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Sometimes when you are distributing PDFs or you're posting them to a web site, you need to remove sensitive information. Like, for example, maybe the point of this PDF is that I want people to see how many hours they're working. I don't really need people see what their wage is. So I'd like to remove all the wage information. Or maybe I need to remove people's e-mail addresses or phone numbers. Or if I'm working in the medical field, I have to go according to HIPAA regulations. Or I'm working for the Freedom of Information Act, and I have to remove information there.
It's a legal term called redaction, and that means just going through a document and actually removing information, making it impossible for people to ever see what was below there. Now, you could go through the entire document with maybe the Content tool, Edit Document Text and search for things and delete them, but sometimes it doesn't work, and sometimes it messes up the composition of the page. So instead, what you want to do is go to Tools, down to Protection, and work with these tools here, under Black Out & Remove Content.
These all have to do with redaction, and it's very simple to use. You start by choosing Mark for Redaction. And in case you forget how to start and what to do next, you get a little dialog box that reminds you there is really only two steps involved: Mark for Redaction, and Apply Redactions. Redactions are not actually applied until you select Apply Redactions here. So let's see how that works. Say that I want to get rid of Carol's wage in this PDF. I would just drag over it with the Mark for Redaction tool, and it gets this little highlighting around it.
Now, the reason it's getting that highlighting around it is because of the Redaction Properties. If I click there, you can see that I have made the outline color green. I believe that default outline color is this red color, and then the fill color is none. So the idea is that you go through a document and mark up the items that you want to redact, maybe proof it by somebody else, maybe somebody else has to okay that, then you can actually apply the redaction, and make those marked items go away.
Because after you do that and when you save the document, there is no going back. You can't resurrect those. Other Redaction tool properties that you may want to look at are, after you apply the redaction, what is the fill color of the redaction? Let's actually do that. So with this Wage marked, I'm going to apply the redaction. It says, "You are permanently going to remove all content that's been marked for redaction. Successfully applied!" Then we get a little dialog box for hidden information that we're going to talk about in another video.
So let me close that. This is what the redacted document looks like. Now, if you go to the Content menu and choose Edit Object and select this little black box, there is nothing underneath there. So the information has been permanently removed. It's a way for people to see that there used to be information here, but it's been obscured or hidden for whichever purposes you need it to. Of course, if you wanted to, you could make the fill color white, so it would sort of blend in with the background if that made a difference to you.
Let's look at another document that I have opened. We're going to redact some information from this newsletter. So it doesn't all have to be all legal stuff. I mean, sometimes if you want to put a newsletter up that was normally mailed out to members, you don't want to include people's home phone numbers, for example. So let me go to Protection and Mark for Redaction. We could do the same thing here. But let me show you an actual faster way. Let me zoom in a bit. You could have the Redaction tool combine with the Search tool.
That's what Search & Remove Text is. You'll always get a little warning that tells you the Search and Redact tool is wonderful, but if you have text that is actually an image that has not been run through Optical Character Recognition that's just a scan of text, this command will not find that text. In other words, don't rely 100% on the Search function. You probably will still need to flip through page-by-page, scanning for sensitive information to redact by hand. So you can say search for a single word or phrase. Like, for example, let's say that we want to search for something that occurs more than once.
We'll say technology, or just tech. Search and Redact. So it found four instances, and you can click here to jump there, just like a regular search would do. So it found tech inside ameritech. You can say Mark whole word(s) for redaction or Mark partial word(s) for redaction. If you choose that, and you can say Mark how many characters from the beginning or the end. So, for example, if you want to go through and delete the last two years, a four digit year, so it just says 20, and then the rest of it is blanked out. You could do that.
If you want to actually redact all these found instances, you need to check these off and then click Mark Checked Results for Redaction. To check them all, you just click Check All, and then it applies the markup. You can also do a new search, and instead of searching for a single word or multiple words, you could search for patterns, which is very cool. So, for example, you often need to remove people's e-mail addresses, or credit cards, phone numbers, and so on from this document. Let's choose Phone Numbers.
This pattern will search for 7-digit phone numbers, separated by punctuation marks, and any leading area codes. If you are from another country, you could choose a different locale for these patterns that would match the kind of phone numbers in your country. They have a few countries built-in here. It jumps you right to the Preferences for documents. Choose localization for Search and Redact patterns. But I'll leave it at US. Let's choose Search and Redact. It found these instances of phone numbers. So let's go ahead and Check All and Mark Checked Results for Redaction, and now go ahead and apply the redactions.
Yes, yes, I know I am about to permanently remove them, and it's all done. The last dialog box is asking if you wanted to find and remove hidden information in your document, which is down here, which I'll be talking about in different video. So actually, I don't need it to do that. I'll just say No. We are done with the Search, and now this document is redacted. You can verify it for yourself by going to Content, choosing Edit Object, and peeking underneath these boxes. Yep, it's there. So I'll press Ctrl+Z to put it back.
When you need to remove sensitive information from a document in a fast and efficient way, then all you need to remember is go to Tools > Protection, and use the wonderful Redaction tools built into Adobe Acrobat.
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