It's all too common to create a password-protected PDF, only to come back to it later and be hit with an error when trying to open it. You quickly realize that you forgot the PDF password and don't have a backup anywhere.
This used to be more of an issue, but these days you can use a PDF password unlocker to remove security from the PDF. While this doesn't spell great news if you've been thinking your password protection is secure, it is handy if you made a mistake.
Free password remover tools can remove the owner password to allow editing or printing. However, removing the “user” password is much more difficult. These often require commercial software and what's known as a “dictionary” attack. This method is universal to cracking passwords, rather than being PDF specific, and can take a very long time if you don't know any of the password.
As you'll see through the course of this tutorial the success rate of removing a password from a PDF is also variable, depending on the software and the encryption algorithm used. As a result, we're going to show you how to remove a password from a PDF with both free and paid tools.
Print to New PDF to Remove Password
Though it sounds too easy, you can remove the owner password from some PDFs by just printing them as a new PDF. This essentially makes your own unprotected copy of the document, but will only work if it isn't print restricted.
How to Remove a known PDF Password with Adobe Acrobat DC Pro
If you want to preserve the original PDF file with all options and data and remove a known PDF password, you can use Adobe Acrobat DC Pro to do so. Adobe offers a week-long free trial of Acrobat Pro which is more than enough to get rid of the password.
- Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat DC Pro and press the padlock button
- Click “Permission Details”
- In the “Security” tab, remove password protection from the PDF
- Press “OK” to the remove PDF password prompt
- Check the “Document Restriction Summary”
- Press the save icon to save the unrestricted PDF
How to Remove an unknown PDF Password with a PDF Password Remover
There are several free applications that remove encryption from a PDF, including PDF Password Remover Tool, Freeware PDF Unlocker, and Amazing Free PDF Password Remover. It's usually worth trying these before spending money, but your results may vary.
If the freeware doesn´t help you, it's likely only commercial pdf software can remove your PDF's owner password. Recover PDF Password, Birdie PDF Security Remover and A-PDF Restrictions Remover are tools that should do the job even with PDF files locked with the newest encryption methods.
We're going to be showcasing the Free PDF Password Remover Tool and PDF Technologies PDF Password remover for this tutorial.
- Add a file and start the removal process
- Your password will be removed
- OR you'll see the following error