Anonymous pdf (updated)

June 4, 2009 at 3:59 pm 2 comments

| Gabriel |

One of the quaint traditions of academia is anonymous peer review. This is made somewhat difficult by the fact that all sorts of info is in the meta-text. Here’s a way to keep your name out of the meta text while making pdfs on a mac. (Steps two and three also work on Linux).

1. Save the file as postscript. On the Mac you do this the same way you save as pdf (that is you click the “pdf” button in the print dialog) except that you choose “save as postscript”

2. Open the postscript file in a text editor, search for all occurrences of your name and other identifying information etc and replace the strings with “anonymous.”

3. Open the terminal, “cd” to the right place, and type:


It takes a few seconds to execute, but that’s it. Yes it would be possible to batch it but unless you’re much more productive than me and send articles out for peer review every day it’s not really worth it.

If you want to double check that it worked you can use this procedure to search the meta-text of a pdf.


Based on this macosxhints thread I created this drag and drop Automator application that scrubs the “author” (your name) and “content creator” (e.g. MS Word) fields from an existing pdf. So just create the pdf normally, then use this application to clean it.


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  • 1. Gudrun v Sørensen  |  April 12, 2012 at 3:49 am

    thousands thanks
    it was a great help, I had solved my problem, and more than that, I found another way – via postscript to pdf and then to Giff. I’ve made a little green book “free green look – weeds for food” as I want to share on the web without all informortioner about me and my computer. Now started making a page on facebook and put it on there. It took only an hour since I had read the instructions.

    Green greetings from spring in Denmark

  • 2. mark  |  July 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Hey, can you provide a bit more direction here on how to use your Automator app? I haven’t a clue how to use these and I don’t see clear directions in the thread you cited. How does one activate this app and is it compatible with scrubbing info from a pdf file edited in Acrobat X?

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