Is it possible to find out the source of a downloaded pdf from examining the pdf data? The pdf in question was not downloaded by myself but was downloaded into an account of mine. I have since changed passwords. From opening the pdf it appears to be a website saved as a pdf format.

  • Mobiles are off-topic.
    – DavidPostill
    Dec 11, 2018 at 20:41
  • Thank you David, I will modify my question to suit.
    – Vesper007
    Dec 11, 2018 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


Unless the origin is "in" the PDF (i.e: as Text or Metadata), there is no way to know where it came from...

In addition to this, any origin that appears to be in the PDF may not actually relate to the perceived origin.

For example:

  • The file may have been produced by an academic at a University
  • There may be a link to the author's web space on the University systems, or even a direct link to the PDF
  • But you may have actually downloaded it from a mirror or some other random site

Fundamentally: browsers do not modify file content, so there is no way to know where a file was actually retrieved from. Your best option is the browser history.

At a pinch you could try searching for text in the PDF to see if the results refresh your memory.

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