Blog: PDF

There are times when I want to remove password protection from a PDF that has been "protected" from this type of removal. For example, if I receive a utility bill via email and the attachment is password protected. I'd rather save the bill so I can open at a later date without having to lookup the password. However, the utility company has protected the PDF and a different password is required to "unprotect" it.

I found that, if I open the PDF in a Chrome browser then print from the browser to a PDF, it will create an unprotected PDF.


I came across a few customers having trouble opening PDF attachments while in Quickbooks. The following message would be displayed, and sometimes it would be random.

"There is a problem with Adobe Acrobat/Reader. If it is running, please exit and try again. (523:523)"

The workaround to resolve the issue is to open Adobe Reader and uncheck "Enable Protected Mode" in the Edit -> Preferences -> Security (Enhanced) options.


I had a word doc with about 115 pages of hyperlinks that I was trying to save as a pdf. Word kept freezing up on me and I had a coworker try with the same results.   You can remove all hyperlinks in a Word document by using: ctril+shift+F9.  Once I did this and tried to save again as a pdf it worked fine.


I had recently upgraded Adobe Reader to version 10.1.2 and my printer would only print a blank page when I tried to print a PDF document.  The printer lights would blink, and all print jobs after that would not print until I physically rebooted the printer.  I thought there might be something wrong with the PDF that I was trying to print until it happened to me again with another file.

I came across a knowledge base article from Adobe last updated 1/25/2012, that gives a link to a patch for being unable to print at all, and it mentions that Duplex is set to “ON” by default after the upgrade. 

Unchecking the Duplex option allowed me to print successfully.  The patch may help others in troubleshooting print problems.  As Adobe Reader updates get installed on our customers’ PCs, we may have an increase in support calls.


I received some scanned PDF documents from a customer who had scanned them at high resolution. When I tried to use Acrobat to OCR the files, I got an error message stating the pages were larger than the 45" maximum. I was able to OCR the files once I printed them to individual PDFs (which put them into 8.5X11 pages).


Adobe Reader 10.0 is installed in a protected mode. One of the features of the secure mode is:

  • Cannot open PDF files whose source is DFS or NFS: PDF files in shared locations on a distributed  or networked file system (DFS/NFS) cannot be opened. Attempting to open such a file results in an error opening this document. Access denied."

The solution is to disable protected mode by completing the following steps: [more]

  1. Within Adobe Reader, go to Edit > Preferences > General and deselect Enable Protected Mode at startup.
  2. Restart Reader.

For more information, refer to the following Adobe KB article:


I think we all know better than to download executable programs (.exe's) from untrusted sources and run them.  Opening a Word document from an untrusted source could be dangerous.  Now, even opening a PDF file on a fully patched Windows machine with excellent, up-to-date anti-virus and malware software could cause your machine to get owned.

Didier Stevens, who has written some great PDF analysis tools, published a disturbing blog post the other day.  He demonstrates how to use an existing feature in PDF to execute a program on someone's computer when they open the document.  Adobe Acrobat Reader displays a message first, but the message can be changed to social engineer someone into clicking the Open button on the message.  And my favorite PDF reader, Foxit, does not even display this message.  Disabling javascript does not help. [more]

Here is the link to his article:

I downloaded his extremely simple example and in a few seconds changed it run a batch script instead of cmd.exe.  It looks it would be trivial to make it run any sequence of commands desired.  Depending on the PDF viewer used on other operating systems such as Linux or Mac OS X, this same technique will work there.

When using Google, one might consider clicking on Quick View or View as HTML instead of viewing the actual the PDF file.

UPDATE:  Adobe finally responded to this, explaining simply how to disable this feature.  This sounds like a good thing to do for most users.


A user was having problems opening Adobe PDF files from Internet Explorer getting an error that the file could not be found.  The file could be saved to desktop and then opened from there just fine.   From what I could tell, IE was trying to save the PDF file to a folder in "%Userprofile%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5".

From my admin account, I could browse to the user's Content.IE5 folder, but the user's account was not able to see or browse to this folder at all.  This was causing problems being able to save anything to Temporary Internet Files for retreival.  I checked the permissions on this folder and they all appeared to have sufficient access.

In order to fix this, the Temporary Internet Files for the user needed to be recreated.  This was done by going to Tools, Internet Options, clicking "Settings" under Temporary Internet Files, and selecting "Move Folder".  It will list the current location, so simply select the same location and it will recreate the entire thing. 

After this was done, the user could browse to Content.IE5 folder and save/open PDF files in Internet Explorer.


A client of ours frequently uses a web application to manage customer data and print various documents in PDF format. Users started to complain that they would try and produce a PDF document that was populated with unique costomer data, but there were 'strange words' (they were actually variable names) where the customer data should have been. Normally when our client clicked the "Print" function from within the web application, the webapp would open a new browser window, then opened a PDF  document with the cutomer info merged into a PDF form. This problem was happening only when users accessed this webapp from a Terminal Server session. A similar behavior was happening with a webapp on a different website as well (also only happening on the Terminal Server). [more]

To use this particular web app, the user has to have a unique certificate installed on their machine. Initially I thought that the XML data was not being retrieved properly due to a problem with the certificate, thus the PDF was being merged with an empty data set. After confirming that the certificate was in order, I spending a significant amount of time investigating the Permissions and Trust Manager settings within Acrobat Reader 7 on the Terminal Server. Editing these settings did not alter the behavior of these webapps.

About the time I was considering a re-installation of Acroat Reader on this Terminal Server, I noticed within Acrobat 7's "Internet" preferences a check box labeled "Display PDF in Browser". This option was checked (as it should have been) but I decided to toggle this setting off, apply, then toggle it back on, and apply. This restored the web apps XML-PDF form merging functionality. It appears that the PDF form was unable to access the XML data from the IE pop-up window that initially launched the PDF document. It is still unknown why this particular Adobe setting stopped being enforced (when previously it WAS being enforced). The broken functionality did not coincide with any system event. The web app techinal support team was unable to explain WHY this happened, but they did confirm that they had seen this happen before. The moral of the story... even if everything looks correct on the surface, that doesn't mean it really is.


We supply most of our electronic documents to customers in pdf format.  We also have been using watermarking documents as DRAFT during the write and rewrite process.  As we print word docs to pdf, the document becomes much larger (5 to 6 times bigger) as Adobe converts the DRAFT mark to a graphic on each page.  It can make it difficult for customers to print.

Using Adobe Acrobat Professional there is a feature that also allows you to create a watermark.  If you use Acrobat to create the watermark, the final file size is much smaller (less that half the size.  You find the watermark feature in Acrobat under Document in the Title menu.   There are several options.  You can input any text in the provided source box, click on “Fit to Page” and select color, transparency, etc.  Also, you can choose if you want the water mark to display on the screen, only when printed or both.