I create educational products and sell at an online marketplace. I buy clipart and use this.

I create using Pages on my Mac, I then press Print, PDF, open in Preview, grab the thumbnail and combine each page to form a document. On completion, I export the document to PDF.

I am currently trialling Adobe Acrobat Pro and have followed the steps to secure the document. I have included a screenshot of security options I have set. I do save the settings and the PDF says by the file name SECURE. I then zip this with another secure file as I need to create my products in US letter and A4 so I zip together and then I upload to the website.

However when I have downloaded I can still lift the clipart. I have tried this on 3 different Macs and it still can be lifted. Does Adobe not work with Pages, does zipping affect the security issues or is it that I open on macs and they can override the security settings?

I have read somewhere that the Preview application overrides adobe security settings. I have not bought Adobe is there another PDF application for Macs that includes security settings I must lock the clipart or I am liable for copyright.

Adobe Acrobat Document Properties

  • 3
    I hate PDFs that restrict me like this. Please don't do this. I make a point out of purposely avoiding PDFs like this.
    – Alexander
    Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 23:29
  • 5
    "liable for copyright" are you sure? Why would locking a PDF protect you from copyright law?
    – Alexander
    Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 23:29
  • Couldn't someone just open your PDF, take a screenshot and then crop out the clipart? Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 2:26

1 Answer 1


Preview on macOS, like many PDF readers, don't care about these kinds of obscure restrictions on what you can and can't do with PDFs. If you're displaying content to the user, they can copy it, it's as simple as that.

Password protecting the entire file encrypts its contents, and password protecting printing can be followed by PDF readers including Preview, but apart from that all the other restriction types are worthless outside of Adobe Reader.

  • Thanks so much for your quick reply. So basically there really is no way you can completely secure the images in the document.
    – Annie
    Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 22:42
  • 1
    @Annie No, you can always extract the raw resources from within even without a PDF reader just by inspecting the PDF contents manually like a folder. Depending on what precisely you're doing, perhaps flattening some sort of watermark over the images would suffice?
    – grg
    Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 22:45
  • 1
    @Annie Acrobat Pro does have its uses, and what you're doing will stop some PDF software from copying the image, etc, but there's always a way around this if a user really wants to get a copy. And remember, in most cases people can just take screenshots if what they're wanting to do is get a copy of something displayed on the screen. It may be worth considering that using Acrobat Pro may help you still comply with your obligations as you're acting in good faith and taking reasonable steps.
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 23:01
  • Also, I'd be surprised if any free software PDF readers (e.g. Evince, which comes with GNOME) obeyed these sorts of restrictions.
    – SilverWolf
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 2:19

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