How can we prevent others (printing press) from reproducing our designs/layouts after we submitted our soft copy to our clients?

Until now, I only submitted hard copies, provided that we can easily submit via email the soft copy.

4 Answers 4


You can not. Its technically impossible and requires future tech that is not even available for the NSA (if it was then no edward snowden). You can however degrade the soft proof so that it is nonsuitable for use in print (export as low res bitmap). This does not stop some entities apparently.

So the real answer is you stop this practice by writing a contract. If you do not trust your clients then you should not have them as clients.

  • i trust my clients.. but sadly people change.. and worker on that position change too.. i just wanted to secure my efforts made on by creating and try to perfect the their format.. i just wish.. there are software like that of a time being set and will self destruct.. hehehe... btw.. thank you a lot guys.. if you happen to be here in the phils and in need of a printing press.. im here.. lets help each other.. god bless..
    – jeff
    Sep 16, 2016 at 16:55

Before sending your pdf to the client, go to: File > Document Properties > Security > Security Method: Password Security. Once you turn on Password Security, you have the option to restrict editing (none) and printing (none or low resolution). You can even disable copying of text, images and other content.

  • It's good advice but you should specify what software you're taking about (the question isn't about any I particular)
    – Cai
    Sep 17, 2016 at 17:36
  • Sorry, securing the pdf can be done using Adobe Acrobat Professional.
    – lgryfe
    Sep 17, 2016 at 18:46
  • Yes except if I can see the PDF then i can print it. So while its possible to encrypt a pdf its not possible to both let the client see the PDF and stop them for printing it. Yes adobe will not print a pdf flagged as nonprinting. But all alernate readers in existence will not heed this because in fact being able to view is same as being able to print. Think of it this way: All i need to do is move screencaptures around if that were not the case to sample the data at 600 dpi or more. Share == print no way around that. Yes you can do this but no help i can steal your data in less than 5 minutes.
    – joojaa
    Sep 17, 2016 at 20:37

Why do I get the feeling you want a James Bond file that self-destructs in a relatively small period of time after the user has opened it? [joke]

If you are having trust issues with your customers, you could [this assumes that you have a website] :

  • make your client feel important by giving him a client account on your website
  • tell him that this way he can have real time updates on your work
  • only show your finished layout proposal on that customer account

This way you may have some control and really make the image unavailable after 10-30 minutes after he logged in to see it. If you are lucky enough for your customer to use an updated browser you can even disable print-screens and right clicks but :

  • This may and probably will create conflict between you and your customers
  • Does not guarantee anything, even with modern browsers he can still use the Windows cut function or other software or even take a photo of the screen
  • Again, this will probably be a bad move all-together when working with people, it's like indirectly accusing them of something

Also, if you are interested in the Copyright perspective of things, you should probably check out my answer on How do web designers and companies copyright their work?


Export the layout/design not as an image but rather save it in pdf format. If you are using Illustrator, uncheck the Preserve Illustrator editing capabilities so that it can not be edited in ai as well.

  • I am using pdf, but how can i prevent others to use it? all i wanted is for them (to view) purpose only.. that they can not use it on press production.
    – jeff
    Sep 16, 2016 at 12:52
  • Why not export as an image? What protection advantages does PDF has over a JPEG, for example?
    – Luciano
    Sep 16, 2016 at 14:12
  • Do you mean to imply that an image [.jpg .png] preserves editing capabilities?
    – Alin
    Sep 16, 2016 at 15:28
  • it is a multiple page that is why i layout with indesign.. i finalize it to pdf. then upon proofing(hard copy).. i layout it again on illustrator for CTP pre-press reqt.. some clients are asking for a soft copy of my pdf.. i just dont like giving it away cause i did not even charge them with layouting.. i just charge them with the press and production only.. and layouting is pro-bono its just i cant stand printing with a pixelated text or improper format.. all i want if you(clients) are going to ask me to mass produce.. i will make it better on quality.. thank you for your quick response..
    – jeff
    Sep 16, 2016 at 17:06

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