How to Save a PDF File As Read-Only

By Tom Chmielewski

To make a PDF file a read-only file, you adjust the security settings in the document using Adobe Acrobat. The settings allow you to prevent changes to document, printing, copying or extracting changes. You can choose a password security setting so that anyone can read it, but only someone with a password can change it. Other security choices restrict any access to the document to a select email list.

Step 1

Use Adobe Acrobat to open the PDF file you want to restrict as Read-Only. You can adjust security settings only after you convert a file to a PDF.

Step 2

Open “Properties” under the File menu. In the new window that opens, select “Security.”

Step 3

Select “Password Security” in the dropdown menu for “Security Method.” This is the simplest method to create a read-only document. A new window opens for Password Security Settings.

Step 4

Leave unchecked the option to require a password to open the PDF if you don’t want to restrict anyone from reading the file.

Step 5

Checkmark the option under Permissions to “Restrict editing and printing of the document.” Enter a password that will be required to make any changes in the file or its security.

Step 6

Select “None” in the drop-down options next to “Printing Allowed:” to prevent printing. Choose “Low Resolution (150 DPI) to allow low quality printing.

Step 7

Select “None” for “Changes Allowed.” Your other choices include allowing a viewer to fill in form fields and add comments with attached notes.

Step 8

Leave unchecked the option to enable copying of text, images and other content. Then click “OK.” In a new window, verify your password to enable the security settings.

Tips & Warnings

  • While the security settings are good for anyone viewing the document using Adobe Reader, Adobe warns it can't guarantee against third-party software circumventing the security.

References & Resources