How to remove and redact sensitive information from PDF files using Acrobat XI

Learn how to delete sensitive information or remove hidden information from a PDF using Acrobat XI.

By Lisa Croft – September 7, 2012


In this tutorial, learn how to protect PDF by deleting sensitive information or removing hidden information from a PDF. The redaction and sanitization tools in Acrobat XI enable you to quickly and permanently delete or redact sensitive information from your PDF files, including remove hidden data.

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How to remove and redact sensitive information from PDF files using Acrobat XI

Lisa Croft – September 7, 2012

Acrobat XI Pro lets you quickly remove hidden information from a PDF so that you can distribute your file knowing that that your confidential data doesn't get revealed to others. This is done using redaction tools. Within Acrobat, I'll just select tools, then protection, then mark for redaction. And I'll walk through the document selecting the text or image information that I want to remove. I can also select search and remove text to automatically find and redact words, such as repeating text or patterns, like email addresses. I'll click search and remove, select the information that I want to remove and mark those for redaction as well. When I'm finished, I'll click apply redactions and my visible content is permanently removed. But what about that information that's not easily visible, like document properties, attachments or stored form data? Acrobat XI Pro will prompt me to remove that hidden information. Acrobat will scan through the document and allow me to review what's been identified. When you're ready, select remove and you're done. The visible and invisible sensitive information has been permanently deleted. With Acrobat XI Pro, you can easily redact and sanitize files so you can distribute them with confidence.

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Products covered:

Acrobat XI

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Protect PDFs

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Comments for this tutorial are now closed.

Lori Kassuba

3, 2016-03-02 02, 2016

Hi marie,

Redaction is not part of the free Reader. You’ll only find it when using Acrobat Pro.
Perhaps you turned on some commenting features. Try looking under Edit > Preferences > Commenting.



9, 2016-03-01 01, 2016

I have accidentally turned on redaction in reader v10.1.2
I was trying to print comments details along with pdf

Somehow it’s redacting every pdf I open and I’m afraid to open
any more. 
I’ve gone to edit and turned off all protection choices, but even
though all these controls are checked, I’m still stuck with the gray horizontal boxes. 
Am 24 hours late with a deadline document and can’t tell you how
much stress I have.
Can anyone help me?


4, 2016-02-23 23, 2016

Hi, we have Acrobat Standard x and XI. Under Tools, Protection we are not seeing any of the Redaction entries. Just Encrypt, More Protection, and Remove Hidden Information.

Gary Griffin

12, 2016-02-20 20, 2016

When I provide a number sequence for redaction, Acrobat IX Pro has suddenly started redacting all number in the document (not just the ones marked for redaction).  Any idea what is going on?

Lori Kassuba

1, 2015-06-29 29, 2015

Hi Roshni,

I would use the Redaction feature found in the Pro. version of Acrobat to do this.



2, 2015-06-22 22, 2015

Please let me know how we can hide any data or any important lines in PDF file

Lori Kassuba

10, 2014-10-17 17, 2014

Hi Laurie,

Yes, this command removes the OCR. You can see exactly what the result will be in the preview portion of the Hidden Information pane prior to actually removing the content.



7, 2014-10-16 16, 2014

On a PDF created from a scanned document, won’t removing hidden text also mean you will no longer be able to search the document?


Lori Kassuba

5, 2014-08-28 28, 2014

Hi Michael,

This really depends on how the watermarks were created. You can try removing them using the Watermark command under the Page panel in Acrobat XI.



5, 2014-08-27 27, 2014

okay, I get how the redaction tool works. I mean, I think the speed of it is great, it finds everything so fast. However, I don’t like that it just puts a black bar over it. I printed out some pages from my e-textbook so I can have while in class, but there are watermarks that make some of the problems and examples illegible. I could just as easily select and delete each one of them, but I don’t have the time to delete 4 or 5 watermarks on 500 pages. Is there a way I can use this to delete the watermarks instead of just putting a black bar over it?

Lori Kassuba

1, 2014-08-15 15, 2014

Hi Cecl,

You’ll need Acrobat and not just the free Reader to delete content or pages with a PDF file.



11, 2014-08-14 14, 2014

I am trying to delete a document that was sent to me. I have not been successful

Lori Kassuba

1, 2013-04-25 25, 2013

Hi Fred,

This tutorial is for Acrobat XI. In this version the Redaction feature has been modified so that it’s easier to walk through the process. In addition, you’ll find an Action Wizard in the Pro. version to simply things.



9, 2013-04-24 24, 2013

Really? Acrobat 9 - Is it that difficult to show simple text instruction for such a simple feature. I found it simpler to go back to the source Word doc and edit that and reconvert it to PDF. ADOBE - why make redaction so darn difficult!!!!!!!!!! Your help files are also useless and your search feature is worthless.

Comments for this tutorial are now closed.