I have several PDF documents which have the "no copy" and "no print" restriction bits set. Are there any free tools for removing such restrictions, on Linux?

I tried pdf2ps | ps2pdf but the size increase is horrible. The originals are fairly large too, so I'd rather use a local tool than a website.


4 Answers 4


FOSS-wise, there is PDFCrack, not sure if it does actually remove the security though, it's just a password cracker. I generally turn to some free trial software, A-PDF Restrictions Remover, it's easier to use.

It might be a lot harder if it's a recent PDF version though, I think they really increased the security recently.

  • Ended up buying the A-PDF tool. Jun 22, 2015 at 10:07
  • A-PDF tool wants to make changes to the computer. Why does a PDF editor need to change the machine's configuration? It is a classic violation of least privilege and is probably laced with malware.
    – jww
    Jun 7, 2018 at 19:01

With qpdf:

$ qpdf --decrypt restricted-input.pdf unrestricted-output.pdf
  • 3
    qpdf works very well. There is a convenient pre-built Windows binary, which is a plus. Mar 19, 2015 at 4:04
  • This only works if you know the current password
    – iamkhush
    Sep 15, 2019 at 8:33
  • 4
    @iamkhush This requires the password if the file is actually encrypted and requires a password for opening, but it removes the no-print/no-copy DRM just fine without.
    – kinokijuf
    Feb 1, 2020 at 19:42
  • 3
    worked like a charm to remove copy and print restrictions. thank you!
    – logoff
    Aug 29, 2020 at 21:27
  • This worked for me. Thanks!
    – henryjw
    Nov 20, 2020 at 21:47

You can probably use pdftk. Something like

pdftk in.pdf output out.pdf allow AllFeatures

should do the job.

  • 3
    This would work if the password is known. Dec 13, 2011 at 2:39
  • 7
    I'm probably a few years late, but the owner password does not have to be known for this, just the user password, if there's any. It warns you not to abuse the power to simply remove the owner password and the limitations altogether, but does it without further complaining. I think this should be the accepted answer.
    – matega
    Dec 10, 2014 at 8:04
  • 1
    For whom it may concern, pdftk is written in java and requires JRE.
    – logicor
    Jul 19, 2021 at 2:56
  • 1
    Thanks so much. I needed to OCR an Intel datasheet from the 80's, and ocrmypdf refused to run until I'd done this. pdftk works (at least the version in Debian).
    – Wyatt Ward
    May 6, 2022 at 19:04

If you've got ghostscript installed try simply:

gs -sPDFPassword=$PASS -q -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=%stdout% -c .setpdfwrite -f locked.pdf > unlocked.pdf
  • 5
    +1 and found a variation online: gs -q -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=unencrypted.pdf -c .setpdfwrite -f encrypted.pdf. Worked for me in a few seconds, faster than brute-forcing a password...
    – bufh
    Jul 9, 2016 at 15:51
  • 1
    Side note, in my case the original file was 10 MB, after gs it was 3.7 MB.
    – bufh
    Jul 9, 2016 at 16:01
  • 3
    @bufh It probably reduced the resolution. GhostScript defaults to something like 72 dpi unless you specify an alternative with something like -r<dpi> (eg. -r300). Also, make sure you pass -dSAFER. PostScript is a turing-complete programming language and, last I checked, GhostScript's default was to allow arbitrary filesystem access.
    – ssokolow
    Jan 17, 2017 at 0:44

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