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How to Lock a PDF from Editing or Copying

by Hung Nguyen

You can also read this article in German, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Italian and Portuguese.

The quickest way to lock and protect the content of your PDF document from editing or copying.

Typically, when you save a document as a PDF, the formatting is retained, which means there is the possibility of the content still being copied and edited.

However, there are occasions where you want to know how to lock a PDF so it cannot be edited, i.e., for sharing/peer-to-peer reviewing. There are two quick solutions: either scan a file as PDF or use a tool - such as ours, to make your PDF read-only.

How to Lock a PDF from Editing for Free

  1. To get started, go to this converter.

  2. Drag the PDF file in, click ‘Convert entire page’ and then ‘Choose option’.

  3. On the next page, click ‘to PDF’ in the lower right-hand corner.

  4. Click ‘Convert’, and then download your read-only PDF file.

Lock PDF

Jump from one tool to another

To summarize, this process first takes the PDF and renders it into an image file - which prevents not only editing, but also protects the PDF from copying. The second step transforms it back to PDF format. Locking your PDF is beneficial for many reasons, from sharing classified information that you want to be certain can’t be shared with additional people to making sure no one can claim your creative work as their own - such as a photograph of a cool dog in sunglasses.

If you are content with the file in JPG format, you can skip the last step and download the file instead of clicking ‘to PDF’. Either way, the new document will be ‘Read Only’ by the time you save it.

Can I Make the PDF Editable Again?


Smallpdf has Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to extract text from PDF files into editable format again. To do this, you’d just have to go to our PDF Converter and save the PDF file into one of the three editable formats: Word, PPT or Excel. If you want to switch it back to PDF after making your edits, you can simply go back and use the same tool again.

Encrypt with a Password


If you’re worried about others editing your file, you can also go for the additional option - which is to encrypt your PDF document with a password. Permission passwords created by our Protect tool are heavily encrypted, which would restrict viewing to those that do not have access to the password you choose.

lock pdf instruction

Step-by-step instructions

For fully protected PDF security, we’d recommend placing a password and locking the PDF file from editing at the same time. Both of the tools to protect PDFs are free to use, and are accessible online, and through our desktop and mobile apps, for you to use anywhere, anytime.

Can I Lock Multiple PDFs from Editing?


Batch processing is not supported for either the JPG to PDF or Password Protect tools as of right now. However, a way around this would be to merge your PDF into one unified document before going through the steps above. There is of course a way to undo this if you want to separate them again after locking the PDF from editing - just head to our ‘Split PDF’ tool, which you will find on our toolpage. Please note, if you want to split a password-protected PDF you’ll first need to Unlock it with your password - our encryptions are just too good!

Who is Smallpdf for?


Smallpdf is the most popular online PDF software, and we currently cater to over 30 million monthly users, including a count of 100,000 businesses. Regardless of your job title, or if you have a job at all, our aim is (and will always be): to make PDF easy. Whether you need to lock a PDF from editing, merge, split, or even sign it with an electronic signature, Smallpdf allows you to do all of this through a simple drag-and-drop interface. As we attract users from every corner of the world, we also have the site translated into 24 different languages. The language setting is available at the bottom right-hand corner of every page.

Are Files Secure Whilst Being Locked?


Smallpdf guarantees that your files are encrypted with SSL encryption in our protected environment while you upload, convert, and download them. These files are also removed from our AWS servers after 60 minutes. And lastly, as an ISO 27001 and GDPR compliant company, we warrant to follow every protocol to ensure the safety of your documents.

For more information about our company, head over to our Terms and Privacy page.

Hung Nguyen
Hung Nguyen
Content Marketing Manager @Smallpdf