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I have made usage restrictions to a PDF file and protected it with a password. Now I would like to remove the protection to allow my self to do more with the document. Doing a Google search for "unlock protected pdf with password" gave me all sorts of crazy suggestions using all sorts of cracking/hacking/illegal tools.

So I refined my search and included "adobe support" and found the following page.

Removing Security from PDFs: Individually and in Batch

This is where my problems would have ended but my version of Adobe Acrobat doesn't match the version used in the description. Also, my Security tab of the Document Properties dialog box (i.e. security properties) does not have the security options as shown in the example.

This is their:


And this is mine:


So how do I do this? Do I really have to hire a hacker for a day? Just to perform this simple task of unlocking the restrictions of my own document? I mean I know the password... hell, I thought Adobe software would be smarter than this.

I previously had the older version of Adobe Acrobat as the one shown in the example (see screenshot and link above) and I know that it was possible to remove this restriction very easily. There was even a dedicated button for this on the toolbar.

This is the Security button in old Adobe Acrobat:

security button

For the record, I have Adobe Acrobat X Pro.

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Doesn't the official way work (scroll to bottom: Tools > Protection > Encrypt > Remove)? I have no Acrobat installed so I have to ask you. I see that you ask for "usage restriction" and not for "password removing", but I guess removing the password would give you full access. – nixda Jul 8 '13 at 8:46
@nixda Thanks! It was my mistake! The PDF file was open in Adobe Reader instead of Adobe Acrobat. I didn't even realize it until I saw "adobe reader" in the title bar of the program window. Both programs look the same. – sammyg Jul 8 '13 at 10:26
You can remove Permission pswd if you know just the Open Document pswd, try this with ghostscript => gswin64c -dSAFER -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sFONTPATH=%windir%/fonts;xfonts;. -sPDFPassword=123456 -dPDFSETTINGS=/prepress -dPassThroughJPEGImages=true -sOutputFile=OUTPUT.pdf INPUT.pdf – dns Nov 4 at 13:25
Try this answer (with online and offline options). – Alisa Nov 13 at 23:32

4 Answers 4

PDFUnlock! "Remove passwords and restrictions from secured PDF files!"

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Thanks! Now, I have already removed the restriction using the official method. But I made a new test document where I used the same password to restrict editing. I then processed it through the website you liked to and the result was an unlocked file. So this method should work as well. This tells something about the security of PDF files, doesn't it? I mean this clearly shows why protecting PDF files with passwords is ineffective. – sammyg Jul 8 '13 at 10:24
@Sammy you said a mouthful. I guess, like most laws, rules, or restrictions they keep the honest amongst us honest. – packets Jul 8 '13 at 21:12
It is infuriating that some instruction manual PDF won't let me "highlight" or "sticky note" in the file, as I could naturally do with a paper document. I should be able to SAVE a copy that doesn't have the official signature, and do what I want. – JDługosz Feb 10 at 7:01

I was also trying to bypass PDF permission password security. I have received this file from my client and he said he forgot the password. I did a quick Google search and found the website PDFUnlock but I didn’t upload the PDF file there because this PDF file is pretty confidential and this PDFUnlock website looks quite phishy. I mean in the header area there is a hyperlink that redirects to some fundraising/donation website, then there is “Purchase PDF Unlocker” button and again in the end there is a “Donate” button that redirects to PayPal. Note: It’s just my personal opinion.

Then I came across to this guide to removing PDF password security/restrictions. Program mentioned here did the job for me! It’s not free but it works perfectly. Now I can easily print, copy and modify this PDF file.

P.S. My PDF file was protected with 256bit encryption.

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It's legit. I built it! – Lauri Lehtinen Sep 7 '14 at 16:24
The best answer. 100% works for me. Thank you very much! – dns Nov 4 at 12:57

I did not want to upload my pdf to a dodgy site and wait in queue, so instead I spend some time googling. I found this free open source utility.

I ran it on the file like thist

qpdf --decrypt input.pdf output.pdf

And the restrictions were removed. Note that the original pdf was not password protected.

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Won't work on protected PDF with Permission Password. – dns Nov 4 at 12:58

My mistake! Ever since I installed Adobe Reader (Adobe Acrobat Reader) PDF files are opening in Adobe Reader by default, not in Adobe Acrobat Pro! I need to change this.

These options are not available in Adobe Reader, they are only available in Adobe Acrobat (Pro version). So with the PDF file opened in Adobe Acrobat program the official instructions should work.

You can remove security from an open PDF if you have the permissions to do so. If the PDF is secured with a server-based security policy, only the policy author or a server administrator can change it.

  1. In the open PDF, do one of the following:
    • Select Tools > Protection > Encrypt > Remove.
    • In the Security tab of the Document Properties dialog box, choose No Security from the Security Method menu.
  2. Your options vary depending on the type of password security attached to the document:
    • If the document only had Document Open password, click OK to remove it from the document.
    • If the document had a permissions password, type it in the Enter Password box, and then click OK. Click OK again to confirm the action.

Source: Securing documents with passwords

Now this is what the Document Properties dialog box looks like when I open the same document in Adobe Acrobat X Pro:

security properties in acrobat x pro

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It looks like you solved the problem. Can you accept your own answer to discourage spam posts? Thanks. – fixer1234 Mar 24 at 5:58

protected by bwDraco Mar 24 at 5:58

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