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How to Make PDF Read Only with 3 Easy Ways

Business documents sometimes contain confidential information that transfers to a hierarchy of individuals. It could be catastrophic for the organization if someone steals or alters your PDF document before reaching the final destination. Obviously, no one wants to let that happen.

Before finalizing your PDF document, make sure to set your document to read-only PDF. It will ensure that no one can copy, edit, print, or scan its content. In this article, we'll guide you on how to make PDF read-only in three easy ways.

What is a Read-Only PDF?

Before going further, you need to understand the read-only PDFs in detail. A read-only PDF is one of the PDF's encryption types by which a user can only open and view the document's contents but can't exploit the PDF whatsoever. In this way, your documents will remain much safe and more secure.

Read-only PDF encryption is only applied to password-protected PDFs. That means only the individuals with the permission password can manipulate the settings of a particular PDF. Putting your PDF on read-only is not a big deal if you have the right tool. Yes, placing encryptions and other permissions settings requires a separate tool to do your work.

As we mentioned, a document requires a tool to set PDF on read-only mode. Although tools like Adobe Acrobat or Foxit Reader would do the job, we'd prefer UPDF over them. There are many reasons for choosing UPDF - it's free and includes almost every feature.

UPDF is among the sophisticated tools present today. You'll find every possible advancement compared to Adobe Acrobat and Foxit Reader. UPDF offers many features that enhance how information is presented and increase productivity. Some of them are listed below:

read only pdf

UPDF offers a variety of features, but here we'll discuss those that are relevant to read-only PDF:

  • Password Protect PDF: UPDF provides two types of encryptions, i.e., Document Open and Permission Password. These two encryption features offer extra security to your PDF document.
  • Annotation: UPDF also provides extensive annotation tools. By using these tools, you can add highlights, text boxes, shapes, and other elements to your PDFs.
  • Multi-Function: It's a multipurpose application. It's not only limited to viewing PDF documents; you can also edit your PDFs, convert your PDFs, organize pages, flatten a PDF, and much more.
  • Image Editor: Within the application, you can edit images easily. Image editing tools allow you to quickly crop, resize, copy, delete, and reposition photos.
  • Converter with OCR: UPDF also has the feature to convert your PDFs (and scanned PDFs) to other formats.

How to Make PDF Read Only?

Now, let's move on to how to make PDF read-only with UPDF:

Step 1: Open Your PDF Document

First, open the UPDF application on your respected device. After opening, open the PDF file you want to make read-only.

Now, click on the "Protect Using Password" icon on the right-side toolbar.

make pdf read only

Step 2. Choose the "Permissions" Option

You'll see different options in the "Protect Using Password" feature now. To make your PDF file read-only, you need to set a Permissions Password. So please click on the "Permissions" option.

save pdf as read only

Step 3. Make Your PDF Read Only Now

Now, you will see a new pop-up and type your password in the given text fields.

how to save a fillable pdf as read only

By default, by setting a Permissions password, you restrict the editing, printing, and copying from the PDF file. However, there's an additional customize feature below the password fields that don't allow anyone to edit, print, and copy the document. If you want to personalize your settings, click on "More Options" there, you can set the additional permissions for editing, printing, and copying separately.

Step 4. Save Your Read-Only File

Click the "Apply" button. And then you need to click the "Save" button to save the read-only PDF file you just set. You can choose the name and folder for it.

convert pdf to read only

Note: If you want to convert read-only PDF to editable PDF, you can refer to this article: how to remove password from PDF.

Video Tutorial on How to Protect PDF

How to Make a Read-Only PDF with Adobe Acrobat?

Making PDF to read-only in Adobe Acrobat is also similar to UPDF. Yes, you can also set restrictions on your PDF using Adobe Acrobat. Your PDF can be protected from manipulations and printings. All you have to do is follow the below steps:

Step 1: To save a PDF file in a read-only version using Adobe Acrobat, open the document you want to put on a read-only PDF.

Step 2: Now, open the document security settings by clicking on the "File" menu. In the "File" menu, click on the "Protect Using Password" option.

how to make pdf read only

Step 3: In the new pop-up, click the "Encrypt with Certificate" option under the "Advanced Options".

read only pdf

In the new window, choose "Password Security" under the "Security Method" drop-down list.

Step 4. Check the "Permissions" box. Select Printing and Changes permissions, enter the password, and click "OK". You'll ask to retype the password, re-type it, and click to save and close the file.

make pdf read only

How to Create Read-Only PDF Online?

There's another way to make PDF read-only without downloading any tool/software. Yes, you can set your PDF to read-only by using online applications. Web-based applications may be faster and easier than desktop applications, but they don't give you reliability. Moreover, they don't usually provide a secure connection. That means your documents are always at risk.

Here's how you can make your PDF read-only document online with Smallpdf:

Step 1: To make read PDF read-only online, visit the PDF2go Protect PDF tool.

make pdf read only online

Step 2: Click the "Choose File" button on the PDF document that you want to make read-only.

Step 3: After processing, scroll the page down and you can see there are options to "Set password to restrict permissions". Enter the permission password and repeat.

how to save a fillable pdf as read only

Step 4: Finally, click on the "Start" button to add the password. Then download the read-only PDF on your local device.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Making PDF Read-Only

Well, everything comes with its positive and negative points. Not a single thing in this world is perfect. You have to make adjustments to make it accessible. Sometimes you need to accept the good part and ignore the other part. And sometimes, you do the opposite. The same goes for technology. Every technology has its advantages and disadvantages.

Here we'll see the pros and cons of making PDF read-only;

Advantages of Making PDF Read-Only

  • Provides extra security to your documents and keeps unauthorized persons away from your record.
  • Only those who have the password can make the change in your documents.
  • No one can steal your content present in a read-only PDF.

Disadvantages of Making PDF Read-Only

  • In large companies, the documents pass through the hierarchy of people. If anyone left without having the permission password, they wouldn't be able to make the changes or print the document.
  • Read-only PDFs only work perfectly on Windows and Mac. If someone has a different operating system, it'll cause problems.
  • Forgotten passwords can lead to the permanently losing of your files.


Read-only PDFs increase security and keep unwanted people away from your documents. That's why you should always keep your records in read-only PDF versions. You already knew how to make PDF read-only in different ways. It's up to which way you want to go. For us, UPDF is the best option to start with. It's free compared to the expensive Adobe Acrobat and Foxit Reader and has advanced features. And it has a more beautiful user interface and easy-to-use experience.