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Shared Reviews with Secured Documents

One of my conference sessions at the Acrobat and PDF Central Conference 2009 was on Extending Features in Adobe Reader (the presentation for that session will be posted soon). In that session, I discussed the importance of the “file preparation order” in Acrobat 9 Pro or Pro Extended for shared reviews with PDF documents that also need to be encrypted or certified.

Firstly, the order is important.

  1. Encrypt your document, using password, certificate or LiveCycle Rights Management (née Policy Server) encryption methods.
  2. If needed, certify or digitally sign your file.
  3. Finally, send your encrypted document for email-based or shared review.

Secondly, you need to remember to give the encrypted document the right permissions.

If you are using password or certificate-based security, make sure the permissions allow for commenting…


If you are using Adobe LiveCycle Rights Management, make sure the policy includes “Collaborate” permissions for the users or groups who can access the file and participate in the review…


Why is this important?

In short, it has to do with the extended features for Adobe Reader that PDF documents enabled for shared reviews with Acrobat 9 Pro and Pro Extended (and Acrobat 8 Professional and 3D) will also have.

When opening these PDF files with extended features, also known as Reader Extensions, Acrobat will prevent changes to the PDF file, except for commenting (and form filling and digital signing if selected too). Therefore, you cannot encrypt a PDF document after you have enabled it for shared reviews (or just added Extended Features by themselves from the Advanced or Comments menus in Acrobat). The same applies for PDF forms that you distribute using Acrobat 9 Standard, Pro or Pro Extended.

Fortunately, Acrobat 9 will warn you if you try to encrypt a document that has already been enabled for shared review, forms data collection or extended features…


And you can see in the Restrictions Summary in the Document Properties dialog box that you cannot make changes to the PDF document…


Let me know how that works for you, and if you are sending documents for review securely.

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