Pdf files



If I post a pdf file online, is there a way to set up the server so as to allow my visitors to open and print it, but to prevent them from downloading it and saving it onto their own hard drive?


Not really… and even if there was, it wouldn’t stop someone from saving a screenshot.

I’m curious, though… what type of content would you be okay with someone viewing & printing, but not saving?

Is it something like a contract that you don’t want people to modify before signing? If so, they could probably do that anyway by copying from the page, then creating a PDF of their own with it, without needing to save your original copy.

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If someone can print it, they can scan it and save it as a pdf.

My website


If you’re viewing or printing it, you have to have downloaded it to your system, even if it’s just to a temporary directory as the browser does when it displays it.

– Dan


I’m just posting sheet music of my own arrangements of some public domain stuff (bach, mozart, etc) for other musicians such as myself.

I realize, of course, that they can save a screenshot or scan it or hack a million other ways, but musicians are some of the least technologically savvy people I know, so I think it might boost traffic on the site a little bit.


In that case, is PDF traffic really the kind of traffic you want? You’d probably be better off just promoting your site within the PDF, something like, “Download more great sheet music at www.example.com.”

That way, you get the exposure no matter how it’s spread, whether someone shares the PDF or a printed pile of paper with friends.

Also remember that some people might have browsers configured to automatically download PDF files, instead of opening them. So if someone directly linked to one, adding a link inside the PDF might at least get them to visit your site if they want to check out other songs.

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Plus there are also people who use one of the “print to pdf” pseudo-printers.

I like the idea of promotional material on the sheet music itself.

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