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How to Watermark a PDF

August 11, 2016

A PDF watermark is an image or line of text digitally “stamped” on a PDF — usually on top (or behind) the primary content. Once added, PDF watermarks traditionally remain part of future copies of the file, unless they’re removed. Virtru Pro’s PDF Watermark works differently, and serves a different purpose: the watermark contains the recipient’s email address, which helps control access and discourages leaks by identifying the recipient.

PDF Watermark with Virtru

Traditional PDF Watermarking Tools Label Documents

Images such as logos can mark ownership or aid in branding. Text PDF watermarks are good for labelling or versioning (e.g. “Rough draft,” or “Version. 2”) or instructing users (e.g. “confidential,” or “For internal use only.”) By signifying ownership, PDF watermarks provide some degree of IP protection, but they don’t prevent unauthorized copying, or identify the perpetrator if the document is leaked.

How to Watermark a PDF with Adobe Acrobat: In Acrobat, start by clicking Tools > Edit PDF > Watermark > Add. For a text watermark just click “Text” and type it in. To add an image, select “File” and browse for the image. Acrobat provides formatting options, allowing you to change the size, appearance, position and other features of the PDF watermark.

How to Watermark a PDF without Adobe Acrobat: iLovePDF is a quick, free tool that allows you to add a PDF watermark. Select a PDF from Google Drive or Dropbox, or drag and drop it on the browser window. Then, select “Text” and type the message, or click “Image” and upload a file. iLovePDF can also adjust the watermark’s appearance — albeit, with fewer features than Acrobat.

How to Watermark a PDF with Virtru

PDF Watermarking from Virtru is integrated into Virtru Pro, allowing you to automatically protect PDFs sent over email. With encryption enabled, click the options arrow (a downward-facing carrot on the top of the message window) and select “PDF Watermarking.” Then, select the PDF, finish your message and click “Secure Send.”

How to Watermark a PDF with Virtru

Each recipient will receive the document, stamped with a PDF watermark of their email address. Clicking the file will open it in Virtru’s Secure Reader (Virtru watermarked PDFs can’t be downloaded). Clicking Disable Forwarding will prevent the recipient from sharing the PDF. Otherwise, they’ll be able to forward it to a new recipient, whose email address will be substituted as the PDF watermark. The new recipient won’t be able to download or forward the PDF.

By marking messages and disabling forwarding, Virtru’s PDF watermarking makes it more difficult to leak sensitive PDFs (accidentally or otherwise) and provides a strong disincentive for doing so. If a copy of the PDF is shared, the watermark will show who leaked it, making it easy to track down the culprit.

How to Keep PDFs Secure

In addition to adding a PDF watermark, Virtru encrypts the message and attachment, preventing third parties from intercepting it en-route to the recipient. Virtru’s encrypted email service works with your existing email account, adding an extra layer of security and control features to help keep your data protected.

When Virtru PDF watermarking isn’t practical — such as when the file needs to be edited or forwarded multiple times, add a Document open password to prevent unauthorized parties from reading it. Set the compatibility to “Acrobat X And Later” to get strong, 256-bit AES encryption, and use a password that is at least 16 characters long (the longer, the better) with uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. If others need to use the password, be sure to share it securely — for example, by sending it in an encrypted email.

Learn more about data loss protection and safeguarding your trade secrets here.