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How to Make PDF Read-Only

2020-09-09 17:47:42 • Filed to: How-To • Proven solutions

A read-only PDF simply means that users can open and view the file and its contents but cannot manipulate or edit the PDF in any way. While the question of how to make PDF read-only is easy enough to answer, it does require special tools to apply such a permission restriction. To create a read-only PDF for offline or online use, we recommend using PDFelement, a robust PDF editor with a wide range of functionality that includes PDF security in the form of password-based PDF encryption and the ability to set two types of passwords. One is for accessing the file and the second, which is relevant to this article, is to set a permission restriction to generate a read-only PDF file. Let's look at the process of how to save a PDF as read-only so users can't edit it or make any other changes.

How to Make PDF Read Only

The following shows three simple steps to lock a PDF file for editing using PDFelement, while the final step shows you how to unlock the file so it can be edited by any PDF editor. Let's begin.

Step 1: Import PDF and Click the Padlock Icon

The first step, obviously, is to import a PDF file into PDFelement. This is easily done with a drag-and-drop motion or using the "Open File" option in the main welcome window. Once the file is open, click the "Protect" tab at the top of the window and then the padlock icon in the toolbar. Next, move to Step 2.

read only pdf

Step 2: Set a Permission Password for the PDF

When you see the Password Security window, check the box for "Permissions" and set a password. The dropdown menus and the copying checkbox will allow you to choose what type of restrictions you want to apply and what actions are allowed. Set the parameters and click on "OK". The restrictions will be applied and only someone who has the Permissions password will be able to unlock the restrictions.

how to make pdf read only

Note: please don't set the "Open Password", as if you set the open password, others will have to enter the password to open the document, and it will be unreadable.

Step 3: Save the PDF as Read-Only

The final step is to save the file to a chosen location, which can be the local drive or a cloud storage account. Just click "File" > "Save As" to see the options.

make pdf read only

Once the file is saved, you can check its properties to see what restrictions have been enabled. Also click "File" and then "Properties" > "Security".

how to save pdf as read only

Step 4: How to Remove Read-Only Restrictions in PDF

After the above steps, the PDF file will be read-only. If others want to edit the file, they will need to click "Enable Editing" and then enter the set Permission password and click "OK" when attempting to edit the file.

save pdf as read only

Another Way to Make PDF Read Only

If you don't want to apply such granular restrictions but merely want a version of your PDF file where the content can't be changed, all you need to do is convert it into an image file. You can do that in PDFelement as well. Here are the steps.

  • 1. Open the file in PDFelement as shown in Step 1 above.
  • 2. In the "Convert" tab, click on the "To Image" button. This will convert the PDF to JPG or any image format you pick.
  • 3. Click "Save" to convert the file and save it with the same name so you know the source of the content. The .jpg or .png file extension will prevent it from overwriting your original PDF.
make pdf read only online

The output file is now an image that can be shared. To make a PDF read-only online or to convert a PDF to read-only online, you can use a reliable web application like HiPDF. The above process describes how to make a PDF read-only using PDFelement. This powerful PDF editor has several other functions that have been outlined below.

  • Complete PDF editing capability: Edit any PDF element including text, images, hyperlinks, objects, embedded media, comments, annotations, watermarks, headers, footers, backgrounds, and other components.
  • Create, Convert: Creating PDF from other files and converting PDF to other formats is as simple as a one-click action. The powerfully accurate conversion engine ensures the integrity of data layout, formatting, and other attributes.
  • Annotate, Fill, Sign: Comprehensive review and commenting tools, form-filling, and digital signatures. Robust suite of forms management functions including data extraction, form conversion from non-editable formats to PDF, and much more.
  • PDF Protection: Strong encryption can be added to PDFs, as well as restrictions on editing, copying, and printing. In addition, content can be redacted for confidentiality purposes. Encryption is also available as a bulk or batch process so you can lock or restrict hundreds of documents together.
  • Advanced Functions: Batch Process, OCR, form field recognition, and redaction are just some of the advanced features.

As you can see, PDFelement can not only help you make a PDF read-only but gives you all the tools you need to manage your document workflows in a seamless and effortless manner. It is available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, and each of these products is designed to be in line with each platform's respective design and usability themes.

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Elise Williams

chief Editor

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