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How to prevent copying of PDF files

You can prevent users from copying text, images and graphics from a PDF file by modifying the document's security settings in Adobe Acrobat. This step can protect the document's contents and manage the distribution and use of sensitive information. You can stop others from using the copy-and-paste function and disable printing of the document. When password protection is turned on, only people who have the password will be able to modify a PDF file.

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  1. Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat 7.0 or newer.

  2. Click the "Advanced" tab on the main menu bar. Select "Security" and choose "Encrypt with Password." Click "Yes" to enable security setting changes.

  3. Type in an authorisation password. You can use this to modify security settings at a future date.

  4. Click "Printing Allowed" and select any printing options you wish to enable using the drop-down menu. If you want to completely disable printing, choose the default setting of "None."

  5. Click "Changes Allowed" and select any options you wish to enable, such as allowing form fields to be filled in or comments to be added. If you want to completely disable any changes, choose the default setting of "None."

  6. Click "OK." Users will not be able to copy any section of the PDF file.

  7. Warning

    You cannot prevent PDF copying in Acrobat versions older than 7.0. For a free trial of the latest version of Acrobat, please see the Resource section in this article.

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About the Author

Joanne Mendes

Joanne Mendes has been professionally writing since 2007 and began specializing in education topics in 2009. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master's degree from Chatham University.

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