7 Replies Latest reply: Sep 24, 2014 3:02 PM by shengbltzr RSS

    Making an editable PDF Form non-editable (a shortcut)

    HannahSDesign Community Member

      How to make a PDF form non-editable or locked.


      For those who aren't script-savvy, I believe this may be a little shortcut to editing a PDF form and then saving and sending it as a non-editable or locked PDF.


      This is what I have written out for my client, whom I provided an editable PDF Form, so they could edit the PDF and then send it out to their own respective clients as a NON-editable PDF.


      Instructions as follows:



      How to save your PDF Form into a separate non-editable PDF to send to your client: (Using Adobe Acrobat Professional)



      Step 1. Fill out the original PDF Form



      Step 2. Once finished, go to “File” menu and click “Save a Copy” - title the file appropriately and save it to the desktop.



      Step 3. Close the editable PDF document and do not save it (Saving it will save over the original file). Now open up the PDF you’ve just saved to

                          the desktop (you’ll now take the steps to make this file only non-editable).



      ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------



      Step 4. In the top menu, go to “Advanced” then select in that drop down menu “Security” then “Show Security Properties” - a ‘Document Properties’ window will now appear.



      Step 5. From this new window, select the “Security” Menu.  Set your ‘Security Method’ to ‘Password Security’.



      Step 6. A new window will appear named ‘Password Security Settings’. In this menu, tick the box that says “Restrict Editing & Printing of the document”

                  you’ll need to a) set a password for it,  and  b) In the ‘Printing Allowed’ drop down box, select ‘high resolution’   and if you want to, tick the

                  box that says ‘allow the copying of text, images and other content’



      Step 7. Click OK and Save the document. Now it’s not editable unless you have the password.





      Note: If you happen to want to edit the PDF at a later date, you can open the file and in the ‘Security settings’ menu on the left hand side

      (the menu is represented as a little gold lock) click ‘Permission Details’ then ‘Change Settings’ to revert everything back to an editable document

      - repeat the above steps to make it a locked document again.   

        • 1. Re: Making an editable PDF Form non-editable (a shortcut)
          Dave Merchant ACP/MVPs

          Thanks for your suggestions. You should also consider flattening a form if you want a non-editable copy; because the permissions password is not always respected by third-party PDF applications (for some people the form will remain editable, depending on what software they're using).


          Flattening a form can be done in several ways in Acrobat: you can run a script - this.flattenPages() - or print the PDF back to PDF (aka refrying), or use the Sanitize tool in Acrobat X. It also strips out hidden content associated with the form (button actions, field calculation scripts, etc.) so provides additional data protection. Sanitize is the heavy-duty option of the three; it will remove all hidden content, leaving only what you see on the page.


          One correction to your workflow - the Save a Copy menu item is not intended for creating a duplicate of a normal form, it's only available if the  form has been rights-extended and it serves to remove the extension certificate from the PDF (allowing full editing in Acrobat again). As your client is working in Acrobat they don't need a rights-extended version in the first place, and working with a normal form will make things simpler for them. In Acrobat X Pro you could create them a custom Action which automatically flattens the file and saves a duplicate, so they don't accidentally overwrite the original.

          • 2. Re: Making an editable PDF Form non-editable (a shortcut)
            HannahSDesign Community Member

            Hi Dave,


            Thanks for your insightful response. I'll see to amending this and using it in future. Being a beginner at

            Sending others PDF forms, i had difficulty understanding script functions and once I found what seemed to be an easier alternate I thought I might share!







            • 3. Re: Making an editable PDF Form non-editable (a shortcut)
              Gonterman1201 Community Member

              Man I wish there was a like button on this. Thanks.

              • 4. Re: Making an editable PDF Form non-editable (a shortcut)
                GKaiseril ACP/MVPs

                Try the "Was this helpful?"

                • 5. Re: Making an editable PDF Form non-editable (a shortcut)
                  GhostsOfCanton Community Member

                  If I understand correctly, the task is to take an editable PDF form and make it "static" - completely uneditable.


                  If that's the case, then instead of saving the file, choose Print, Select Adobe PDF as your printer and give it a new file name when prompted.


                  The newly created file will not have any form capability whatsoever.


                  Oh ... and make sure in the properties of any buttons you have on the form, make sure that you have selected "visible, but not printed".  That way your "non-form" doesn't look like a form!

                  • 6. Re: Making an editable PDF Form non-editable (a shortcut)
                    GKaiseril ACP/MVPs

                    Flattening a form is more than just making it uneditible.


                    There is the need for users to combine multiple returned form into one PDF and the password protection approach does not resolve the larger issue. Yes one would need to remove the password protection but when the forms are combined, then like named form fields will assume a common value. With use the "flattenPages" method for a PDF document, one can convert the form fields into the context of the PDF or placing the value of the form fields into the PDF and removing the form fields. Once this is done, the PDFs can be combined without losing the individual responses.


                    Flattening a PDF can also convert comments to the context of the PDF and prevent them from being edited or easily changed.

                    • 7. Re: Making an editable PDF Form non-editable (a shortcut)
                      shengbltzr Community Member

                      Making a PDF form with fillable forms static or flat


                      Open it in Photoshop and save it as PDF