Flaky Goodness

Read-Only PDFs

December 28, 2023

Sometimes I like to scribble on my PDFs to annotate them, add revisions or comments, check off items, or just mark them to indicate that I’ve reviewed them. That’s not possible if the author of the PDF has password-protected it to be read-only.


Figure 1: Read-only error

Based on this StackOverflow answer, here is a simple automation that will easily let you strip off this restriction for your PDFs. Note that this won’t remove bonafide PDF encryption: it’s just for removing the read-only flag.

Install Homebrew if you don’t have it already.

Install qpdf

brew install qpdf

Open up Automator, choose New > Quick Action.

Set up your Quick Action like this


Figure 2: Remove read-only from PDF

Save it

Name it PDF - remove read-only and quit Automator.

Test your Quick Action

Right-click/Option-click on a read-only PDF in the Finder. Choose Quick Actions > PDF - remove read-only.

The change should be instant and will not produce any output, but the editing restriction should be gone. You can also select several PDFs and run this Quick Action on all of them at once.