Non-Editable PDF From Illustrator?

dave bailey's picture

Ok, so I just realized all the "non-editable" PDFs I've been exporting from Illustrator (custom type work) are in fact EDITABLE? Even after unchecking the "Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities" option & "Create Acrobat Layers from Top-Level Layers" just in case. Am I missing something here? I tried looking it up, but people seemed confused or believe that the tick box actually does something. What's the deal?

Theunis de Jong's picture

You can edit almost any PDF with Illustrator, and presumably, the ones created by it are most compatible with itself.

The "Editing Caps" checkbox might add private info to some objects, such as the 'language' attribute of text, which isn't carried over in a regular PDF.

Jackson's picture

Don't convert the custom fonts to outlines.

dave bailey's picture

Theunis: Hmmm, that seems unintuitive. :-/

Jackson: It's my own lettering, not a font.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Unintuitive? Surely not?

I just tried -- typed "Hi!", applied "French:Canadian" (picked at random). Exported to Illy without "Editing Caps" selected. It opens the PDF without complaining, but the language was reset to the default. Exporting with "Editing Caps" got the original text & language back.

As I said, Illustrator can open almost any PDF and edit it. Unchecking "Preserve Editing Capabilities" does not prevent Illy from being able to open it.

I've never seen layers in a PDF and wouldn't know where to look for them, but I imagine it works in a similar way -- "flattening" the PDF without, preserving layers with the option checked.

riccard0's picture

I think that “Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities” is meant mainly for different versions of Illustrator.
You’ll need to create a protected PDF in order to make it non-editable.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Riccardo: yep, that ought to do it. That way, you cannot edit it with Acrobat Pro either.

JamesM's picture

Another option is to export in a bitmapped format like JPEG instead of a PDF, although that may not be appropriate depending on your situation.

Jackson's picture

What's the reasonig behind your edibility concern anyway?

dave bailey's picture

I want to post PDFs for people to look at and zoom in on the details/vector curves, but don't want them to be able to grab the actual paths. Perhaps I'm just being too paranoid, if it's on the internet someone can steal it. Period.

By protected PDF do you mean requiring a password?

dtw's picture

Hi Dave,

See below "Security" tab from Acrobat's Properties dialog. In Acrobat you can disallow any of those listed actions. I think you can also restrict printing to low-res. And you can set a password to get into the dialog that changes the security settings (so that people can't just un-set them). For your purposes you'd want to disallow "Content Copying or Exctraction" and possibly "Changing the Document".

timd's picture

When you ‘save as’ the Illustrator file as a pdf, to the left is a menu, go to Security and select use a password to restrict editing Security and Permissions, then select what you want to restrict or allow. Be aware though that this will not work with all pdf readers and, further, that if you allow printing one could create another pdf and extract from that – and don’t use “password” as your password.

Tim

dave bailey's picture

dtw: Thanks, I'll try this for future PDF sharing. :o)

dtw's picture

Tim: I remember that you certainly used to be able to bypass edit restrictions by printing to the distiller and creating a new PDF without the security settings, but I think they've fixed that in recent years (both discovered through necessary work-related attempts to do just that!). Mind you, I haven't tried re-printing these recent PDFs via a 3rd-party app, like PDF995, so don't know whether the protections are now strong enough to withstand them...

timd's picture

Dave: I just had a situation with a pdf, checked it on a PC – various options were not allowed, opened the same file on a Mac – no security at all. As I recall it is sometimes possible to use an older version of Acrobat to get round security and my night staff colleague has been able to crack passwords on recent files (don’t know the details).

So who can tell how effective security is?

Tim

dtw's picture

Hm, it is all a bit haphazard isn't it?
Just tried an experiment (all on PC, don't have access to a Mac): distilled a Word file using Acrobat 7 Pro, and set security settings of printing ALLOWED but all changing of the document DISALLOWED. Then opened the resultant PDF in Acrobat and tried to print it to PDF995: wouldn't do it; threw an error.
Open the PDF in some other 3rd party application and try to print to either PDF995 or Acrobat Distiller: in eaither case it now prints successfully, and the new PDF claims to have no security, but I seem to be unable to select and edit text. Quite random.

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