Adobe Acrobat is the default software for creating PDF files, and it allows users to modify any part of the text or visuals before fixing them into place. One of its many core functions is data redaction or masking, which can be crucial when PDFs contain sensitive information about individuals or businesses. This function is very easy to use and basically prevents any possibility of a data leak when sharing PDF files publically.

In most cases, Adobe’s Redact tool works just as expected and completely obscures the selected parts of the document with an opaque layer. On rare occasions, it may fail to perform the required task, forcing the user to seek other solutions on the fly. There are many alternative redaction tools that you can turn to in such a moment, and we will present a few that are quite reliable and user-friendly.

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Why is Adobe Redact not Working?

There are several reasons why the PDF Redact tool in Acrobat may not be working properly. First of all, this feature is only available to Acrobat Pro users, so if you have a Standard license you won’t be able to access it. Another possibility is that the document you are trying to redact has security settings turned on that prevent such an action. You could also be using an obsolete version of Acrobat that doesn’t support the redaction feature. Finally, it’s possible that your installation of Acrobat is faulty and that a bug is preventing you from activating the Redact tool. It’s recommended to try and ascertain the root cause of the problem before proceeding to search for the best fix.

What Are Common Issues with Adobe’s PDF Redaction Tool?

As previously mentioned, with some documents it can be a problem to redact any content at all, but even if you are able to perform this operation some things could still go wrong. Here are some issues that are frequently encountered when you try to redact the document:

How to Redact PDF Documents without Adobe Acrobat?

As mentioned earlier, Adobe Acrobat is not the only tool capable of censoring sensitive information in a PDF document. There are several very good third-party redaction tools compatible with this format, and we will show you how to use each of them to protect the content of your PDFs.

Gemoo Snap

While Gemoo Snap is primarily a screen grabbing application, it also offers a reliable method for redacting important documents. This option works very well with PDF files and even includes some possibilities for process automation. The app is very lightweight and has a simple interface, so virtually anyone can instantly start censoring documents without any preparation.

Auto-hide Sensitive Information in PDF

Auto-hide Sensitive Information in PDF

Best qualities:

Biggest downsides:

Pricing: Free plan is offered, Basic plan costs $7.99 per month, Pro plan costs $9.99 per month

How to redact PDF:

Step 1. Free download Gemoo Snap > Open your PDF document. Select the Screenshot & Beautify feature, then take a screenshot of your PDF files that contains sensitive information.

Select the Screenshot & Beautify Option

Select the Screenshot & Beautify Option

Step 2. It will find the text that needs to be redacted through the automated search function and black it out.

Redact Sensitive Information

Redact Sensitive Information


When you need an extra layer of security and want to make sure that no one will see sensitive data in your PDF, Redactable is the right tool to use. This AI-driven software supports high-volume redaction of various documents while providing users with excellent data management tools. At the same time, it’s very pleasant to work with and allows users to be flexible with their markup procedures.

Redactable Interface

Redactable Interface

Best qualities:

Biggest weaknesses:

Pricing: Free trial is available, Pro plan costs $39 per month, Pro plus plan costs $89 per month

How to redact PDF:

Step 1 – Upload your PDF file to the Redactable online platform

Step 2 – Use the Redaction wizard to identify the bits of information that need to be censored

Step 3 – Manually confirm the redaction of selected parts of the document

Step 4 – Download the altered PDF to your computer and save it locally

PDF Element

Unlike other redaction tools described above, this software was developed specifically for the purpose of protecting PDF files. This means it’s perfectly optimized for redacting text or other elements contained in a document, and that virtually any user can leverage its advantages. Organizations with a strong security focus can rely on PDF Element to control outgoing documents and prevent data leaks.

PDF Element Interface

PDF Element Interface

Best qualities:

Biggest weaknesses:

Pricing: 1-year plan is offered for $79, 2-year plan can be purchased for $109.99, while Perpetual plan costs $129.99 per PC

How to redact PDF:

Step 1. Run PDF Element and open the file you want to redact

Step 2. Go to Edit tab and choose either Mark for redaction or Search and redact function

Step 3. Select all sensitive information in the document and then click Apply all marks

Step 4. Convert the file to your preferred format and save it

FAQs about Adobe Redact Tool Not Working

Can you redact in Adobe Acrobat without Pro license?

Only users with a valid Acrobat Pro license have access to the native Redact tool, while those who have only Standard license can’t rely on the internal censoring option. Many of them decide that it makes more sense using a third-party tool like Gemoo Snap than paying extra for the upgrade.

What version of Adobe Acrobat doesn’t support redaction?

Regardless of whether you are using Acrobat version 9 or any later edition such as Acrobat 10 and Acrobat 11, redaction of PDF documents is still possible with a built-in function. However, keep in mind that you need Pro license to activate the tool and mask the data.

How accurate are automatic redaction tools when identifying sensitive information?

While the latest AI algorithms are incredibly good at finding data patterns and correctly interpreting natural language, they still occasionally make silly mistakes. When redacting high-value documents that contain sensitive information, it’s highly recommended to check the redactions manually.


While Adobe Acrobat’s redaction tool may not be available every time you need it, bypassing it is relatively easy. With specialized third-party software you can enact permanent redaction of text or images in PDF documents without having to rely on the official method. Combined with OCR technology that enables search for text in PDF and AI-driven pattern recognition features, redaction with third-party software can be an effective way to protect any number or volume of documents. Let us know which alternative to the Adobe’s Redact tool you most commonly use when redacting data in your PDFs.


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