Three ways to make PDF files read-only.

Stop people from making unwanted changes to your PDFs. Learn how to protect your documents in three different ways.

You often have to share PDF documents with others — but you may not want them to be able to make any changes to the files. Setting PDF files to read-only mode allows anyone to view them while preventing them from making edits. But how can you create a read-only PDF?

You can complete the task in many ways. Read on to learn how to make a PDF read-only using three different methods.

Use integrated read-only settings.

You can set files to read-only mode through your operating system’s basic tools. On Windows, just right-click your PDF and select Properties > Read-only > OK.

On a Mac computer, the process is a little more complex. Select the PDF and click File > Get Info. You can then set access rights under the Sharing & Permissions tab.

This is an easy method to protect your PDFs —but it can also be unreliable. Anyone with sufficient user rights could change the file’s status back to read-and-write.

Block changes with PDF editing software.

Most PDF editing applications have quick and easy tools for restricting editing. For example, in Adobe Acrobat, you just need to select Tools > Protect > Restrict Editing. Some editors lock editing with passwords, while others use program-specific settings to prevent it.

But this method isn’t foolproof, either. Some editing restrictions only work in certain applications and not others. If, say, a colleague uses a different editor, they may not even realize that the file is supposed to be protected.

Protect your PDFs with passwords.

Because of these issues, the read-only mode isn’t an ideal solution for fully securing your PDFs. If you need more protection, password-locking your PDF files is a better idea.

Granted, passwords aren’t a read-only solution — no one will be able to view your file without the password. If you’re looking for a quick way to show PDFs to others, read-only can be a better option — but for higher security, opt for passwords.