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Disable File Locking in Acrobat (Windows)

Explorer ,
Aug 17, 2017 Aug 17, 2017

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One of the most frustrating issues I have with Acrobat is that it always locks files it opens, even if I am only viewing (not editing).  Is there a way to disable file locking?  If not, it would be extremely helpful if Acrobat only locked files when in  "edit" mode or not at all.

The situation frequently arises where an application is outputting PDFs, the PDFs open automatically in Acrobat, but if we want to overwrite a file, we have to close it in Acrobat first. Working between applications, this locking can be very confusing for users.  Most PC applications do not lock files in this way - it is up to the user.

Thanks!

-Donald Newlands

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General troubleshooting

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Aug 17, 2017 Aug 17, 2017

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No, there is no way to disable such file locking. And for good reason ...

It isn't just a matter of whether Acrobat is editing the file or not. Acrobat doesn't read the entire file into memory at one time; PDF files can literally be gigabytes in size! If the file wasn't locked and it was deleted or changed while the file was open, you would end up with a situation in which Acrobat would not be able to count on the integrity of what it was reading (or unable to read) from disk. The alternative would have been for Acrobat to make a complete temporary directory of every file that it opens. That would be time and disk consuming.

Quite frankly, I'd be very wary of any applications that allow files that it currently has opened to be modified or deleted behind its back.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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Explorer ,
Aug 17, 2017 Aug 17, 2017

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Dov,

Thanks for your reply, but I disagree. 

As long as the file is not being edited, there is absolutely no technical need for Acrobat to lock it. I would rather have an error that the file has been deleted or modified and needs to be reloaded than a nanny file lock that prevents my applications from working together.

-Donald

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New Here ,
Sep 27, 2019 Sep 27, 2019

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Not to mention that Acrobat refuses to let go in a timely fashion. Not only this, but acrobat should NEVER lock a file just to create a thumbnail. Light touch only! if you're making a thumbnail and lose access to the file, so what, fail gracefully. Instead what happens? I get "file is in use and cannot be moved at this time" why? because I touched the file to select it to move it! this is just poor developer behavior! not impressed and this has been a problem for over a decade!

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 08, 2020 Oct 08, 2020

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I have to reboot my PC to be able to rename/move/delete a PDF file. It's ruined my workflow. I even tried to change PDF to open with MS Word and Acrobat still locks the file. The company I work for pays to license the full Adobe Creative Suite. Can you please advise a workaround for this problem?

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 08, 2020 Oct 08, 2020

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I have to reboot my PC to be able to rename/move/delete a PDF file. It's ruined my  workflow. I even tried to change PDF to open with MS Word and Acrobat still locks the file. The company I work for pays to license the  full Adobe Creative Suite. Can you please advise a workaround for this problem?

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New Here ,
May 20, 2021 May 20, 2021

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OK, go ahead and lock the file. But then release it when the application is closed. And when that fails (as it often does), could you tell us where Acrobat puts its lock files so we can delete them?

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 26, 2021 Jun 26, 2021

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Dov, seems like you're new to computer science and operating systems.  Many applications don't have to lock files as they can have temp copies, or give up if the file had changed it a way thaty the application could no longer read it.

It's only poorly designed applications (like Acrobat) that really don't care about "playing nice" that leave this mess where, say: I've looked at the PDF, I've discovered it's in the wrong folder, so I close the PDF, and I can't move it to the right folder because Acrobat is still holding the lock.

 

So Dov, please explain to us computer scientsts and operating system developers why Acrobot needs to hold on to a file lock AFTER Acrobat has closed the file?

 

Also, you're point about "I'd be very wary of any applications that allow files that it currently has opened to be modified or deleted behind its back", then perhaps you should try using this thing called the World Wide Web, which involves using Acrobat in a plug-in setting with partial reads to the webserver that do not lock the file (as per Apache httpd) when being read.

 

So it's ok to do a partial read and unlocked on the web, but not on my PC.

 

Truly, as a purported "Adobe Principal Scientst", you're really lacking a lot of technical knowledge about your product and how it works in application environments.

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New Here ,
Jul 12, 2023 Jul 12, 2023

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Well, if he has been an  Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021), then we know why Adobe is such a limited program that does not function like most applications in the Windows environment. Quick fix for me has been to do a Ctrl-Alt-Del, Task Manager, and End the Adobe Collaboration background task. You just have to move your file before Adobe Big Brother reloads its "Collaboration" program that determines what the user can and can't do with their own computer. Chalk one up for the "Ministry of Productivity". They picked the wrong side after reading George Orwell's 1984.

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Explorer ,
Mar 24, 2021 Mar 24, 2021

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The fundamental issue with Acrobat (and its associated processes), which has been present for many years, is that it does not correctly release file locks once a file has been closed. For example, generate a PDF file from any software and open it in Acrobat. Close it in Acrobat, try to rewrite that PDF, and your software tells you the file cannot be rewritten as it is already open, but it is NOT! However, go to Windows Resource Monitor's "Associated Handles" area, search for your PDF filename, and every time it is Adobe processes that are still holding the file open, even though you closed it. The only solution is to kill these processes in Task Manager, or close Acrobat altogether, every time you want to rewrite the PDF file! This is truly amateur and fundamentally bad file handling by Acrobat and its associated processes. It is the only software I have ever used that exhibits this serious error, and over many years as a technical writer it has plagued my productivity at the most critical times. Adobe: please listen and fix your badly written software; don't roll out more excuses.

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 24, 2021 Mar 24, 2021

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I ended up making a batch file and keeping it on my desktop. It kills all instances of Acrobat. Faster than having to pull up task manager every time. 

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New Here ,
Jun 14, 2021 Jun 14, 2021

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One item that I have noticed that is causing the "File Lock" problem, and also a folder lock issue, is the Adobe Collaboration Synchronizer background process. This process starts up anytime Adobe Acrobat is run and locks files and/or folders even if the file is use is no longer open or if Adobe Acrobat is shutdown. I've had to keep Task Manager open if doing repetitve tasks involving Acrobat so as to quickly shutdown the service and move/delete the specificed file or folder. Adobe needs to address this latent locking issue; there are times that the file or folder being affected are never released (unlocked) so as to permit moving or deleting of said file or folder. I've attached a pic of the tasks that are active that need to be shutdown (yellow highlights).

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New Here ,
Jun 14, 2021 Jun 14, 2021

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[Update] I've also found that the process Adobe AcroCEF locks files and/or folders. This, too, needs to be shutdown if trying to delete a file or folder that remains locked after Acrobat is closed. Picture of highlighted process to close is attached.

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New Here ,
Jul 12, 2023 Jul 12, 2023

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Gee Donald, you'd think that five years would have been sufficient time for Adobe to fix their issue. However, I guess they have been too busy complicating the functionality of the application, making it even less intuitive and more non-Windows compliant. Good luck trying to use the "New Adobe" that they will "upgrade" you to without your consent. They have even taken away the ability to create Text Boxes. It's sad when knock-off programs outperform the original product. Why pay for a product when the free one does a better job?

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New Here ,
May 31, 2024 May 31, 2024

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What if i forgot my password to unlock pdf file. how can i get password to unlock

 

 

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Adobe Employee ,
Jun 13, 2024 Jun 13, 2024

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Hi there

 

Hope you are doing well and thanks for reaching out.

 

Adobe does not store the user's password to open the PDF file. The best way would be to recreate the PDF file from the original source file.

 

~Amal

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