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Flattening PDF in Acrobat Reader

Community Beginner ,
Oct 02, 2017

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How do I flatten the layers in a PDF so the text isn't editable anymore and it just becomes one big image? I feel like this should be a really simple feature but can't find it anywhere?

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Correct answer by try67 | Most Valuable Participant

Convert the PDF to an image.

Create a new PDF from this image.

Add a signature field.

Apply a security policy that prevents changes to the file, but allows signing a digital signature field.

Digitally sign the new PDF.

Distribute the signed copy.

If anyone messes with it the digital signature will become invalidated and there's no need for "he said she said". If the signature is not valid, the document has been tempered with.

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Flattening PDF in Acrobat Reader

Community Beginner ,
Oct 02, 2017

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How do I flatten the layers in a PDF so the text isn't editable anymore and it just becomes one big image? I feel like this should be a really simple feature but can't find it anywhere?

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Correct answer by try67 | Most Valuable Participant

Convert the PDF to an image.

Create a new PDF from this image.

Add a signature field.

Apply a security policy that prevents changes to the file, but allows signing a digital signature field.

Digitally sign the new PDF.

Distribute the signed copy.

If anyone messes with it the digital signature will become invalidated and there's no need for "he said she said". If the signature is not valid, the document has been tempered with.

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How to, Windows

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 02, 2017

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This feature is not available in Reader.

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 02, 2017

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How on earth is that possible? Surely flattening is the most basic level of protecting content?

Is there another product that can do this?

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Oct 02, 2017

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Protecting content is largely a pipe dream but Acrobat can flatten form fields - not rasterise as you describe. If presented with a large image it will also analyse the image to find the text do it can be edited again.

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 02, 2017

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Ugh, Adobe being overkill as usual! In that case I need a different product that will just take the PDF and not try to turn it into an editable thing again. We need to send PDF invoices to customers which (for obvious reasons) shouldn’t be editable.

Alternatively, is there a way to save a print preview as a pdf or something? On apple it’s the easiest thing in the world but for some reason windows doesn’t seem to think it’s important?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 02, 2017

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lieselm39867114  wrote

...  We need to send PDF invoices to customers which (for obvious reasons) shouldn’t be editable.

...

This is impossible.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Oct 02, 2017

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How would you stop your customers from owning software that ignored your security? Instead of the impossible dream of "protection" look at digital signatures. But consider: if someone wants a fake invoice they can just make one. Your systems should detect incorrect payment.

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 02, 2017

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Well yes obviously if some genius thought it’s important enough they could get past, but at least don’t want to hand it to them on a silver platter. Especially if someone makes a change by accident and don’t notice it then it becomes a big “he said she said” issue because their version of the invoice doesn’t match ours. Also, being editable often screws up the formatting & layout and then it looks bad.

Anyway, the bottom line is we don’t want it to be editable, we want it to be sent as a single layer image. How do we do that?

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Oct 02, 2017

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Convert the PDF to an image.

Create a new PDF from this image.

Add a signature field.

Apply a security policy that prevents changes to the file, but allows signing a digital signature field.

Digitally sign the new PDF.

Distribute the signed copy.

If anyone messes with it the digital signature will become invalidated and there's no need for "he said she said". If the signature is not valid, the document has been tempered with.

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 02, 2017

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Thanks, that sounds like a good plan

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New Here ,
Nov 29, 2017

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We do this all the time by printing the filled-out form to a PDF. Just select Adobe PDF as the printer selection when you print the document, and it will ask you where you want to save the flattened PDF. You will then have two copies - the original editable PDF and the flattened one without editable form fields that you can send out.

I suppose someone with software could get in and edit it, but for everyday use this is unlikely, and we have never had anyone go through the trouble.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 29, 2017

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Users with Acrobat Reader only can't print to "Adobe PDF":

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New Here ,
Nov 29, 2017

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There are many free PDF printers available (such as doPDF) that are available. you just need to do a search for them.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 29, 2017

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I don't need this.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Oct 02, 2017

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Rasterise it. In Photoshop. They will hate you because many people use systems to scan the text in incoming invoices.

Personally I'd just set document security in Acrobat in the usual way. A lot of software ignores this but all the Adobe software respects it.

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New Here ,
May 28, 2019

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I know this thread is old but it still comes up in Google.

To flatten an image open it in Microsoft Edge, select print, set the printer to Microsoft print to PDF and save a copy to your HD.  I have found that this method does not work with Acrobat reader or internet explorer.

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New Here ,
Dec 29, 2019

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i find this so frustrating. the easy option is using pdf expert which allows you do just that. why won't adobe allow this is beyond me.

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