the redaction.
You can also redact entire pages in the
document. Click Mark Pages to Redact in the
Protection panel; Acrobat will display a dialog
that lets you specify a range of pages to be
. Every page of the range you
specify will have its entire contents marked
Search and redact
As a great convenience, Acrobat searches
for words and phrases in your document
and redacts all instances of that text. The
process is similar to searching for text, as
discussed in Chapter 2.
Acrobat can search out and redact three
types of text in your document:
All instances of a particular word or
All instances of a list of words or
All instances of a particular text pattern
(such as social security numbers or
To redact all instances of a
phrase in a document:
1. In the Protection panel, click Search &
Acrobat opens the Search dialog and
zooms your document page out so the
two windows (Search and document)
together fill your screen
. The Search
window defaults to searching for a
continues on next page
You can specify an entire page be redacted.
You can redact the current page or a specified
range of pages.
Clicking the Search & Redact button lets you
specify a word or phrase that should be redacted
throughout your document.
240 Chapter 15
2. In the Search dialog’s text field, type the
phrase or word you want to redact.
3. Click the Search and Redact button.
The Search dialog opens and presents
you with a list of instances of the search
phrase found in the document
item in this list has a check box next to
it, indicating that that instance should
4. Select the check boxes for all the
instances in the list that you want to
You can also click the Check All button
to choose all items in the list.
5. Click the “Mark Checked Results for
Acrobat marks for redaction all
selected instances of the text in
6. In the Protection panel, click Apply
Clicking the Search window’s “Mark Checked
Results for Redaction” button marks all the
selected items for redaction.
The Search window presents a list of all the
instances of the found text. Selecting an item’s
check box marks the item for redaction.
Protecting Your Document 241
To redact all instances of a list of
words or phrases in a document:
1. In the Protection panel, click Search
& Remove Text.
2. In the Search window, click the “Mul-
tiple words or phrase” radio button
The window rearranges itself, among
other things making visible a Select
3. Click the Select Words button.
Acrobat presents you with a dialog
that lets you create a list of words or
phrases that should be redacted
4. Type a word or phrase into the “New
word or phrase” field and then click
the Add button. Repeat until you are
Acrobat adds the words and phrases
to the redaction list. The dialog also
provides buttons that let you export
and import a list of words and remove
words from the redaction list.
5. Click OK when you have completed
Acrobat immediately marks for redac-
tion all instances of any of the words
or phrases in your list.
6. In the Protection panel, click Apply
If you opt to redact multiple words or
phrases, Acrobat makes visible a button
labeled Select Words.
The Words and Phrases dialog lets you specify
a list of, well, words and phrases that should be
redacted in your document.
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