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In Acrobat X Essential Training, author Anne-Marie Concepción demonstrates how to create, modify, review, and share PDFs in Adobe Acrobat X Standard or Pro. Starting with a tour of the new panels-based interface, the course covers the basics of the software, such as creating and customizing PDFs, searching, editing text and graphics, and extracting PDF content to use in other programs. Also included are tutorials on creating forms, inserting interactivity and rich media, using the prepress tools, combining PDFs with other types of files to create customized portfolios, and ensuring document security. Exercise files accompany the course.
Here, we have a sensitive document, payroll information for our company. What I would like to do is protect it with a password, so that people can't even open it unless they know the right password. How do I do that? Well, I go to the Tools panel and I open up Protection. I'm going to choose an encryption method for password. So Encrypt with Password opens up. And I know that somebody's going to be opening this with an older version of Reader, so I'm going to keep compatibility at Acrobat 7 or later.
You could choose various levels up here. But if you choose Acrobat 10 and later, then you can encrypt it with the highest level of password security, 256-bit AES, which I think the last time I read would take 1,000 brainiacs working for 10 million years to try and crack. But this Acrobat 7 is fine at 128-bit AES. I think it will take them something like 50 years to crack. Which document components do you want to encrypt? Do you want to encrypt everything, or do you want to encrypt everything except from metadata, or only the file attachments and not the document itself? Notice that with this one selected, Encrypt all document contents, it tells me that all the contents of the documents will be encrypted, and the search engines will not be able to access the document's metadata.
So if you're going to be posting a PDF to the web, you want to pay close attention to this. If you had chosen Encrypt all document contents except metadata, that means that search engines could still find this. So if in your description or author name you're trying to protect that from the search engines, you don't want this PDF to be findable that way, then this will not help you. Instead, you would want to say all document contents, including the metadata. Now, you have two different choices. Do you want to require a password to open up the document? And I said that I did.
So I'm going to turn that on, and now I have to make up a password. This is a little strength indicator, telling you how good your password is. So as you probably know, a password should be a combination of letters and numbers and punctuation and case, but if I just type in say, "123", that's a pretty weak password. Easier to remember. You had to keep that in mind, because you have to remember this password. Seriously, if you don't remember it, you're never going to be able to open this up again, unless you hire like a 14-year-old hacker or something. So I'll go ahead, and I'll type in "123hello".
So now I've added text to it, and that makes it a little better. I'll just leave it at "123hello" for the purposes of this demonstration. So this password will be required to open the document. Let's see how that works. I'm going to click OK. It wants you to confirm that you remember the password, "123hello." Security settings will not be applied to the document until you save the document. After a while, you're going to get used this, and you can turn on Don't show this message again. I'll go ahead.
I'm going to do a Save As, and we'll call it "payroll-openpw." Then we'll close it, and now let's try to open it up. Oops! So you see if you don't know the password, let's try something, and try to open it. Sorry. Make sure the Caps Lock key is not on by mistake and try again. I'll just enter it for real "123hello", and it opens up.
Let's go ahead and change some of the password information so that not only can somebody not open it unless they know the password, but once they open it, they're not able to print it. Maybe you want to add more protection, or we want them to be able to be open it-- that's fine--but they can't print. So again, we go back to Protection > Encrypt. We want to encrypt with a Password. So we want somebody to require a password to open the document. That was "123hello," and then we'll turn this one on: Restrict editing and printing of the document.
So this is called a Change Permissions Passwords. See there are two different ones: Document Open and Change Permissions. So I'm going to actually give the same one to this one, "123hello". Printing Allowed? No. Or you could say only Low Resolution, or High Resolution is there. So if you want them to go ahead and be able to print at high-res, then turn that on. But actually we don't want them to print. Can they make any kind of changes? The default is no. You can change this to say, well, they can insert or delete pages.
So maybe you're sending out some kind of packet to sales reps. You don't want them to be able to change anything in there, but maybe there's information in there that's not material to them. It's for like a different territory. So you'd want to include that one, for example. Or they're allowed to fill in form fields, and they can sign existing signature fields. So maybe it's a form that want them to be able fill out. They can't change any of the other content in the form, and so on. You can also have them able to comment and fill in forms or they can do any kind of changes, except they cannot extract pages from it.
But I'm just going to say this one: they can fill in form fields. Do you want them to be able to copy text or images and other content? If you don't want them to, then leave this as is. If you say, "Okay, yeah. It's fine if they want to do that," then turn that on. And then Enable text axis for screen reader devices, usually people leave that on. That is so people with visual problems can still access the PDF. Then we'll click OK. What happened? Why, you cannot assign the same password for Document Open and Change Permissions.
That's what it's telling us. Oh! Sorry, about that. So we'll change this one to, of course, "hello123." There we go. Please confirm the Document Open Password. That was "123hello". You always get this dialog box-- after a while, you want to turn it off-- but what this is telling you is that not all third-party products fully support and respect these settings, so there may be other kinds of PDF readers that bypass security, and there's also some software that you can buy on various web sites, nefarious web sites, that let you crack PDF security.
So even though we're using a very high level of encryption, it's telling you be very careful and don't completely rely on this 100%. Okay, fine. What's the Permissions password? That's "hello123." That's it. Security settings will not be applied until you save the document, so I'm going to choose Save As > PDF, and we'll call this Open and Permission Password. Close it. And let's open that.
So to open it, we need the password, "123hello". Now it's opened. But if we want to print, it's grayed out. If we wanted to edit content, copy and paste stuff, we can't do that either. If you actually do want to be able to get in there, you need to go back down to Protection, and to remove the protection, you have to know the password to do that. That's how password-based encryption works in Adobe Acrobat.
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