I was recently sent a document in PDF format for editing and revision. Unfortunately the author had protected the document from copying, pasting, annotation, page extraction – in short everything necessary to be able to edit the document on-screen. Since I was supposed to send the edited document back to the author, I knew it was unintentional.

The revisions had to be done quickly, so I decided to see if it were possible to get around the protection without a lot of work. A quick glance around the internet showed there are many utilities for sale that remove copy protection from PDFs, but I also recalled that a while back, Apple’s Preview.app used to ignore the copy protection settings. This was many versions ago, and since then it has started honoring the settings, but I hoped it might not be completely identical in its security to Acrobat.

Indeed it isn’t. Opening the secure PDF in Preview, I discovered it still allows copying, pasting the text into another application, and even better, if you simply print to PDF, you can resave the file as a non-copy protected PDF:

Select File > Print, then click the PDF button in lower left corner, and select Save as PDF…