How to Make PDF Read-Only & Non-Editable?

Written By Mohit Jha
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh  
Published On April 4th, 2024
Reading Time 4 Minutes Reading

In the digital arena, it’s important to keep your PDF documents secure. If you make PDF read-only, it ensures that your valuable information remains safe. In this article, we’ll explore different methods to make PDF non-editable, allowing you to protect your PDFs effectively.

3 Simple Methods to Make PDF Read-Only & Non-Editable

Here are three methods to make PDFs unalterable using paid and free solutions. Keep in mind that these are all offline methods to get the job done. We do not recommend online means as you are going for privacy, but you have no idea how your document will be used after being uploaded to online servers. This itself is a contradiction to what users are trying to achieve by making PDF files read-only.

#1 Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat Pro offers a range of security options to make your PDFs virtually tamper-proof. Among them, it provides a built-in solution to make PDFs non-editable. Follow these steps:

  • Open your PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Pro.
  • Click on File and select Properties.
  • In the Security tab, choose Password Security.
    select password security
  • Check the box that says Restrict editing and printing.
  • Enter a password and confirm it.
  • Click OK and save the PDF.

Paid versions of Adobe are costly, especially when you have to pay on a subscription basis. So, if you are not a person who is professionally dependent on PDF, paying for Adobe Acrobat Pro just for a security feature is a waste. Considering this, we are introducing a free method below and a small one-time-pay method after that.

#2 Microsoft Word

If you have a Word document that you want to convert into a non-editable PDF for free. Here’s how:

  • Firstly, create a copy of your PDF file.
  • Now, right-click on this copy and select Open with >> Word 20xx.
  • Click on OK to let Word convert the PDF into a compatible format.
  • You can also convert the file beforehand from PDF to Word if you want.
  • Once open, go to File and select Protect Editing.
  • Then, choose Restrict editing and checkmark the opting on Editing restrictions.
  • After that, click on the Start Enforcing Protection.
  • Enter the password to confirm and click OK.
  • Finally, go to File >> Save and choose PDF from the dropdown format options and save the PDF.
  • The resulting PDF will be read-only and non-editable.

#3 SysTools Software to Make PDF Read-Only

SysTools PDF Lock Tool is an excellent choice to make PDF read-only and create non-editable PDFs.

Free Download Purchase Now

Follow these steps:

  1. Download, install and launch the software.
    launch the tool
  2. Then, click on Add Files to import your PDF.
    add pdf
  3. Click on Change to set a destination for your read-only PDF.
    change destination
  4. Check mark Apply Restrictions on the next window.
  5. Set Not Allowed for changes.
    changes not allowed
  6. Then, enter a password and confirm it.
    enter password
  7. Finally, click the Lock button to make the PDF non-editable.
    make pdf non editable

Here’s a video to help you.

SysTools also offers software when the user wants to convert read-only PDF to editable PDF file.

Important Tips to Keep in Mind When Making PDF Non-Editable

Users can keep in mind these important tips when making PDFs read-only:

  • Use strong, unique passwords for your PDFs.
  • Enable encryption for added protection in Adobe.
  • Set high encryption method in SysTools software.
  • Share the password only with trusted individuals.

Apply Other Permissions to the File

There are several other permissions that can be applied to PDFs. When you password protect a PDF, you can also apply these additional permissions.

  • Prevent printing or limit it to low-resolution output.
  • Restrict copying text or images from the PDF.
  • Disable extraction of the document.
  • Apply a password to access too file.

Final Thoughts

It is necessary to make PDF read-only to protect your valuable information. Whether you choose Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Word, or SysTools, these methods will help you secure your documents effectively. By utilizing password protection, encryption, and permission settings, you can ensure that your PDFs remain safe and intact. Protect your data and maintain document integrity with these simple yet powerful techniques.


By Mohit Jha

Mohit is a Microsoft Certified Expert who wears multiple hats as a writer, researcher, and editor. He's really into cyber security, cloud computing, and digital forensics. These topics get him excited and push him to go beyond just his job. His big goal is to create super well-researched and carefully written articles that help readers learn important technicalities.