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Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about Secure Electronic Delivery. 

Adobe Digital Editions Questions

1. What software do I need to receive SED documents?
2. What is Adobe Digital Editions (ADE)?
3. How big is the ADE software?
4. How do I download Adobe Digital Editions?
5. Do I need to have Adobe Reader in order to view my SED documents in ADE?
6. Do I need to activate ADE once I have downloaded it?
7. What are my alternative delivery methods if I can no longer continue to receive SED documents?
8. I’m having trouble downloading ADE. Who can help?
9. What are the system requirements for ADE?

General SED Questions

10. How do I receive the document?
11. How many times can I print the document?
12. How much time do I have to download and print the document?
13. Can I forward the document?
14. Can I save documents on my hard drive?
15. I only use Linux. Can I use Secure Electronic Delivery?

16. Why does the British Library use SED?

1. What software do I need to receive SED documents?

SED customers need, Adove Digital Editions (ADE) in order to view documents through our SED service. ADE can be downloaded now, for free, from the Adobe website

Adobe Digital Editions is a free eBook reader used to read DRM-protected PDF files and extends the eBook capabilities that were integrated in previous versions of Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat. More detailed information can be found on the Adobe ADE website.

ADE takes less than a minute, on average, to download. It is approximately 4.3MB in size. The previous secure document reader, Adobe Reader 7, was approximately 19MB.

No, you don’t. ADE can be used independently of Adobe Reader, as a standalone application. However, it can also be used in conjunction with Adobe Reader versions 8 and 9.

Yes you do. ADE has a setup assistance that will guide you through the activation process when you first install it. For more information, please visit the Adobe Digital Editions FAQ

We have recently introduced a new electronic delivery option FileOpen. FileOpen offers a very similar experience to our current SED service, but is compatible with every version of Adobe Reader, from version 4 onwards. Visit our FileOpen web pages for more info.

If you are a pharmaceutical company and hold a CLA ABPI Pharmaceutical License, please contact

Adobe has launched a Support Centre for Adobe Digital Editions that covers installation troubleshooting. You can also contact us at and we will do all that we can to help.

A full list of system requirements for ADE can be found at on the Adobe website

We send you an email message to tell you that it is available. This will have your order/request number in the header subject line and will contain the hyperlink(s) to your document(s). Click on the link while your computer is connected to the Internet to download the document.

Note: you are only allowed to access the document from our secure server once. So do not click on the link if you don't intend to download the document.

You may print only one paper copy, from which you may not make any further copies. You may not make further electronic copies or convert the file into any other format. You may not cut and paste or otherwise alter the text.

The electronic copy will be available for collection from the server for 30 days, after which the file will be deleted. If you cannot access the file within this time, you should contact Customer Services for advice.

Most documents can be stored for up to 3 years, but we still recommend that you print a copy as soon as you can after downloading the document.

Yes, providing you have not opened the item from the link in the email notification. You can simply forward the email message to your end user for them to open the item. Before doing this, however, do make sure that they have Adobe Digital Editions installed on their computer.

Yes, where we have an agreement with the publisher. The items will be stored in ‘Library’ on Adobe Digital Editions.

Unfortunately, Adobe Digital Editions does not work on Linux, however our alternative delivery option FileOpen does.

16. Why does the British Library use SED?

When we supply articles electronically we send them securely in order to ensure that the item is used as permitted and copyright law is observed. The intention is that a single copy is printed off for research purposes. Whilst the library enables access to information we also need to make sure that we are respecting copyright law.

Related content

Download a test document

PDF files

The links below are to Adobe PDF files. Accessibility solutions and free Reader software are available from Adobe.