how do I prevent download or sharing of a PDF file

New Here ,
Aug 09, 2019 Aug 09, 2019

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If I want to link my PDF file so people can view it, but not share it, download it or even comment, how do I do that?  What Abode product will let me setup the way a Pdf document can be used for only viewing and nothing else, no download, no sharing, and no comments?

Thank you.

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Install update and subscribe to Acrobat

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Adobe Employee , Aug 09, 2019 Aug 09, 2019
Unless you host your own PDF viewer on your website such that the PDF file itself is not internally downloaded by whatever PDF reader the user has on their computer (i.e., your website displays a raster bitmap of the PDF content), there is absolutely no way to prevent the file from being downloaded and shared using Abode (sic) software.          - Dov

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 09, 2019 Aug 09, 2019

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This is not possible.

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Adobe Employee ,
Aug 09, 2019 Aug 09, 2019

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Unless you host your own PDF viewer on your website such that the PDF file itself is not internally downloaded by whatever PDF reader the user has on their computer (i.e., your website displays a raster bitmap of the PDF content), there is absolutely no way to prevent the file from being downloaded and shared using Abode (sic) software.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

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New Here ,
Aug 09, 2019 Aug 09, 2019

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Dear Dov, 

Thank you for the response. Please indulge me if I seem unfamiliar with certain terms..."host your own PDF viewer on your website" what does that mean, again?  My intention is to have PDF file on a page on the my website.  A viewer would click on a link and the PDF would open or is the PDF file open when the viewer clicks on that page?   The PDF file is from a Word document.  Can the Word document properties be changed to restrict access and then converted to PDF with those document properties?

Neil

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Adobe Employee ,
Aug 09, 2019 Aug 09, 2019

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Neil,

The issue is whether the PDF file itself leaves your website for its display. With conventional PDF viewers such as Adobe Reader or most if not all the web browsers with their native subset PDF display capabilities, the PDF file is downloaded to the viewer's system. At that point, you have totally lost control of the file. There is nothing you can do about that.

The only way you could apply the restrictions you want would be to somehow have a PDF renderer on your server showing the PDF residing on your server on the user's web browser screen. In that case the PDF file itself would not be transferred to the viewer's system, but only the visual display would be transferred as raster images on a web page.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

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New Here ,
Aug 09, 2019 Aug 09, 2019

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Dov,

Thank you for the information!  I appreciate you taking the time!  I'm understanding a lot more than before.  Again, thank you.

Neil

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Aug 09, 2019 Aug 09, 2019

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Of course, if you went to the trouble and expense of ”rendering” a PDF on your server, anyone can still save what they see. It just won’t be a PDF.

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New Here ,
Mar 19, 2020 Mar 19, 2020

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Thanks s much for your insight, could you please expantiate more on what you said, "PDF renderer on your server showing the PDF residing on your server". I feel this is what I have been looking for.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 19, 2020 Mar 19, 2020

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On the server use a app which converts the PDF pages into images. Then display the images.

Info: You can't use Adobe Acrobat for this.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Mar 19, 2020 Mar 19, 2020

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In other words, don't use PDF at all... And images can also be downloaded, of course.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Oct 19, 2019 Oct 19, 2019

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I recommend no one use this website. See my review of it here: https://community.adobe.com/t5/Acrobat/how-to-prevent-pdf-files-save-locally-or-forward-the-to-anyon...

In short, the protection it offers is easily overcome and it is not clear who (or what) is behind it, that you're giving access to your sensitive files to...

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Explorer ,
Mar 03, 2020 Mar 03, 2020

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Confused by all the "thats impossible" comments. Can't you just share on google drive and disable downloading? What am I missing? -billb

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 03, 2020 Mar 03, 2020

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When you disable downloading Acrobat Reader and Adobe Acrobat can't display the PDF file.

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Explorer ,
Mar 19, 2020 Mar 19, 2020

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It was not important to me that people use Adobe reader or actrobat to consume my content. I was trying to meet at need:

THE NEED:
Share the contents my PDF with select people, without allowing them to download, copy, or print.

THE SOLUTION:
Google drive with no download. It will display the PDF contents and not let them copy/download/print.

It's working great. I've been using it. I understand others may have different needs that this does not address.

-billb

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Mar 20, 2020 Mar 20, 2020

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I think you're wrong, but let's test it. Post the link here and we'll see if we can download the file or not.

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New Here ,
Mar 24, 2020 Mar 24, 2020

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Hello Bill!

 

I am looking for the same thing. I need to share PDF file for viewing only. I was so glad to find your solution but it does not work for all device. Sharing with google drive works only on computers. I have tested on my Ipad mini and I could save it to the Ipad and even transfered it by email. I wish it was not possible.

 

If you find another simple way, I am willing to try it.

 

Jocelyne

Sorry for my English, I am French!

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New Here ,
Apr 26, 2020 Apr 26, 2020

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Hi Folks,

I appreciate this discussion as it probably saved me a lot of time looking for a viewer for my website that would prevent people from downloading the file.  The suggestion above to convert to images that do not display or print well at full size seems good.  And I think a common method that may be good enough is to place an annoying watermark logo or warning on every page.

Michael

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New Here ,
Jun 10, 2020 Jun 10, 2020

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Jocelyne,

 

I suggest you use InDesign. This allows you to publish your documents, but they cannot be downloaded.

 

Liam

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 10, 2020 Jun 10, 2020

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Every published document can be downloaded!

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New Here ,
Jul 02, 2020 Jul 02, 2020

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Hi, could you please elaborate more on this?

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New Here ,
Jul 02, 2020 Jul 02, 2020

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How does Indesign prevent download? Is there a guide?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 02, 2020 Jul 02, 2020

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InDesign can't prevent download!

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New Here ,
Jul 14, 2020 Jul 14, 2020

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That is possible sir i'll show you provide me link

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New Here ,
Aug 05, 2020 Aug 05, 2020

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I am interested in this solution.   Can you send a pointer?

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 25, 2021 Mar 25, 2021

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I faced the same issues when I wanted to share a pdf in an elearning but did not want the users to be able to download it. What I did was use the Adobe Reader DC app to export the pdf as an html web page, then embeded it as web object in my elearning package. Worked as intended after publishing. Users can not download it. Hope it helps. 

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