8 Replies Latest reply on May 16, 2017 1:16 PM by Karl Heinz Kremer

    Mac: Flattening PDF - is it possible?

    little.schnitzel

      I'm trying to secure and flatten files to be sold on TeachersPayTeachers. They require that PDFs be flattened and secured.

       

      I've been doing research for about two days on this and no one seems to be able to give an answer. It seems to be possible on a PC but not a Mac. There's a lot of discussion about flattening and the different types of flattening and that if someone is determined to 'lift' something from your PDF, they're going to anyway...but no answers on the forums.

       

      The type of flattening I'm after is going to basically create one layer so that when you click on it, it doesn't select the square around an image. Or allow you to highlight text. Basically an image...except if I just save the document as images through PPT, the output quality through Office for Mac is woeful (Microsoft removed the ability to export 300dpi images with the later editions of Office).

       

      I followed this guide, but it didn't flatten anything on my PDF - Teacher Ink: How to Flatten and Secure Adobe PDFs

       

      I have tried Tools > Print Production > Flattener Preview. It does nothing but drastically increase the size of the file (I'm talking at least 100x the size). The images can still be clicked and their outline highlighted and text can still be highlighted. The file is too big to upload to the sites that will shrink the file size of PDFs (and probably also compromises the copyright integrity of the file).

       

      I realise that copying this can be stopped by securing the file against copying and changes and I have done this. However, terms of use say that I must also flatten it so that the images themselves can't be selected.

       

      This similar question didn't get answered. DRM is not needed - just flattening layers.

      How do I "flatten" a document in Adobe Acrobat DC?

       

      Hopefully someone can help!

       

      Edit: I should also clarify. I went into the Layers section and there don't appear to be any layers within the document. So I can't just merge them.

        • 1. Re: Mac: Flattening PDF - is it possible?
          Test Screen Name Most Valuable Participant

          That link fully answered the question, though I can see it isn't the answer you wanted.

           

          There's  lot of terminology in PDF that's different from other apps. In fact what you say you want to do isn't flattening, and doesn't involve layers (though if you were working in Photoshop that's exactly what it would be).

           

          Flattening is mainly used to mean  ONE OF

          * "flatten transparency so it isn't transparent any more". That's what the flattener preview does.

          * "flatten form fields so they are now a regular part of the document"

          * "remove all layers". PDF layers are optional and a way to make things visible or invisible. Nothing to do with editability.

           

          What you seem to want is "rasterising". Acrobat has no tools to do this. Consider opening in Photoshop and saving as PDF, if you really must do this terrible thing! Realise that Acrobat continually improves editing. In Acrobat DC, if it finds a page is a single big image, it will recognise the text and make it editable. Making rasterising pretty much pointless, just making a huge file with no protection.

          • 2. Re: Mac: Flattening PDF - is it possible?
            try67 MVP & Adobe Community Professional

            One small correction. You wrote:

            What you seem to want is "rasterising". Acrobat has no tools to do this.

            Actually, it is. It lets you export the pages of an PDF file as image files, which is basically what the OP needs, if I understood correctly.

            You can then re-combine those images into a "flattened" PDF file and add security to prevent it from being edited.

            It's bad practice, but it's possible.

            • 3. Re: Mac: Flattening PDF - is it possible?
              Michael J. Hoffman Adobe Community Professional

              try67 wrote:

               

              You can then re-combine those images into a "flattened" PDF file and add security to prevent it from being edited.

              It's bad practice, but it's possible.

               

              I agree that that it's bad practice, but to the point made by "Test Screen Name" above, even that resulting file will undergo text recognition and yield editable/copyable text when opened with Acrobat DC.

               

              Mike

              • 4. Re: Mac: Flattening PDF - is it possible?
                Karl Heinz Kremer Adobe Community Professional

                As you can see, "flattening" can mean different things. Can you share the link to the page that listed the requirements for uploaded files? When you rasterize the document, you will end up with a similar size increase you've seen with transparency flattening - or worse.

                • 5. Re: Mac: Flattening PDF - is it possible?
                  try67 MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                  I don't believe that's true if the document is secured and Content Copying is not allowed. That would defeat the entire purpose of having this options in the security policy...

                  • 6. Re: Mac: Flattening PDF - is it possible?
                    joes26459673

                    I was on the phone with tech support. She hung up on me in the middle of the call. 

                    I did learn that it's almost impossible (or impossible) to flatten a document on MAC. I have to literally print a document (one that is pre-made and I fill in fields), scan the document, save it as a PDF. I have to do all of that to have a flattened PDF.

                     

                    I cannot understand why it's so easy on a PC - they just hit "print to PDF" and it's impossible on a MAC. 

                     

                    I tried the preflight and it continues to give me error messages. 

                     

                    A workaround is to open the document in Preview and print it to PDF that way. That works sometimes.

                    • 7. Re: Mac: Flattening PDF - is it possible?
                      try67 MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                      What error did you get when you used the Preflight tool?

                       

                      It can also easily be done with a script.

                      • 8. Re: Mac: Flattening PDF - is it possible?
                        Karl Heinz Kremer Adobe Community Professional

                        Don't print a PDF file to PDF, this will in almost all cases create a lower quality copy of the original. you will end up with a different document than what you started with. Using the preflight tool, or via a script as already mentioned are the only true ways to flatten a file. You can find such a script here: https://www.pdfscripting.com/public/Free_Acrobat_Automation_Tools.cfm