Locking vs. Flattening Your Markups


The differences between locking and flattening markups, and recommendations for using each function.

Relevant Products

Bluebeam Revu

Bluebeam Revu lets you either lock or flatten markups to prevent them from being accidentally moved or edited. But how do you know which one to use, and why?

The answer lies in what you’re trying to achieve: Are you trying to turn the markups into a permanent part of the document content that can never be edited? Or, do you simply want to keep them from being unintentionally modified or deleted?

To further help you make the decision about what to use and when, let’s first go over the differences between the Lock and Flatten functions and their advantages.


Locking a markup is useful if you want to prevent it from unintentionally being changed or deleted while you’re working on the document. This also gives you the flexibility to export or copy the markup, and make certain changes such as replying to it or changing the status if needed. In addition to this, if there are multiple locked markups, you can unflatten them individually.

Learn how to lock your markups (annotations) in the Revu Manual.


Whenever markups are flattened, Revu merges them into the “page,” which makes them part of the original page content (the content layer). Once this happens, you won’t be able to change or modify them, and they’ll no longer appear in the Markups list. Along with this, although you can right-click on an individual markup and flatten it, the process of unflattening affects all markups on the page. These are very important differences between the Lock and Flatten functions.

Processes That Prevent Markup Recovery

Although you can enable the Allow Markup Recovery option in the Flatten Markups dialogue box, the functions listed below will alter the content and prevent the flattened markups from being recovered:

  • Edit Text
  • Search and Replace
  • Erase Content
  • Cut Content
  • Repair Page Content
  • Reduce File Size
  • Apply Redactions
  • Colour Processing

This can sometimes catch people off-guard, especially when working on a document over an extended period of time. For example, they might be using a workflow where markups are added and flattened before saving and closing the file. Eventually they go back to the document having forgotten that it was flattened, and decide to run one of the functions listed above. The content layer gets altered, and they’re unable to recover the markups.

Flattened Form Fields cannot be unflattened under any circumstances.

All that being said, flattening your markups not only offers the advantage of making them “secure,” it also ensures that markups and annotations display in viewers and mobile apps that only display PDF content and otherwise fail to display markups and annotations included in a PDF file.

You can learn how to flatten your markups (annotations) in the Revu Manual.

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