How to Remove Restrictions on a PDF File

Updated July 20, 2017

A PDF may restrict a user from performing certain tasks with a PDF file--like printing or copying text--if a password is set to restrict those features. If a user does not have the proper password, he cannot perform a restricted task. A PDF may also have restrictions if certain features are extended in Adobe Reader, such as allowing a user to fill in a PDF form in Acrobat Reader. Certain restrictions are placed on a PDF to enable extended features.

Check document restrictions by selecting, in Adobe Acrobat, "File" and selecting "Properties." In the Security tab, inspect the Document Restrictions Summary pane.

If a function is restricted, its property is set as "Not Allowed." If the feature is restricted because extended features are enabled in Adobe Reader, an asterisk appears next to the feature and a corresponding footnote states that extended feature are restricted.

To remove restrictions on a restricted PDF, open the file in Acrobat, click "File" and select "Save as Copy." Save a copy of the file in the appropriate location; the copy does not contain restrictions and does not have Adobe Reader extended rights.

If features are restricted but Adobe Reader rights are not extended, the PDF has a permissions password configured and the file is encrypted either with a password or a certificate. The Security Method drop-down box displays which method is used.

To change settings for a PDF encrypted with a password, select "Password Security" from the Security Method drop-down box and click "Settings."

In the Password Security-Settings dialogue box, uncheck the "Restrict editing and printing of the document. A password will be required in order to change these permission settings" checkbox. Click "OK" and save the PDF to remove the permissions password and save the PDF.

To change settings for a PDF encrypted with a certificate, select "Certificate Security" from the drop-down box and click "Next" in the Certificate Security Settings dialogue box.

Select the appropriate recipient of the document and click "Permissions."

Uncheck the "Restrict printing and editing of the document and its security settings" checkbox and click "OK."

Click "Next," click "Finish," and save the PDF to remove restrictions.

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About the Author

Jen Miller is a professional writer with over 10 years of experience as a technical writer, editor and proofreader specializing in software. Miller has written a number of materials, including software manuals, marketing materials, newsletters, website copy and style guides. She has a Bachelor of Science in technical writing from Carnegie Mellon University.