How to remove Header and Footer from a PDF when Acrobat doesn’t detect them

A neat way to trick Acrobat into removing logos, dates, page numbers or text from Header and Footer even if it doesn't recognize them.

Adobe Acrobat Pro is a useful tool for editing PDFs but some of its features  are not simple. As in the case of Word documents converted into PDF documents, if you wish to edit header or footer in Acrobat, you might get a message that no headers and footers were detected even though you’re staring right at them. How can you edit them if the application doesn’t recognize them?

Note that this method does not choose which content to remove. It’s all or nothing. Remove responsibly.


First, confirm if Acrobat can detect Header and Footer.

From top menu bar (F9 if it’s missing), Document -> Headers and Footers -> Update…

Menu bar - Document - Header & Footer - Update

Now, Acrobat will try to detect Header and Footer in the document.

If it finds them, you’ll get the Update Header and Footer window and you can make your edits right there. Great! Problem solved.

Update Header and Footer form

If it doesn’t find them, you’ll get this message:

Acrobat cannot find any headers or footers in this file. If you see header or footer information, it was not added in Acrobat and cannot be detected as such.

Fret not! You don’t have to edit or remove each text box or logo on each page individually. You can trick Acrobat into removing the header and footer data for you so you can override them later.

Planning to convert the PDF into a doc to edit within Word? If Acrobat can’t detect header and footer, once converted, Word will not detect them either. Follow my steps to remove them within Acrobat first before the conversion. MS Word is not as easy to trick.

Steps to remove stubborn Header and Footer

  1. Add new Header and Footer (Document -> Header and Footer -> Add…)
  2. Type in any information in both
  3. Click OK to save
  4. You’ll notice in your document that the header and footer information you entered is now positioned on top of the original header and footer. This is expected.
  5. Remove new Header and Footer (Document -> Header and Footer -> Remove…)

Wow. What just happened? Removing header and footer information you entered removed the original header and footer data that was present in the document even though it was not detected originally!

See following video for a visual step by step guide:

insert video

Did this method work for you? Let me know in the comments below.

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