You may have come across instances in which you are required to redact or remove sensitive information from PDFs. Whether your files contain personally identifiable information or business-related ones, such files must be redacted before they are suitable for public viewing.
If you do not want to end up distributing documents that contain sensitive information, here at PDF2Go we know of a simple way to help you out! In the following article, find out how to redact a PDF and how to remove sensitive content and private information from your PDF documents.
What is PDF redaction?
In electronic documents, redaction refers to the permanent removal of certain information. Depending upon the redaction technique, it is possible that the redacted information may appear to be blocked or hidden in the document, but the underlying protected information may still be accessible. That is why it is important to understand the difference between blacking out (highlighting - changing the background color of text) and properly redacting the document (removing the content completely).
The blacking out tool is commonly used to remove sensitive information in PDFs. However, while this approach makes it look like the document has been redacted, you should be aware that the text still remains in the document. Drawing black boxes on top of text by using PDF annotation tools obscures information rather than deleting it.
This kind of redaction is recommended if you are using the document and you need basic protection of your personal data. As an example, for the purpose of giving a presentation, when you want to hide certain sensitive content in it.
Why is the redaction of PDFs important?
In the last fifteen years, the growth in the search for the term "redact" clearly indicates a significant increase in the need to protect information. Data protection and privacy are important issues for any individual and for any business, nowadays. The consequences of a failure to edit the documentation correctly can be quite serious.
What makes PDF redaction an important service is a fact that many companies have to comply with public record requirements. Redaction allows you to protect the important information that is being shared with you, as well as customer data, the company's trade secrets, employee data, etc. Strict data protection regulations ensure growth in data redaction. The need for this service is only going to increase in the future.
If you need more security...
...and the ability to better protect your information within a PDF file, we offer a simple and quick solution! Our free online PDF Edit tool is extremely useful when you need to cover residential addresses, phone numbers, passwords, or any other kind of private information in PDF documents.
Select the Advanced Security option before saving your redacted text, and prevent others from editing a document or revealing potential hidden areas. Your redacted information will remain hidden and the rest of the document will not be editable. This optional setting will remove all traces of the content you have blacked out.
How can you redact the content in PDFs online?
Redacting a PDF with the Blacking out method
Blackout any information by drawing opaque areas over the certain content of the page. You can apply this kind of redaction to any part of your document including text, images, and graphics. Only the areas you select will be redacted.
How to Black Out content in PDF file:
- Open our online Edit PDF tool and upload your PDF.
- Choose a highlight tool from the menu above the preview.
- By opening the "Options menu" on the left, choose a stroke size and a background color (set it to black).
- Select sections that you want to redact.
- Click on "Save as", choose the file name, and confirm by clicking the "Save" button.
- Download your newly redacted PDF!
OPTIONAL SETTINGS: As previously mentioned, before saving your newly redacted document and for more security, you can select the Advanced Security option. It will prevent others from editing the document or revealing potential hidden areas, as all contents will be merged into one non-searchable layer.
- Redactions are not saved to the PDF document until you save the PDF file. If you apply an unwanted redaction, you can undo it or close the PDF Editor without saving it.
- When you save a PDF file with redactions, you are advised to use a different file name and indicate that redactions are applied to a document.
- You cannot undo the redaction directly from a regular PDF reader. Make sure to have a copy of the original document. Once redacted with our special Advanced Security option, the information cannot be retrieved.
Removing information from a PDF with the Whiteout tool
With our free online Edit PDF tool, you can also remove sensitive information. Simply use the whiteout feature to remove the content and replace it with white background.
How to remove sensitive content from a PDF:
- Open our online Edit PDF tool and upload your PDF.
- Choose a whiteout tool from the menu above the preview.
- Simply select the areas in the document you want to remove (text, image, graphics).
- Click on Save as and then on the Save button.
- Download your newly created PDF!
TIP: For more security, just like in the previous case, you can choose an optional setting: Advanced Security, in order to be sure that your redacted information is inaccessible to the public.
Can I make my PDF editable again?
Yes, you can!
There is always an option to convert your redacted PDF to an editable Microsoft format (Word, PowerPoint, Excel). Our online PDF converter is at your disposal! With the help of Optical Character Recognition (OCR), your „image“ document will be converted to text that can be edited, while your previously redacted text will remain inaccessible. Therefore, when converting PDF to an editable Microsoft format, do not forget to select the OCR option! Afterward, you can always save it back to PDF format.