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5 Ways to Protect PDF from Copying

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2024-05-22 13:36:15 • Filed to: Password Protect PDF • Proven solutions

Perhaps you want to share PDF files online, but you need to make sure that the files are secure so that no one can access and copy them without permission. This article will discuss 5 methods for how to protect PDF files from copying with Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor and online solutions.

Method 1: Protect PDF from Copying

PDFelement has two password options to protect your PDF file. One is "Open Password," which allows you to set a password to prevent unauthorized users from opening or accessing your PDF files, and the other is "Permission Password," which prevents individuals from copying or printing your PDF files even after they have opened it. Follow the steps below to protect your PDF files from unauthorized copying by setting a password.

Step 1. Open Your PDF

Launch PDFelement on your computer. Click the "+" button on the Home window. Browse for the file that you want to open and click on the "Open" button to display the PDF file that you want to protect.

how to prevent pdf from copying

Step 2. Protect PDFs from Copying and Editing

Go to the "Protect" tab, and click the "Encrypt" button. Then select the "Permission Password" option. Uncheck "Enable copying of text, images and other content" and enter your desired password. Once confirmed, click on the "Save" button to apply, and save your PDF file. 

protect pdf from copying with password

Now close the PDFelement program. you can open the PDF file on your browser to check if the protection is effective. You will find the Copy option is greyed out so that no one can copy text or images from the PDF file.

lock pdf from copying

Or you can check the document restrictions in PDFelement, and go to File > Properties > Security. You will see that Content Copying is not allowed.

pdf not copyable

Tip: Protect PDF from Printing, Editing with PDFelement

PDFelement can also protect a PDF document from printing or editing.

To protect PDF from printing, select the "Print Permission" dropdown menu. There are different PDF copy protection. 

  • "Printing is restricted on this file" - this means preventing copying from the PDF file.
  • "Low-resolution printing is restricted" - this means your document can be printed. However, it can't be printed at high quality. You can choose this option if your document contains sensitive information.
  • "High-resolution printing is restricted" - this means your PDF document can be printed at high quality.

To protect PDF from editing, select the "Changes Permission" dropdown.

  • "No changes are allowed on this file" - this means the highest level of protection. No modifications are allowed.
  • "Action Allowed - Insert, Delete, and Rotate" - this means pages in this PDF document can still be inserted, deleted, and rotated.
  • "Action Allowed - Filling Form and Adding Signatures" - this means your PDF file can be filled out and signed by others.
  • "Action Allowed - Comment, Filling Form, and Adding Signatures" - this means your PDF file can be commented on, filled in, and signed by other users.
  • "Page Extraction is Not Allowed" - means unauthorized users won't be able to extract pages from your PDF document.

If you want to protect your PDF from copying, remember to uncheck the option "Enable copying of text, images, and other content."

protect pdf from editing

PDFelement is the best tool for setting up passwords to prevent unauthorized access to your PDF files, as well as unauthorized editing, printing, or copying of the file. In addition, PDFelement can edit PDF files such as pages, colors, fonts, and images and can add watermarks. It has a built-in OCR feature that makes scanned PDF documents editable. This program can also convert PDF to other formats such as PowerPoint, Excel, Word, Images, etc. You can also create PDF files out of images, blank documents, HTML files, or existing PDF files.

Method 2: Protect PDF from Copying without Password

Convert PDF to Uncopyable, Image-based PDF

Another option for protecting your PDF file from copying is to convert the PDF document into an image, which can prevent others from copying without using a password. The content in an image-based PDF can't be copied.

  • After opening your PDF file in PDFelement, go to the "Convert" tab and then click on "To Image."
  • In the Output Format, select "Image-based PDF."
  • Finally, click OK to start the conversion. After the conversion, you'll get an uncopyable PDF file.

For further instruction, click the link to learn how to convert a PDF to an image.

protect pdf from copying without password

Protect PDF from Copying with DRM Software

If you are looking to protect your PDF, you need to stop the copy function. Most people think that the only way to protect their PDFs from being copied or edited is to encrypt the same with a password. However, passwords often come with their own set of problems. Owners often forget the passwords they assign to their PDFs. It also prevents others from viewing the documents as well.

Locklizard is an online tool that offers easy encryption of your document. This is done without assigning any password to remember as well. As a result, you can get your PDF encrypted and not have to remember any password to access it. The website promises the US government strong encryption protocols by which they safeguard user documents.

lock pdf from copying without password

Steps to safeguard DRM security are as follows:

Step 1: Log onto the Lock Lizard site. Choose to sign up for a user account.

Step 2: You can sign up for a trial subscription. Once you sign up, the software will be available for download.

Step 3: After the software is installed, right-click on the PDF you wish to edit. Choose Safeguard Secure PDF Writer software to secure the PDF.

Step 4: You can select which copy protection controls you wish to activate.

This software can help you edit a PDF file’s settings so that you cannot copy text, print, or take screenshots. You can set controls such that images or texts cannot be copied. It stops editing, copying as well and pasting new content. It also prevents the printing function from activating.

Method 3: How to Secure a PDF

PDFelement can not only help you to set a password and protect PDF but also enables you to protect PDF from copying by a digital signature, which is a mathematical scheme that can verify the authenticity of document content that was not altered in transit.

After loading your PDF file in PDFelement, click the "Protect" > "Sign Document" button to add a digital signature to the file. For detailed steps, please refer to the article about how to create a digital signature here. This is the method to protect PDFs from copying without a password.

how to secure a pdf

Method 4: Protect PDFs from Copying Online

1. HiPDF

If you want to protect your PDF from copying online, then the Hipdf tool is the best option. On their website, select the "Protect PDF" option to upload your PDF document, then enter a password to encrypt the file. This is the only step that you need to do to protect PDF files from copying and printing online.

make pdf uncopyable online

2. PDF No Copy

This is a useful online tool that allows you to upload any existing PDF document and disable the copy function. It is an online service that is free and helps add DRM or encryption to PDFs. DRM stands for digital rights management.

This software comes as a desktop application besides being an online service. If you frequently need to encrypt PDFs you can download them on your desktop. The software can help prevent plagiarism of your text. You can use nudging which helps influence people's behavior. This concept, first talked about by economists and Harvard professors, is about how certain actions can influence the actions of people, even their motivation and habits. PDF No Copy, by helping people prevent copying text from PDF, helps limit plagiarism. 

pdf no copy

Steps to do so using PDF No Copy are as follows:

Step 1: Log onto the site. Use the drag-and-drop feature to upload the file you wish to edit.

Step 2: Once you add the file to the main web page interface start the disable copy function.

Step 3: The disabling and encryption process is automatic. Once the function is complete, the file will be made available for download.

Of course, the software does have its limitations. For instance, it will not prevent people from scanning documents with the help of OCR technology. The small nudge or inconvenience of encryption helps prevent lazy people or those who are less apt in using technology, from trying to copy such text. 

FAQs About Protecting PDFs from Copying

Q1. How Do I Make a PDF Read-Only?

To make a PDF read-only, you can use Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor. Follow these simple steps:

  • Import PDF: Open PDFelement and import the PDF file you want to make read-only.
  • Set Permission Password: Go to the "Protect" tab and click "Set Password." Check the "Permission Password" box and enter a password. Choose the "No changes are allowed on this file" option under the "Changes Permission" menu, and untick the "Enable copying text, images, and other content" checkbox.
  • Save as Read-Only: Click "Save As" and save the PDF file to your preferred location.

By following these steps, you can easily create a read-only PDF using PDFelement.

Q2. How Do I Make a PDF Protected?

To protect a PDF file, you can use Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor. Follow these simple steps:

  • Open PDF File: Launch PDFelement and open the PDF file you want to protect.
  • Set Password on PDF: Go to the "Protect" section and click "Set Password." Choose whether to add a document open password or a permission password. Enter the desired password(s) in the respective fields. Choose the desired restrictions for this file.
  • Save PDF with Password: Click "Save" to apply the password protection to the PDF file. When you open or make changes to the file, you'll need to provide the password.

By following these steps, you can easily make a PDF file protected using PDFelement.

Q3. How Do I Protect a PDF From a Screenshot?

Protecting a PDF from screenshots entirely is not possible since screenshots can be taken using external tools or physical devices. However, you can implement measures to discourage or limit the effectiveness of screenshots. Here are two approaches:

  • Watermark: Add a watermark to the PDF document using PDFelement. Open the PDF file, go to "Edit" > "Watermark" > "Add Watermark", and choose either text, PDF, or image as the watermark. Customize its appearance and position. Save the file to apply the watermark.
  • Password Protection: Use PDFelement to protect the PDF with a password. Open the PDF file, go to the "Protect" section, click "Set Password", and enter the desired password. Choose the type of password (document open or permission) and set the desired restrictions. Save the file to apply the password protection.

By implementing these measures, you can make it more challenging for individuals to capture screenshots or access the PDF's content without proper authorization.

Q4. Can a Password Protected PDF Be Copied?

A password-protected PDF can still be copied, but the copying will be subject to the restrictions and permissions set by the password. When you password protect a PDF, you can specify whether you want to allow or restrict copying of the document's content.

For example, when you set the password permissions with PDFelement, you can check "Enable copying of text, images, and other content", thus users can copy the content. If you disable copying, users without the password won't be able to copy the content.

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Audrey Goodwin

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