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Batch encrypting PDF documents in Acrobat Professional

The other day a customer asked me how quickly apply some sort of protection to thousands of PDF files so that they could not be changed or printed. Challenge accepted I said. Here’s how:

Adobe Acrobat Professional


[step 1] Open Adobe Acrobat Professional. Then click File->Action Wizard->Create New Action

[step 2] Expand the Protection section and click Encrypt.

[step 3] Click the Options button on the Encrypt step and select Password from the dialog that appears. NOTE: You may also use a certificate, but this involves more steps I won’t cover here.

[step 4] Check the Restrict Editing… check box and specify a password (and confirm it). You can restrict both document printing and changes or either feature independently. NOTE: Changing the drop-down to NONE (as shown) indicates that the feature will be restricted…bad UI design. When finished, click OK.

[step 5] Click Close, then click Save and enter “Encrypt Files”.

You’re now done creating your Batch Action which can be applied to a single file, multiple files or an entire directory (folder) of files.

[step 6] Click File->Action Wizard->Encrypt Files

[step 7] Click Next and Add the files you want to encrypt. NOTE: you can Add a single file, multiple files or an entire folder of files. Then click Next.

[step 8] Click Next to begin the encrypt batch action on the files you’ve added. When Acrobat has completed your Action you’ll see a message stating that the process is now complete.

That’s it.

August 27, 2012

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9 comments found

Comments for: Batch encrypting PDF documents in Acrobat Professional

  1. Skip

    Awesome tip! Saved me at least an hour!

  2. Andy

    Which version/year is that? Mine is Acrobat Reader 9 Pro and does not have Action Wizard at all! :O can you help please?

    1. Post author: 
      David Vielmetter

      The version in this tutorial is 10 or X Professional.

      I don’t think standard has this functionality and I’m not sure where to find it in v9. Sorry.


    2. Post author: 
      David Vielmetter

      According to Acrobat 9 documentation, batch encrypting may be possible using a PDF portfolio File > Modify PDF Portfolio > Secure Portfolio…not sure how this would work since I don’t have Acrobat 9 Pro.


  3. beth

    I have Acrobat X Pro.

    I would like to take about 100 Word Documents and encrypt the doc with a password.
    It would have to be non-interactive process in a scheduled task.
    is there any command line executable to accomplish this task?

  4. Wesam

    I have locked the printing & editing for a batch but How to reverse it back for the whole batch?

    1. dvielmetter

      Great question. I assume you’d go through the entire procedure and select None for the security method.


  5. M

    Do you have any idea how can I do this on Acrobat XI? on X I had no prblem but on XI I can’t encrypt multiple pdfs

  6. joseph

    I would like to encrypt a batch of pdf documents each with its own password.How do i go about it?I am using the adobe acrobat pro

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