By Megon VenterWed. 06 Sep. 20233min Read

How to Redact a PDF

This blog will delve into how to redact a PDF to ensure the security of sensitive documents by using best practice.
How to Redact a PDF

When sharing or publishing PDF documents, there might be occasions when certain information needs to be concealed from the final viewer. This is where the process of redaction comes in. By properly producing a redacted PDF document, you can prevent leaks of confidential data with our document management software.

This blog will delve into the best practices for redacting PDFs using our redaction software and address some frequently asked questions about security risks surrounding PDF redaction.

Megon Venter
B2B SaaS Content Writer
Megon is a B2B SaaS Content Writer with 7 years of experience in content strategy and execution. Her expertise lies in the creation of document management tutorials and product comparisons.

How to Redact a PDF on Windows

Discover how to protect sensitive information by redacting your PDF on your Windows operating system.

Step 1: Open Your File with our Document Management Software

Step 2: Use the Redaction Functionality

Image Source: PDF Reader Pro

Step 3: Save Your Redacted PDF Document

Ensure the color is set to black to cover your text. Click "Apply" to add the redactions to your file. 

Image Source: PDF Reader Pro 

How to Redact a PDF on Mac

Use our secure method to redact your original document using your Mac operating system.

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Step 1: Open Your PDF Document

Click "Open File" or drag the document into the drop zone. 

Check out our tips on redacting in Foxit.

Step 2: Use the Redaction Functionality

Video Source: PDF Reader Pro 

Discover our tricks for mirroring a PDF.

Why Redact?

Redaction isn't just about hiding information; it's about ensuring digital document security for legal purposes, healthcare documents and other company documents. Properly redacted PDF documents can't be searched, even with sophisticated software tools.

Imagine sharing unredacted documents like a financial report with external stakeholders and unintentionally leaving sensitive data accessible. The ramifications could be vast, from identity theft to the loss of business confidentiality.

Proper Redaction vs. Simple Obscuring

Many believe that using a basic tool to black out or cover text is sufficient for redaction. However, this method often leaves the original information intact underneath. For instance, copying the obscured text and pasting it into another document might reveal the hidden information. Proper redaction ensures the complete and irreversible removal of data from electronic documents.

"PDF Reader Pro stands out as a powerhouse—robust, adaptable, and economically priced. It has become the cornerstone of my document management, meeting a broad spectrum of needs with ease."
Theodore Cipolla
B2B SaaS Content Marketer
Source: LinkedIn

Steps to Ensure Security Through Redaction:

  1. Choose the Right Tool for Document Management: Not all PDF editors are created equal. Reliable tools like Adobe Acrobat Pro or PDF Reader Pro offer specialized redaction features. These tools not only conceal the information but ensure it's permanently deleted from the document.

  2. Redact Both Text and Images: While text is the most common form of data, images in a digital document can also contain sensitive information. Ensure your redaction process covers graphs, photos, logos, or any embedded media.

  3. Address Metadata: Beyond the visible content, PDF files contain metadata—information about the document's creation, modifications, authors, and more. Proper redaction should also include cleaning this metadata to prevent unintentional leaks.

  4. Verify the Level of Security Before Sharing: After completing the redaction, review the document thoroughly for personal details. Try selecting redacted sections or using search functions to ensure no trace of the redacted data remains.

  5. Maintain Document Integrity: Redacting should not alter the layout, formatting, or non-sensitive content of the document. The document should remain professional (as in the case of legal professionals or insurance companies) and intact, minus the redacted data.

  6. Save and Backup to a Separate Document: Always save the redacted PDF document as a new file. This preserves the original unredacted document and ensures you have a clean, shareable version without sensitive content. 


Discover our method for redacting text as confidential in PDF Reader Pro.

Best Practice for Redacting a PDF

  1. Understand the Importance of Digital Document Security: Before you start, recognize that simple methods like blacking out text or placing a white box over data won’t remove the information. Determined individuals can often retrieve the original. True redaction ensures the information is permanently removed.

  2. Use Dedicated Redaction Tools: Several professional PDF editing tools, like Adobe Acrobat Pro DC and PDF Reader Pro, offer built-in digital document redaction tools. These tools ensure that the original file data is securely and permanently removed.

  3. Double-Check the Digital Document: Once you've made your redactions, go through the document to ensure that all sensitive data has been redacted. Zoom in and out to make sure you haven't missed anything.

  4. Remove Metadata: PDFs often contain metadata, including information about the document's author, editing history, and comments. Use your PDF software to access and remove or redact this metadata, as in the case of legal documents.

  5. Save as a New File: Once redacted, save the document as new rather than overwriting the original. This way, you'll still have the unredacted version should you need document access.

  6. Test the Redacted PDF Document: Before sharing the redacted PDF, try selecting the redacted sections to ensure that no data can be retrieved. Also, consider sharing the document with a trusted colleague to verify that they can't access the hidden data.

"With PDF Reader Pro, the ability to convert, edit, and sign PDFs has never been more accessible and user-friendly."
Johan Müller
B2B SaaS Content Writer
Source: LinkedIn

How to Redact a PDF: FAQs

What is PDF redaction?

Redaction is permanently removing visible text and graphics from a document to avoid security risk. In the context of PDFs, it means obscuring or deleting sensitive information so it can't be viewed, accessed, or retrieved.


Is highlighting text in black the same as the redaction functionality?

No. Simply highlighting text in black can still allow someone with enough know-how to remove the highlight and view the information. Proper redaction tools ensure the sensitive details are irretrievably removed.


Can I export redacted PDF documents for free?

While there are free PDF editor tools available that offer redaction, it's crucial to choose a reputable one. Ensure that the tool you're using genuinely redacts the information rather than just obscuring it.


Is redacted information on a digital document retrievable?

If properly redacted using appropriate tools, the information on your original document should be permanently removed and not retrievable.

Can I undo a redaction once applied?

No. Proper redaction is a permanent action. This is why it's advised to save the redacted PDF document as a new file, preserving the original confidential document.


Redacting sensitive information from digital documents is a crucial skill in the digital age, ensuring that confidential data remains secure. By following best practices and understanding the ins and outs of blacking out text in a PDF, you can share your documents confidently, knowing that your sensitive information remains protected.

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