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Top 8 Ways to Protect a PDF Document

how to lock a pdf file

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Published By Nilesh Kumar
Debasish Pramanik
Approved By Debasish Pramanik
Published On February 12th, 2024
Reading Time 9 Minutes Reading
Category PDF Tips

PDF files are widely used to share documents, reports, and other information across different platforms. One important feature of a PDF file is the ability to restrict access. You can protect a PDF document with a password or insert image signature in PDF to prevent anybody from opening the file, or you can limit certain actions like printing, editing, copying, etc. as per your choice.

In this guide, we will cover multiple methods to lock a PDF file from editing. Whether it’s about locking a PDF file from editing, copying, printing, or unauthorized access, you can find the best methods here.

Types of PDF Securing: Lock a PDF File from Editing

To protect a PDF document there are two primary types of PDF locking:

  1. Lock PDF with Document Open Password:

This is a type of PDF security where a password is required to open the PDF file. You cannot open and access the PDF file without knowing the correct password. This is a necessary step for the owner of the document to ensure that only authorized individuals can view the content.

  1. Lock PDF with Document Restriction Password:

This type of security password helps restrict certain actions on the PDF document. The types of PDF restrictions you can apply to your PDF files include:

  • Copying: Stops users from copying text or images from the PDF.
  • Printing: Restricts the ability to print the PDF document.
  • Document Assembly: Prevents users from assembling multiple programs and documents into a single PDF file.
  • Content Copying for Accessibility
  • Page Extraction: Prevents users from extracting the content of a PDF document
  • Commenting: Prevents users from adding, deleting, or modifying the comments in a PDF
  • Filling of Form fields: Prevents users from filling form fields in a PDF document
  • Signing: Prevents users from signing or approving the document
  • Creation of Template Pages: Prevents users from creating new template pages in a PDF.
  • Editing: Any changes that you make in a PDF file come under Editing. You can restrict all of such actions at once by locking a PDF file from editing.

Manually Protect a PDF Document

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC offers comprehensive features for securing your PDF files. Here’s how to lock a PDF file from editing using this software:

  1. Open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.
  2. Go to the “Protect” tab in the top menu or the Tools section.
  3. Choose “Encrypt,” and then select “Encrypt with Password“.
  4. Set the desired password and choose the restrictions you want to apply.
  5. Save the document to apply the password and restrictions.

Now, we will go through the methods to lock a PDF file from printing, editing, and copying using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.

I. Lock PDF File from Editing

Protect a PDF document using Adobe Acrobat DC:

  1. Launch Adobe Acrobat Pro DC and open the PDF file you want to lock from editing.
  2. Click on the “Protect” tab in the top menu.
  3. From the dropdown menu, select “Encrypt“.
  4. In the submenu, click on “Encrypt with Password“.
  5. Check the box next to “Restrict editing and printing of the document. A password will be required to change these permissions“.

Restrict editing and printing of the document

  1. Enter a strong password in the “Password” field. Make sure to use a unique and complex password.
  2. Ensure that “Changes Allowed” is set to “None” to disable editing in PDF file.

lock PDF file from editing

  1. Click “OK” and confirm the password when prompted.

confirm the password when prompted

  1. After setting the password and permissions, save the PDF file. The PDF file is now locked from editing. Anyone attempting to make changes will be prompted for the password.

II. Lock PDF File from Copying

Protect a PDF document using Adobe Acrobat DC:

  1. Launch Adobe Acrobat Pro DC and open the PDF file you want to lock from copying.
  2. Click on the “Lock” icon on the left side.
  3. From here, select “Permission details“.
  4. In the Security method, choose the Password security option.

lock pdf file from copying

  1. Check the box next to “Restrict…….” in the “Permissions” section (Copying comes under Changes Allowed, that’s why we choose this option here).

apply password security

  1. Enter a strong password in the “Password” field. Make sure to use a unique and complex password.
  2. Ensure that “Changes Allowed” is set to “None” to disable copying in PDF file.
  3. Click “OK” and confirm the password when prompted.
  4. After setting the password and permissions, save the PDF file. The PDF file is now locked from editing. Anyone attempting to make changes will be prompted for the password.

III. Protect a PDF Document from Printing

Lock PDF from Printing using Adobe Acrobat DC:

  1. Launch Adobe Acrobat Pro DC and open the PDF file you want to lock from printing.
  2. Click on the “Protect” tab in the top menu.
  3. From the dropdown menu, select “Encrypt“.
  4. In the submenu, click on “Encrypt with Password“.
  5. Check the box next to “Restrict editing and printing of the document. A password will be required to change these permissions”.
  6. Enter a strong password in the “Password” field. Make sure to use a unique and complex password.
  7. Ensure that “Printing Allowed” is set to “None” to disable printing in PDF file.

Ensure that Printing Allowed is set to None

  1. Click “OK” and confirm to protect a PDF document.

lock pdf file from printing

  1. After setting the password and permissions, save the PDF file. The PDF file is now locked from printing.

Also Read: How to bypass PDF print restrictions?

How to Lock a PDF File from Editing Online?

You can also protect your PDF file using several online platforms. One such example is Smallpdf. Here’s how you can protecting a PDF document from editing online:

  1. Go to the online website.
  2. Choose the “Protect PDF” tool.
  3. Upload your PDF file.
  4. Set the password and restrictions as needed.
  5. Click on “Encrypt PDF” to secure the file.
  6. Download the locked PDF.

Expert-Solution to Protect a PDF Document

The PDF Locker Software allows you to password-protect your PDF files in a few easy steps. It uses the familiar options of Adobe Acrobat which makes it easy to use and ensures that the Output file is compatible with Adobe and other PDF editors. The software is available for demo purposes to help you test the features. The demo version will lock PDF files but apply a watermark to them.

Download Now Purchase Now

You can use the software to lock PDF files with both document-open and permissions passwords. We have separated both scenarios into two sections for your convenience.

Instructions to Lock PDF Files with Document-Open Password

  1. Run the full version of the software on your Windows system.

Run the full version of the software

  1. Click on ‘Add File’ button to add one or more PDF files into the software.

add one or more PDF files

  1. Once the file(s) have been added, you can set the destination path to save the locked PDF.

set the destination path

  1. Check mark the “Apply Document Open Password” option to protect a PDF document with a password.

Apply Document Open Password

  1. Enter a password in the given boxes.
  2. Now, apply the encryption method to encrypt the PDF file. RC4x128 is the standard encryption that all PDF applications support.

apply the encryption method

  1. Click on the ‘Lock‘ button to start the process of locking the PDF file(s).

start the process of locking the PDF file(s)

  1. Congratulations, the process is complete. You can see the locked PDF files in the destination folder.

see the locked PDF files in the destination folder

  1. When you try to open the locked PDF file, you will get a prompt to enter the password.

prompt to enter the PDF password

Lock PDF Files from Copying, Editing & Printing Permissions

  1. Run the full version software on your system.

Run the software on your system

  1. Add the PDF files that you want to lock from copying, editing and printing using ‘Add Files’ button.

Add the PDF files that you want to lock

  1. After that, change the destination folder where you want to save the locked PDF files.

change the destination folder

  1. In the next window, click on “Apply Document Restrictions” and choose the “Not allowed” option from the dropdown list of Printing. This will lock the PDF files from printing.

Apply Document Restrictions

  1. You can choose “Not Allowed” for Changes to protect the PDF content from editing and copying.

protect the PDF content from editing and copying

  1. Finally, set a unique and strong password to lock a PDF file from editing.

set a unique and strong password

  1. Next, set the encryption type to encrypt the PDF file. RC4x128 is the standard encryption that all PDF applications support.

encrypt the PDF file

  1. Click on the ‘Lock’ button to lock the PDF files.

lock the PDF files

  1. Once the PDF files are locked, you can view them in the destination folder.

view PDFs in the destination folder

Also Read: How to remove permissions from PDF file?

Steps to Protect a PDF Document in Batch

Locking multiple PDF files simultaneously can save time. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC does not provide any method to do this. But, you can make use of PDF Lock software to process multiple files at once. Here is how the process goes:

  1. Download, install, and run the PDF Lock software on your PC.

run the software on your PC

  1. Click on the Add Files button and select multiple PDF files that you want to lock.
  2. You can also add a folder containing multiple PDF documents using the Add Folder button.

select multiple PDF files that you want to lock

  1. Once you have all the PDF documents added, go to the next window and apply whatever type of password you want to set to lock a PDF file from editing.
  2. Finally, click the Lock button to encrypt all the PDF files successfully.

click the Lock button to encrypt all the PDF files

Also Read: How to Unprotect Multiple PDF Files?

Best Practices for PDF Security

Now, to protect a PDF document effectively you have to follow these below-mentioned points:

  • Make sure that the password is unique and strong so that it is harder to guess.
  • You can keep a backup of your PDF files before locking them. It is always good to have a copy of the original PDF file just in case you forget the password.
  • Do not share passwords through insecure applications to prevent unauthorized access to your PDF files.
  • The latest versions of PDF editor applications provide better encryption methods, so keep them updated.
  • You can choose between multiple encryption methods in the aforementioned software to lock PDF file.
Author’s Suggestion

To safeguard sensitive information in a PDF file, you can lock it with a password. You can control how you protect a PDF document. It can be a password-protected file that allows only authorized users to open the document or lock a PDF file from editing that prevents copying, and printing. You can also lock multiple PDF files at one time using specified software. So, choose whether you want to use Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, an online tool, or specialized software to lock your PDF files.