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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 protect and prevent the content of your PDF document from being edited or copied.

Typically, when you save a document to PDF from (from Word, PPT, Excel,...etc.), the formatting is retained. With that comes with the content being copiable when it is in PDF format.

However, there are occasions where you want to lock a PDF from editing, i.e., for sharing/peer-to-peer reviewing. In this case, there are two quick solutions for this. Either scan a file as PDF or use a tool - such as ours, to protect the PDF file.

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 following page, click ‘to PDF’ in the lower right-hand corner.

  4. Click ‘Create PDF Now’, wait and download your locked PDF file.

lock pdf from editing

Jump from one tool to another

To summarize, this process first takes the PDF and render it into an image file - which effectively prevents the content of the PDF from being copied. The second step transforms it back to PDF format.

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.

The PDF library used by our platform assures . that the file compositions will be retained as you convert the PDF to other formats and back. The tool is free to use for you to directly accessible via the link above.

Encrypt with a Password


Alternatively, you can also go for the second 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 placed.

For fully protected PDF security, we’d also recommend to place a password and lock the PDF file from editing at the same time. Similarly, the tool to protect PDFs is also free to use, accessible via our homepage at any time, for you to use, one after another.

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 have to access the PDF Converter and save the PDF file into one of the three editable formats: Word, PPT or Excel. Afterward, you can use the very same tool again to switch it back to PDF.

Can I Lock Multiple PDFs from Editing?


Batch processing is not supported for both the image to PDF and Protect tools as of right now, unfortunately. The workaround this would be to merge your PDF into one unified document before locking them from editing. As with our other tools, the method to undo this process is through the ‘Split PDF’ tool, which is also available via our homepage.

Using Smallpdf for Work?


Smallpdf is the most popular online PDF software, and we currently cater to over 25 million monthly users, including a count of 100,000 businesses.

Regardless of your title, our aim was, or instead - and still is: 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.

To read what other professionals have said about our tools, check out our Capterra profile, where Smallpdf is currently the highest-rated PDF software online.

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 tool page. And lastly, we also have a short, how-to section in case you need step-by-step instructions on how to modify your PDF files. One can never be too careful. :)

lock pdf instruction

Step-by-step instructions

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, do head over and Terms and Privacy page.

Hung Nguyen
Hung Nguyen
Content Marketing Manager