Disable the Acrobat Reader5.0  "Save" button

Posted on 2001-06-07
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-04

How can I disable the "Save" button for Acrobat Reader5.0 ?

I want to find a different solution than using the option in the "Document Propertie" in Adobe Acrobat 5.0 that would allow me to remove the "Toolbar Menu" in the "User Interface Options". This possibility unfortunatly remove all the tools in Acrobat Reader 5.0. I still want visitor to be able to use the Zoom, page up page down etc... functions when they navigate my PDF pages.

I called Adobe and they said that I could use a third party program... they don't know any!?

Question by:protemplate
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LVL 19

Expert Comment

ID: 6167478
Acrobat Reader doesn't have a save button. You can't get rid of the Acrobat toolbar, the Acrobat plug-in is running in the browser and that's the only reason they can even see your PDF correctly.

The BROWSER save button does NOTHING -- it doesn't save the PDF. Nor does the BROWSER print button print the page correctly -- you have to print from the Acrobat toolbar.

If you want to grab a PDF, you have to either find it in the cache or right click on the link to it and use the SAVE TARGET/LINK AS option to save the file.

If the user does that, and has the FULL version of Acrobat, they'll be able to make minor changes and save the PDF with another name. You have no way to stop this.

If this is a proprietary PDF, my suggestion is to create the document with a watermark of some kind -- your company name, your logo, a 'property of' very large behind the text, etc. They won't be able to edit that out without major, major effort.

If you don't care how large the PDF is, print out the original document, and SCAN it back in, keeping it a graphic, not actual text. Then they can't copy the text out. It won't stop somebody from rekeying the entire thing, but if it's more than a page or so that's a lot of work -- and you have that problem with any document, whether electronic or print.

Copying/stealing work has been going on for as long as people have been publishing documents. If you can see it, you can copy it -- one way or another. Some are just easier. ;-)

Author Comment

ID: 6168911
Hi Webwoman:

Thank you for the long answer. Acrobat Reader does have a save button. Especially 4.0 , 4.05 and the 5.0 version. I am testing it every day on different machines. Maybe you are using the 3.0 version. Our members cannot view correctly our graphics with 3.0, for different reasons and it would take too long to explain here... Anyway, they have to install AR 5.0 otherwise they won't be able to open the PDF file with an older version because of the new 128 bit encryption.

We are aware of the Browser "save as" butom as well as the right click "save target as". This is already taking care of, with no "right click" , but also NO "Shift F10" and NO "CTRL + left mouse click" command and no cache.

The security in Acrobat Reader 5.0 allow you to disable "copy and paste" as well as other things. It also allow you to convert the document in jpeg automatically.

If a user has the full version of Acrobat Reader (like we do), they cannot modify the document, if the "Security Options" access is password protected. Otherwise it would be too easy.

All our documents will be watermarked.

We can remove the top toolbar of every pages and leave the bottom one, but that's not really convenient...

I guess we need to know is if someone know a 3rd party program that we could use... as Adobe suggested us.

There is not ultimate solution of course, but we may limit the abuses one way or another : )

Thanks again
LVL 19

Expert Comment

ID: 6169260
The READER does NOT have a save option. The FULL version does -- and the toolbar in the browser does NOT have a save option. You can't save a PDF that's open in the browser.
I just opened my Reader (4.0) to check -- no hint of a save button, not even in the Reader open as a stand alone.

As I said before the FULL version of Acrobat DOES have a save button, as well as a save as, under the FILE menu. However, the browzer plugin does NOT have a save option.

This is why you BUY the full version -- otherwise you can't make ANY changes to the PDF.

If it doesn't say Acrobat READER when you open it, it's not the Reader, but the full version. Don't install that -- download the READER only from Adobe's web site, and they won't be able to save any PDFs they open.

Unless this is going on a very tightly controlled intranet, you're not going to be able to stop people from grabbing and opening your PDF if they really want to. I can get around your scripts easily -- just turn off javascript and they don't work. You can't stop me from using the FULL version of Acrobat either -- you don't control my machine.

When you make the PDF, and in the FULL version of Acrobat, you have security settings you can enable. You can password protect the PDF, change certain settins, etc. That might be your best option.

If it's that proprietary, don't put it out on the web where anybody can get it -- put it in a password protected folder on the server, and control who can access it.
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Author Comment

ID: 6184413
Not sure what browser you are using, but we've tried IE 5.01 - 5.5 and we all see the same thing!?
Here is a screen shot of someone who does not have NOT the FULL version of  ADOBE ACROBAT but just the FREE ACROBAT READER 4.0  check here the 2 images:  


Can you see the "save " button? we were of course able to click on it and save the PDF file on the Hard Drive. This is just an example, I tried on different other machines that DON'T have the FULL PAID version of ADOBE ACROBAT 5.0, same thing.

Anyway, we are really only concern about the new FREE ACROBAT READER 5.0 and NOT about the older versions, since our clients will need to install the 5.0 version and unistall older ones in order to view our PDF files since we use 128-bit RC4 encryption which is now supported by Acrobat Reader 5.0. Otherwise, they won't be able to open any of our PDF file with older versions.
Here is the HELP note from Adobe Acrobat:
[  Note: Don't select 128-bit RC4 encryption unless the PDF file will be viewed   ]
[  exclusively by Acrobat 5.0 users. Acrobat 4.x and earlier can't open PDF files ]
[  saved with 128-bit RC4 encryption and instead returns the error               ]
[  "There was an error opening this document. This viewer cannot decrypt this document." ]

Concerning the security settings in ADOBE ACROBAT 5.0  I know already all the features as I already mentioned it in my last message. The files are already password protected in a specifc DIR on our server, and we control who can access them, but we want to make sure that files cannot be saved on the hard drive or floppy and then be shared on
different machines.

Thank You again for your answers
LVL 19

Expert Comment

ID: 6185420
I'm confused. You put it on the web and you're afraid of people sharing it? Then don't put it on the web.

If it's out there people can get it -- and you can't stop them. Whether I have a save button or not, I can force it to download to my machine by just deleting the file association for Acrobat -- and you have absolutely NO control over what I do on my machine.

If you want to restrict access to the file, use the SERVER security features to limit access to the folder. There are lots of ways to do this, and the user will be forced to login with a username and password before they can even GET to the file.

But if you don't want to do that -- you can't stop people from finding it in their cache, grabbing it any one of a dozen different ways (none of which you can stop) or once they have it, giving it to somebody else.

You put a password on it, so even if I have it I can't open if without that, correct? That's about the best you can do... other than limiting access on the server.

Author Comment

ID: 6186758
Our PDF files are outside the WWW Directory on a server i.e in a protected directory. Members need to have a username & password to view them. We use ASP.(Asp Coding and database )

LVL 19

Expert Comment

ID: 6188502
Then you've done about all you can. If the file winds up in the wrong hands, you have a limited number of ways it could have gotten there. You'd have the same problem with a paper document. Those can also get lost, misplaced, given to the wrong people, etc., etc. And you don't need a password once you've got a paper copy -- which could also happen, you know. Somebody could print it and hand it out. ;-)

Nothing is foolproof. Never has been, never will be.

Author Comment

ID: 6207668
I already knew the answers, and did not get the solution,
but thanks anyway. Gil

Author Comment

ID: 7020178
I did not get any anwser since
Date: 06/19/2001 11:16AM PST
I forgot to ask to delete the question.

Thank You

Accepted Solution

ComTech earned 0 total points
ID: 7020235
As per request, this will be moved to PAQ.


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