Protecting Your Images with a Watermark

I got a call yesterday from a buddy who was asking if I knew of a way to protect jpeg images on a disc so that they couldn’t be printed.  I knew where he was going with this.  He wanted to deliver proofs to a client but didn’t want to give the client the ability to just use the images to make their own prints or even copy them without compensation.

The truth is, I really didn’t know of any method except to make an auto-playing slideshow.  My other suggestion was to put a transparent watermark on the images before handing them off to the client.  The transparent watermark is not so obtrusive that it gets in the way of viewing the image, but it does supply enough of a deterrent that you wouldn’t want to make prints from the image.  To make things even better, a simple action can be made to create the watermark and then turned into a droplet.  The droplet can be placed on the desktop and all you have to do is drag and drop a folder onto it and it will automatically run the action on all of the images in the folder.  You could also use the droplet in Lightroom as part of your export process (check out this video from my friend Julianne Kost to see how to use droplets in Lightroom).

Here’s a quick video that will run you through the process.  This isn’t the only way to do this, it’s just the way that I found works best for me.  If you have a different method, please share it in the comment section.

By the way, this video looks even better when played full screen.

Here’s what the final image looks like after the watermark is applied.  Make sure you click on it to see a larger version.



  1. Bridge (CS4) will create a PDF of the image(s).

    Adobe Acrobat writer will lock it for viewing but not printing. There are 2 options for that. A simple password can be used, but defeated with password cracking software. A certificate based lock cannot. Of course, this path requires buying Acrobat and, possibly, a certificate.

  2. Would you mind providing a tutorial on how you created the actual watermark used? The font, etc.? That would be great.

  3. Your tutorial on creating a watermark is horrible! Are you using a MAc or a PC? If your using a Mac learn to give more clear instruction because your not clear on what to do after clicking on the text layer. Do you hold the left click and press command and control buttons at the same time or in two steps? What a waste of my time.

  4. Sorry you were so disappointed Fred. It certainly wasn’t my intention to confuse anyone. I always try to tell narrate the keystrokes I am using so that the viewer has an idea what I am pressing. I reviewed the video again and I did not fail to explain any of the keystrokes. I don’t usually tell Mac users to use Command and Windows users to use Control because A) my record time was limited to 5 minutes, and B) most folks on a Mac know what the Command key is and Windows users are familiar with the Control key. The one thing that I see as being a little confusing is the section that you mentioned. So here it is for anyone that might not have understood.

    * When you click the thumbnail of the text layer while holding down the CMD (Mac) or CTRL (Win) key, it automatically highlights the text and makes it a selection.

    * The selection is going to be used to create a duplicate of the background photo in the shape of the text so the Background layer needs to then be made active. This is done by pressing the Option (Mac) or Alt (Win) key and the left bracket key at the same time.

    * The next step will create a duplicate of the selection on its own layer. To do this, simply press CMD (Mac) or CTRL (Win) and the J keys.

    * Now you can trash the actual text layer because it is no longer needed. Its only purpose was to create the selection. If you want to skip those steps, you can simply use the Text Selection tool to type the text that you want (it’s nested behind the regular text button). I prefer to use the method described because I like to actually see my text filled in first so I have a better idea of how it will look.

    I hope that makes things more clear. Once again, I’m sorry you were so disappointed by the tip.

  5. wrong said fred says:

    Fred… what a jerk you are-

    Jeff is an amazing individual posting all of this work he does and for what? FOR US.

    And then to ad insult to injury, you didn’t even thank him or apologize for being a total douche.

    Nice attitude. Why don’t you take a BEGINNERS class in keyboarding for the MAC.

    Wow – simply amazing..

  6. Actually, I thought this tutorial was perfectly clear and I have only been using Photoshop for two weeks. Thanks so much!

  7. Betsy Spath says:

    I use Picasa to place my watermark on my pictures. It appears in the lower right hand corner. Picasa is a free editing program from Google.


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