revoke individual user access to single, multiple, or all documents
revoke access automatically after a number of views and/or prints
Add dynamic watermarks to viewed and or printed pages. Dynamic variables (date/time, user name, company name, email address) are replaced with actual user and system data when the protected PDF document is displayed and/or printed.
You only have to protect a document once in order to customize it for multiple users.
Have different printing rights for each user – i.e. grant printing to some users but not others
Control how many devices each user can view your protected PDFs on
Restricting PDF access to locations
Optionally lock users to locations – i.e. a country, workplace, etc. – so they cannot use protected PDF files outside this location. For example, you may want users to view protected PDFs on their mobile devices in the office but not at home.
Video guide: How to Restrict PDF editing, copying & printing
PDF Document Restrictions: restrict PDF editing, sharing, copying, download, printing, saving, copy/paste
How to restrict PDF access & control use
PDF restrictions enable you to stop users from editing and changing PDF files, copying and pasting PDF content, printing, and saving PDF documents into unprotected formats (i.e. with all PDF restrictions removed).
Original PDF restriction controls were designed when most of today’s PDF generation software was in its infancy, and some did not exist. And that is why the ability to restrict PDF editing and printing has become more sophisticated over time.
Domestic printing systems were often a dot matrix printer (remember those?) where high quality was not an option, nor was colour or graphics. The focus was not on how to restrict the number of prints available on a PDF, but getting it to work with all the emerging printing technologies. And laser printers were expensive in every sense for many years.
But all that has changed. Today making a high-quality printed copy of a PDF document is trivial, and every PC has a print screen key on it so you can get screen copies at the touch of a button.
Adobe PDF restrictions work through a dual-password system. There’s the open password, which you need to decrypt and view the document, and a permissions password, which is required to edit, print, or copy and paste from it.
This is a very flawed system. Any authorized user can share the view/open password with an unauthorized one along with the document. Meanwhile, because of serious flaws in the Adobe Security Handler, PDF restriction remover tools can strip PDF edit and print restrictions in seconds. Users can also bypass them by opening the PDF on a Mac or uploading it to Google Drive. See removing PDF passwords.
They are therefore completely useless and provide NO protection.
How does Safeguard PDF restriction work?
Locklizard Safeguard PDF protection uses a combination of 256-bit AES encryption, licensing, transparent key management, and a secure viewer application to restrict viewing, editing, and printing.
It does not use passwords at all which means they cannot be cracked or shared. Instead, it works like this:
You encrypt a PDF on your local PC and add any DRM controls you desire. These can include anti-screenshotting and copying techniques, printing controls, watermarks, device/location locking, and more.
A more secure and simple way to stop PDF access is to use a licensing control system that never exposes your keys so that users can’t share them. This is what Locklizard uses.
Restrict PDF sharing
If you want to prevent PDF sharing, you must stop authorized users from making copies of PDF files which they can then distribute. This can be achieved by locking documents to machines or devices so that when copied to another device they will not open.
The sharing of protected PDF files is of no advantage to users if the recipients do not have the keys that are required to open them.
Restrict PDF editing
To stop or restrict PDF editing, you need to control document functionality that users could use to edit text and copy/paste content. This is the core of any PDF DRM system – stopping the use of any functions that could allow someone to modify or copy content.
You may want to stop the editing of PDF content but still let users add and edit annotations and fill in forms. PDF document restrictions should be flexible enough to let you turn off all PDF editing or just allow annotation creation, editing, and form filling.
Restrict PDF printing – disable or limit prints
The easiest way to stop PDF printing is by controlling the ability of users to make printed copies (which users could scan or photocopy). PDF DRM software achieves this functionality by disabling all print functionality and outputting a print restricted PDF.
Sometimes, though, printing has to be allowed for operational reasons. As a result, Safeguard lets you enable unlimited printing or limit the number of times a user can print a PDF. If you enable printing then you might want to add watermarks to the print-out, either to make it difficult to scan or photocopy successfully, or to associate the name of the authorized user so that it is clear where the copy came from. See prevent printing.
Although users can take photos of anything visible on a screen, stopping screen grabbing prevents them from taking high-quality screenshots using software designed to do just that – see stop screen grabbing. You might also want to add watermarks to PDFs to discourage users from taking photographs of the screen with their mobile phone or a similar device.
Restrict PDF download
The ability to restrict PDF downloads from websites is pretty useless. Once a user has downloaded a PDF file they can distribute it to others as they see fit. What you need to stop is the ability of unauthorized users to open PDF files, and that is what a PDF DRM system does.
So don’t be taken in by sites offering to restrict PDF downloads – they don’t provide any real protection against unauthorized sharing and distribution of your PDF files.
Restrict PDF from being emailed
This is exactly the same as the PDF download issue. If you expect a specific email application to enforce this control, what happens if a user uses a different one? Even if you could stop a PDF from being emailed, a user can upload the PDF to the cloud and distribute it that way instead.
So again, it all comes down to restricting PDF access and controlling how keys can be accessed and used. A good PDF DRM system will lock PDF documents to authorized user’s devices, so that even if somebody emails them to others, they will remain protected and unopenable.
Restrict PDF files online
If you want to restrict PDF files use online (i.e. where they can be opened from) then you need to have the ability to lock PDF use to locations. You may want to restrict PDF files online, for example, if you have published a PDF document that should not be viewed outside certain countries or IP ranges.
When we talk about the ability to restrict PDF saving, this means preventing users from saving PDF files into unprotected formats (i.e., saving to unencrypted files and then removing PDF restrictions), such as converting a PDF to Word.
It is also important that if you do not create a print restricted PDF (i.e. you allow prints), the PDF DRM system will automatically disable print to PDF and stop printing to other file formats.
Having PDFs expire on a set date or after a number of days of use, opens, or prints lets you restrict PDF use to a limited amount of time. You can also use this to restrict access to a PDF after a certain date.
This may be important for documents that have a shelf life, or that need to comply with regulations. See PDF Expiry.
Revoke PDF Access
Revoking access to PDF files is a simple way to stop access to files that you have already distributed.
In conclusion, there are many reasons why you would need to prevent PDF access and use, but you need to make sure you use a PDF security program that:
provides effective controls
enforces those controls regardless of where PDFs are located
prevents controls being easily removed by third-party applications
FAQs – How to restrict PDF use
How to remove Adobe PDF restrictions
Adobe PDF restrictions are quite simplistic, with only the ability to prevent editing, printing, and copying/pasting. They’re also easily removed. Once a user has the open password (which they need to open the document anyway), all they need to do is:
Upload the document to an online PDF restriction remover
Enter the open password
Wait for the website to strip the permissions and permissions password
Download the modified PDF and edit it in any PDF editing software
Alternatively, they can just open your document on a Mac device, upload it to Google Docs, or open it in Microsoft Word.
This is because Adobe’s permissions work on a system of mutual trust – where it expects every application that can open PDF files to also adhere to its printing and editing controls. See remove PDF passwords.
How to print a restricted PDF
If you are wondering how to bypass PDF print restrictions, the answer is the same as above.
Removing print restrictions from a PDF file only requires the user to perform a quick search for an online tool and upload the document to that tool.
Restricting PDF editing without using passwords is simple and secure with Safeguard PDF Security. There are no passwords to manage or for users to enter.
Safeguard PDF Security uses a secure licensing system to lock users to PDF files. Decryption keys are securely and transparently delivered to the client device and stored inside an encrypted keystore, which is locked to the device to automatically restrict PDF sharing.
Unlike useless Adobe permissions, which can easily be removed in seconds, Safeguard PDF restrictions cannot be removed and are enforced regardless of where your PDFs reside.
See ebook security to find out how to restrict PDF books from sharing and misuse.
How do I stop a signed PDF from being printed or copied?
It does not matter here if you are talking about an electronic signature (an image of your actual signature) or a digital signature (one that is mathematically calculated). Both types of signature are used to identify you as the document signatory, and users can abuse both if they can edit document content.
How do I protect my signature in a PDF file – stop it being copied, printed, scanned?
To protect your electronic signature or signature image from being copied in a PDF document, you need to prevent PDF editing. This includes restricting PDF printing (to prevent your signature being printed and scanned) as weel as copy and copy/paste.
While a good PDF DRM system will stop users taking high-quality screenshots with screen grabbing tools, it is important to bear in mind that they can still take photos of anything displayed on the screen with a camera. Although the quality of a photo may be poor, it is still a good idea to use a background watermark with your signature on top (so that it is hard to remove from the background image) – some Moiré images may be useful for this purpose. See using document watermarks to deter copying.
Does a PDF digital signature restrict PDF editing & copying?
No. When you digitally sign a PDF document that just proves you signed the document. It can also be used to check if somebody has altered the document, but it does not stop users from editing PDF content or tell you what changes were made.
If you use a PDF DRM system to send protected PDF files to others, there is no need to digitally sign those files since it encrypts them (a modified encrypted file will not open), and you can restrict editing and printing and copy/paste so that users can’t make changes.
Does Safeguard restrict access, editing and copying of MS Office files?
No, we only restrict access, edting, copying, sharing and printing of PDF files. if you want to restrict editing or access in PowerPoint for example, then you have to convert your presentation to PDF format.
How do I limit PDF prints to once?
When protecting a PDF file In Safeguard Writer, go to the ‘Printing & Viewing’ tab and in the ‘Printing’ section check the ‘Allow Printing’ box and the ‘limit number of copies to’ box. The number you enter or select here limits the number of times the PDF can be printed. For example, if you set this value to 1, then you will limit PDF prints to once only for each user.
You can change PDF limited printing controls on a user basis even after you have distributed the PDF file. You can also protect a PDF with zero prints (so that printing is disabled for all users), but grant print access (and limit the number of prints available) to individual users in the Safeguard Administration System.
Can you restrict PDF editing for free?
While you can apply PDF password protection for free with online tools, the restrictions won’t be effective since they can be easily removed – and ineffective restrictions are worth very little.
With Safeguard PDF protection, you get what you pay for. Strong, modular restrictions that cannot be easily bypassed or removed.
How do I highlight text in a restricted PDF?
Locklizard Safeguard lets users highlight and comment on text using its in-built tools, even if the PDF is protected from editing, copying, etc.
Download PDF DRM software to restrict PDF access & use
Control document access and use with Locklizard PDF DRM security
Download PDF DRM software that uses US Government strength encryption and digital rights management (DRM) controls to restrict PDF access and control the use of PDF documents. Create a print restricted PDF or control the number of prints, expire PDF documents after a period of time or number of views, instantly revoke access, and stop copying, sharing, and screen grabbing.
Safeguard PDF Security and Safeguard Enterprise PDF DRM let you apply PDF controls to prevent PDF access and stop PDF editing, printing, copying, and saving. You can restrict and control access to your PDF files in one simple step. And, unlike Acrobat PDF restrictions (permissions), Locklizard PDF restrictions cannot be removed by password removal programs.
Locklizard doesn’t use passwords, plugins, or other insecure protection mechanisms, ensuring your PDFs remain safe regardless of where they are located. See our DRM technology.
We needed to deliver e-book versions of our handbooks while not compromising on security and digital rights. Safeguard PDF security is easy to use and intuitive.
The implementation was painless and we now have a greener, more secure way of distributing training manuals.
Locklizard’s PDF protection is exactly as described – the features are highly effective and I would give it 5 stars.
I would recommend Locklizard to others - their security is simple to use and fit for purpose. It meets common needs of businesses who have information they want to protect.
We would be happy to recommend Locklizard to any company needing a flexible way to secure PDF files.
Safeguard PDF Security has provided us with a very workable solution for sharing of information in a secure fashion. The support has been excellent and very accommodating.
We can cut accounts for a user five minutes before his class starts and he is ready to go. Happy smiling customer, while we still have security and personalized watermarking.
I have immense respect for the product and Locklizard provide great customer satisfaction and service.
We would recommend Safeguard to other companies for its security, cost and ease of use. It does what we expected it to do and more.
Ease of use is a bonus and the implementation was very easy. The product manual is excellent and Locklizard staff are very accommodating.
We sell a highly valued educational product in an open and competitive market so it was important to ensure we had effective security to protect our digital rights.
We highly recommend Locklizard - a professional company with a competitive and professional PDF Security product.
We would absolutely recommend both Locklizard as a company, and Safeguard PDF Security. It has transformed our study materials to the next level.
Not only did this increase sales, but we also believe that it has increased our customers’ ability to learn, which is even more important!
We would recommend Locklizard Safeguard to other companies that need to protect PDF reports. Customers have found the process of accessing the protected documents to be seamless.
Implementation was easy and technical support has been very responsive to requests for help.
Our company would without reservation recommend Locklizard. Their document DRM software opens up delivery of our new products in a timely fashion while knowing that the content will remain secure.
The return on investment to our company has been immediately evident.
We use Safeguard to make sure that documents cannot be opened outside our local network or from a unauthorized computer in order to copy or print the documents.
It is the most feature rich, affordable, & simple to use PDF security product on the market.
Safeguard PDF Security is simple to administer and meets our needs, consistently delivering secured manuals to our customers with ease.
Return on investment has been elimination of many man hours, printing resources and postage – it is estimated that costs decreased by 50% or more.
We would really recommend Safeguard PDF Security to every publishing company for managing ePubs or e-books securely. It is easy to secure PDF files and simple to distribute them to our authorized customers only.
Locklizard also provides a good customer support experience.
The ROI for us is incalculable. We have the security of knowing that our proprietary documents are secure. This is the entire value of our company.
I would most certainly recommend your PDF security product and already have. The ease of implementation was surprising.
We can now sell our manuals without the need to print them first, saving time, money and helping safeguard the environment.
We would recommend Safeguard PDF DRM – it is the perfect solution to sell and send e-documents securely whilst making sure someone cannot copy them.
We would recommend Locklizard to other companies without hesitation.
Their PDF DRM products provide a manageable, cost effective way to protect intellectual investment and they are always looking for ways to improve them. Moreover, their staff provide an excellent level of support.
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