Adobe Software

How do I redact a PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro?

Redact a PDF
Black out: you can easily redact incriminating evidence!

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Scenario: you’ve been hired as Donald Trump’s 25th press officer. You need to release some documents to the press, but naturally you need to redact all the bits that might incriminate POTUS. You haven’t got enough black marker pens to hand. How do you redcact a PDF instead?

For this tutorial we’re going to use Adobe Acrobat Pro DC to redact a PDF – you can get a free 7-day trial of the software by clicking the link. Other PDF editors will offer similar features.

Lets’ get redacting…

Redact a PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Time needed: 10 minutes.

Seven steps to securely redact a PDF

  1. Open the document

    Open the document you wish to redact in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC in the normal way.

  2. Select the redact tool

    Click the Tools button in the top-left of the screen and scroll down to the Protect & Standardize section. Click to Add the Redact the tool if you’ve never used it before, then click Open.Redact a PDF

  3. Choose what to redact

    At the top of the screen, click the button that says Mark for Redaction. If you just want to redact individual lines or pictures, choose Text and Images. If you want to black out entire pages, select Pages. Or if you want to omit all mentions of certain words or names, such as “Donald J Trump”, click Find Text.Redact a PDF

  4. Highlight the areas you want to redact

    We’re going to redact certain parts of this financial document, so we’re going to choose Text and Images. Once you’ve done that, click and drag across any parts of the document you wish to redact and they will be highlighted by a red box. If you accidentally redact something you didn’t mean to, just click undo (Ctrl + Z on a PC or CMD + Z on a Mac).
    Redact a PDF

  5. Apply your redactions

    Once you’ve got all the redactions highlighted in the document, click Apply in the top menu. You’ll get a warning that all redactions will be permanent once the document is saved. Click OK. The areas you highlighted should now be replaced by black bars and another warning will appear on screen, which we’ll deal with in the next step.Redact a PDF

  6. Clear other incriminating evidence!

    The pop-up that appeared in the previous step will have asked you if you want to remove any other “hidden information” in your document. This can include metadata such as the document’s author, or any previous comments or amendments that have been made to the document. If you click OK, a panel will appear on the left-hand side of the screen listing any such information. Select any information you wish to expunge from the document and click Remove.Remove hidden information

  7. Save your redacted document

    The final step is to save your redacted document. Click File, Save As and choose a destination of where to save the document. Acrobat will by default save the file with the original file name with ‘Redacted’ appended to the end. This helps ensure you distribute the right version of the file. You can, of course, change the file name to whatever you like. And that’s the job done!Redacted file save

NOW READ THIS: What’s the best way to convert a Word doc to PDF?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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