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I have created a product catalogue using Illustrator and would like to distribute this catalogue as a PDF. I have saved each page from illustrator as an individual PDF and then merged the pages into one PDF file. My problem is however that all the images and and text can be individually selected on the PDF. The end customer will be able to click on an image and copy it and save it. They can also copy the text. aditionally, when an item is clicked the outline of the item is highlighted showing how i have cropped an image or that am image is lying under a text box etc. I have received many catalogues as PDF's before and the images and text appear as just part of a page and cannot be selected. Only a snapshot can be take and I am not able to click individual images or text. Can someone advise how I am to create such a PDF?

Many thanks

  • Hi craig, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your question. If you want to know more about the site, please see the help center or ping one of us in the Graphic Design Chat once your reputation is sufficient (20). Keep contributing and enjoy the site! – Vincent Aug 10 '15 at 10:56
  • I personally dislike PDF's without selectable text, if it's a product catalogue I want to select and google a product or a term, for example. Completely understand you want to avoid the highlighting of selected objects though. – HaraldCFS Aug 24 '16 at 13:03
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As suggested in Vincent's answer, the easiest is to convert your PDF to images and I want to post another method that is very quick to do it.

You could also lock the editing capabilities of your PDF but the rectangles around your images will still appear when selected.


Quick way to flatten or convert an entire PDF into images

1) Do your PDF a you normally do and export it the same way as usual.

2) Open it in Adobe Acrobat Pro and find the tool option for "Preflight"

3) In Preflight, create a new custom "fix up" by clicking on the top "Options" button

Options of Preflight in Acrobat Pro

4) Select the "Create new preflight fixup" option

Create new preflight setup

5) On the left side of this new window, select the option "Pages" to see all the fixups relative to PDF pages. Then select "Convert Page into Image".

You can select your image resolution on the bottom part of this page before clicking "OK". Your images will be converted to that resolution. I think It's better to leave it at 300dpi and optimize the PDF with the trick on the link at the bottom of this answer.

Convert PDF pages into images

6) Then simply select this new custom fixup, and click the "Fix" button at the bottom. The resolution should be the default one you chose and you can always optimize your PDF to lower its size because it will be heavier with all these pages converted to images!

Fixup Preflight to change PDF text and image content to non-editable images

All your pages are now images in your PDF!

You can use again this preflight fixup for your next catalogs; the custom fixup will be saved in your preflight options. You'll only need to open Preflight and then click the Fix button!

Here's a link how to optimize your PDF to lower its file size. Be careful when optimizing the PDF and selecting the right options; some will remove your hyperlinks if you have any!


To remove blank pages in Adobe Acrobat Pro PDF

Follow the steps above and select the "remove empty pages" in the "pages" or "fixup" sections.

Then save and use that fix-up on your file.

I think there's also a default "fix up" to remove them and you might not need to create a profile for this.

how to remove empty pages in a PDF

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If Jenna's solution isn't sufficient for you, you could try and flatten your .pdf. The easiest way to do this is to export each page as a hi-res .jpg, and re-exporting those as a new .pdf.

The .pdf reader won't recognise any object as an object anymore, since all are now pixels in a bitmap. No selection of text or images possible.

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You want to make sure that you are making a read only document. You can use Acrobat to do this.

Go to the security tab under file and it allows you to alter who can make amendments/if a user can fill in a form/ad comments etc.

This should solve your problem! :)

  • A sufficiently advanced/persistent attacker understands that read rights mean save rights (as its not possible to encrypt stuff so they can only be read but not copied, Hollywood would pay billions if this in fact existed). So using any of the available open source PDF viewer/converter like ghostscript should do the trick. – joojaa Aug 10 '15 at 11:51
  • Doesn't restricting the editing capabilities restrict access to individual objects though? – Jenna Aug 10 '15 at 14:37
  • No, if i need to paint them on screen i need full access to the object, ergo i can steal the data. There is just fully encrypted or then printing is available. Its not possible to have both viewable print preview data and non printable data. Its just a flag in the command stream. – joojaa Aug 10 '15 at 14:59
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    True but it at least would limit showing the outline of parts that have been cropped. Fair point though, this method may not be sufficient depending on needs (or the attacker that has you worried) in which case Vincent's is a completely viable option! The determined attacker would have to go to much further lengths (i.e copying raster graphics) to steal stuff. There is also the watermark technique as an extra secure measure but I reckon that's too much of a digression from the topic! – Jenna Aug 10 '15 at 15:08

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