I experienced a behaviour I've never seen before when opening, editing and saving a PDF today. As soon as save the PDF with Preview the file will be password protected, and I cannot open it again.

I've tested this on multiple files, but it seems to only affect files that have an "administrator password" set.

Test files from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency: https://www.forsakringskassan.se/wps/wcm/connect/b581c10a-8782-4c84-8448-4a469b85422b/fk7457-004-f-002.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CVID=&CACHE=NONE&CONTENTCACHE=NONE


Is this behaviour somehow by design? I've never seen it before, and at first I suspected that some kind of malware caused this. But now I'm not so sure anymore.

I'm using macOS Monterey 12.2.

  • I don’t have an answer but can confirm this behavior on Monterey.
    – Lars Br.
    Feb 7 at 21:00
  • Confirm this behavior in Monterey 12.3.1 too. This is ridiculous! Where is the password even coming from? Entering an empty password does not unlock the document. May 5 at 14:57

1 Answer 1


The pdf was created with security features enabled. Only the creator of the document would be able to change the security settings. The following screenshot shows what can and cannot be done.

enter image description here

  • I noticed that there was security settings that couldn't be changed without a password. But I've never before seen a file that will get password protected as soon as I re-save it. I also tested this on one of my older macs (with Big Sur), and there the files saved without needing a password the next time I opened them. Is this a new feature of macOS Monterey?
    – c3p0
    Feb 7 at 21:56
  • It's not that the new file is being password-protected; the original file needs the password in order to make any changes. The 2nd restriction listed above shows "Not Allowed". The "Content Copying" means that you can copy text from the document.
    – agarza
    Feb 7 at 22:01
  • That would make sense, but it's not what I'm seeing, hence the question. My new file definitely gets password protected. It's enough to just open the file, and re-save it to another location.
    – c3p0
    Feb 7 at 22:12

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