Adobe Acrobat Reader DC – Unable to edit PDF/A opened read-only


When opening a PDF in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC – the PDF  is read-only and all edit options (e.g. adding a comment) are disabled.

The following message is displayed at the top

This file claims compliance with the PDF/a standard and has been opened read-only to prevent modification.


This issue often happens when a hard copy document has been converted to a PDF – e.g. scanned and saved as PDF using a photocopier.

PDF/A is different from a traditional PDF – PDF/A files are designed for long term archiving – which is why editing is disabled by default.

These steps show how to enable editing:

  1. In Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, click on the ‘Edit’ menu then ‘Preferences’
  2. Open ‘Documents’ menu on the left hand side
  3. Under ‘PDF/A View Mode’
  4. Change ‘View documents in PDF/A mode’ to ‘Never’
  5. Click ‘OK’ to save the changes
  6. PDF documents using the PDF/A standard will now be editable.