Removing PDF Restrictions.

Adobe’s PDF file format comes with the possibility to restrict the things you’re allowed to do with a PDF document. This has nothing do do with encrypting the document to keep unauthorized people from reading it. Instead, authors may want to disallow printing, modifying or copy&pasting parts of a document. It’s still possible to view the documents on the screen.

Apparently, on older versions of Mac OSX’s Preview, it was possible to just „Save as …“ a restricted PDF, the resulting saved file would be a PDF without restrictions. This was fixed, but the ColoySync utility still had the possibility to use the „Save as …“ trick. Apparently at some point, they fixed ColorSync as well.

As far as I can tell, the easiest way to print a restricted document nowadays is to use ColorSync to „Export …“ the PDF to a TIFF file, open the TIFF (it will be huge) in Preview and either print it directly, or print to a PDF. Of course, the resulting PDF won’t be searchable, but as far as I know, Adobe hasn’t come up with a „disallow search“ restriction (which no doubt, a lot of publishers would use) so you can search in the original, restricted PDF.

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