When I export from Indesign I would like to maintain a high quality (eg 300dpi resolution), but I do not want anyone can open with illustrator my pdf and can move objects like I was back in the indesign project.

There is a way to do this?

6 Answers 6


As far as I'm aware, other than password protecting the PDF (which can easily be circumvented), only raster-based PDFs would prevent easy editing of otherwise easily edited content such as text or vector objects.

Of course, even raster-based PDFs can be opened in an image editor such as Photoshop and manipulated as images. But in general editing raster-based PDFs can be much more of a chore than editing customary raster+vector based PDFs which InDesign and Illustrator both generate.

Simply, save or export the pages as jpg or tiff, then build a PDF from those images.

You can drag a group of jpgs to Acrobat to generate a PDF. Or use File > Create > Combine Files into Single PDF... within Acrobat Pro to generate a PDF from multiple images/files.

There's no way, which I'm aware of, from within Illustrator or InDesign to generate a raster image only based PDF upon output. Unless, of course, your document is entirely raster based.

Within Illustrator, you could select all and choose Object > Rasterize then save as a PDF. (Then undo to reverse the rasterization.)


You can easily restrict these things in the export dialogue under the Security Settings.

When saving as PDF, you can add password protection and security restrictions, limiting not only who can open the file, but also who can copy or extract contents, print the document, and more.

A PDF file can require passwords to open a document (document open password) and to change security settings (permissions password). If you set any security restrictions in your file, you should set both passwords; otherwise, anyone who opens the file could remove the restrictions. If a file is opened with a permissions password, the security restrictions are temporarily disabled.

The RC4 method of security from RSA Corporation is used to password-protect PDF files. Depending on the Compatibility setting (in the General category), the encryption level will be high or low.


Use A Password To Restrict Printing, Editing And Other Tasks Restricts access to the PDF file’s security settings. If the file is opened in Adobe Acrobat, the user can view the file but must enter the specified Permissions password in order to change the file’s Security and Permissions settings. If the file is opened in Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, or Adobe InDesign, the user must enter the Permissions password, since it is not possible to open the file in a view-only mode.

Source: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/indesign/cs/using/WSa285fff53dea4f8617383751001ea8cb3f-70c0a.html#WS8715A1ED-8C33-4cff-9ADE-3CDB1C6C707Fa

  • This way is with the password. But I want something like "flattened layers" like in Photoshop. Can you understand me? Not password...
    – ginolin
    Jan 20, 2014 at 12:15
  • I want something like "rasterize pages before exporting pdf".
    – ginolin
    Jan 20, 2014 at 13:53
  • The password will only show up for the editing option. The end result will be the same. The only other option you have is to open it in Photoshop and actually flatten it.
    – KMSTR
    Jan 20, 2014 at 14:08
  • I bought a password recovery program (<$50) so I can manipulate the content from locked PDFs.
    – Krista K
    Feb 1, 2014 at 0:06


I might have the answer for you. There are a couple of steps but what you're wanting can be achieved in InDesign. Be aware that it does bloat your files though (all image no vector).


  • In InDesign, go to Edit > Transparency Flattener Presets
  • Create a new preset and move the Vector/Raster Balance slider all the way to Raster
  • Change both resolution settings to 96ppi
  • Save


  • This is the part that makes it all happen, create a new rectangle object that covers your entire page, no stroke, fill white. Then make the opacity 0.
  • You can either paste this on every page or throw it into your masters, but it does need to be on top of all your artwork.


  • Export your PDF for print
  • In the PDF Export dialog box, choose Acrobat 4 for Compatibility (top right) and change your compression settings to 96ppi for colour and grayscale images
  • in the Advanced section under Transparency Flattener, select the new profile you created
  • Export

Put simply, step 1 tells InDesign that you want a flattener preset to convert everything to raster images. Step 2 is the catalyst, typically the transparency flattener only works on raster images placed into InDesign so what you're doing is forcing the flattener to work over the entire page by placing in an object at 0% transparency (don't worry you won't see it in your artwork). Step 3 then selects the flattener preset on export and sets the resolution of the raster graphics.

Take a look at the PDF after export, if you have Acrobat, click the Edit Text & Images (Pro XI) and you'll see that the flattener has chopped the entire page up into separate images.

You can also use this trick when protecting imagery in PDF's that you don't want pinched easily, it adds a lot more work to the thief.

You might have to play with the settings to achieve the quality you want but there's always a trade-off vs file size. This does what you need though.

EDIT Oh and if you're wanting total and complete security for your PDF, take a look at Certificate Encryption:

This self-certifies PDFs which for you and me means that no one can view/edit the javascript, layers, attachments, pages, text or images in the PDF. The only thing they can do is take a screenshot.



An easy way is to use Adobe Acrobat Pro to convert all your PDF pages into JPG WITHIN the PDF; this way you won't have to waste time assembling again your pages together.

You can create your PDF as you normally do in InDesign and then use the Preflight function in Acrobat Pro to convert all your pages to images by creating a custom profile for it.

Here's a tutorial with screenshots on how to do it:

Create a PDF from illustrator without being able to see the individual objects

Additionally, yes you can also add a security password that prevent any editing but this method above will flatten and rasterize all your vectors already.


My method:

  • Export all pages as JPGs from InDesign (high resolution, appropriate color space, including bleeds).
  • Create Data Merge friendly .CSV file listing all of the image filenames in one column
  • Set up new file with same page dimensions as original
  • Connect .CSV file to Data Merge
  • Create image frame spanning the bleeds of each page
  • Place image column from Data Merge source into image frame
  • Run Data Merge
  • Resulting file will have all the pages there, but as raster images
  • Export PDF from that file

Take all your final graphics, run them through pathfinder in Illustrator so there is no overlap... any manipulation will botch the doc. People could still grab shapes and export them, but if they simply try to manipulate the doc, they will leave holes in the background and such when they move something around.

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