PDF Sharing and Security

We just upgraded to Adobe Actobat 8 Professional for an upcoming project where we will be compiling a number of documents into an electronic (primarilly CD-based) journal and directory. Along with my registration of Acrobat, I received 30 days of free training via Lynda.com to help me get up to speed with the new features of this version of Acrobat.

Before gearing up to put together last year’s edition of this same project, I was not very familiar with all of the capabilities of Acrobat. I’d, of course, used the free Adobe Reader and have printed to PDF with the distiller function that came with version 5.0 but hadn’t done much else until working with 7.0 Pro.

Even with working on last year’s project, I only dealt with the sections of the program that I needed to complete the tasks. There was a lot of trial and error and trubleshooting to make the final product function to the client’s specifications. It wasn’t extremely difficult, but we had our share of challenges to work through along the way.

Upon upgrading to Acrobat 8 Pro and viewing the training videos, I was not only surprised and delighted by the new features that will make this year’s project go even smoother and allow the user experience to be all the more seamless (namely the ability to create PDF Packages!), but I was reminded of some security features that will be quite useful for other applications as well.

(To see what I’m working with, click here to download a PDF containing a number of images I’ve had as part of my NAPP Portfolio. – 6MB)

First of all, the security settings. If you are going to make a PDF available for download from your website or you will be sending it to someone to view samples of your work, you will want to make sure that your images are secure and someone won’t be able to simply copy your photos to their computer or print them without permission.

Go to the “Secure” button in Acrobat and select “Password Encrypt” and click “Ok.” You can look through the other options in the dialog box but the one we’re concerned with is the “Permissions” section. Here, check the box that says, “Restrict the editing and printing of the document…” and enter a password – and remember it! Select your desired print and changes settings (I picked “none” for both) and leave the box marked “Enable copying of text, images, and other content” unchecked. This way, viewers can’t download your images. When you click “Ok” you will be prompted to re-enter your password and told to save your document before the settings will take effect.

(Note: In the “Manage Security Policies” dialog you can create a preset if you plan to use the same security scheme a lot.)

If you allow users to print, or if you’re worried about someone swiping your images using the “Print Screen” function, you can add a watermark within Acrobat to add one more layer of protection.

Go to “Document>Watermark>Add” and in the dialog box, insert your text, setup the appearance options, and click “Ok.”

To combine these two security techniques, apply your watermark before you apply the security profile, otherwise you won’t be able to change the settings without removing the security settings and re-saving the file.

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