How to Remove Password Protection From a PDF

Learn how to unlock a PDF file

PDF files are useful documents for many reasons such as the fact that they look the same no matter what device you use them on. They're also very easy to add passwords to making it much harder for unauthorized people to access the contents. What do you do if you want to remove password protection from PDF though and open up the file to everyone again? It can be tricky to know where to begin when you want to remove the security from a PDF file. 

Here's a look at the simplest ways to remove password protection from a PDF file. 

In most countries, the only legal use of PDF password crackers is to remove the security on a PDF file that you have permission to access. Never use a PDF password cracker or removal method for a file that isn't yours to unlock. 

How to Remove Password Protection From a PDF When You Know the Password

For legal reasons, you should only ever remove password protection from a PDF that you possess and already know the password for. Passwords are typically added to prevent plagiarism or to encrypt the information so that it's safer to transmit online. That's particularly useful for contracts or competitor information within a company. If you want to unprotect the PDF so others can see it without needing the password, it only takes a few steps. Here's how to do it.

It's possible to follow very similar steps in most PDF viewer apps but we're using Google Chrome here as it's available on all formats including Windows, Mac, and Linux. 

  1. Open Google Chrome.

    Google Chrome new tab window
  2. Click File > Open File.

    Google Chrome with Open File highlighted
  3. Find your passworded PDF document and click Open.

    Google Chrome with Open File dialog highlighted
  4. Enter the password of the document.

  5. Click Submit.

    Google Chrome with a PDF file open and password required dialog highlighted
  6. Click Print.

    Document open in Google Chrome with the Print icon highlighted
  7. Click on the Destination drop-down menu.

    Google Chrome print dialog with Destination highlighted
  8. Click Save as PDF.

    Google Chrome with Save as PDF highlighted
  9. Click Save.

    Google Chrome with Save as PDF set up. The save button is highlighted.
  10. Enter a name for the new document and click Save.

    The PDF is now saved to the new location with no password protection.

How to Remove a PDF Password Protection Using Adobe Acrobat DC

While Adobe Acrobat Reader is a free PDF viewer for all, Adobe Acrobat DC is a paid app that offers enhanced features for users that regularly need to manipulate PDFs. It's also considered the more appropriate way of removing the security on a PDF. Here's how to remove password protection using Adobe Acrobat DC, providing you know the password. 

It's possible to download a free trial of Adobe Acrobat DC from the Adobe website to do this.

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat DC.

  2. Click Open File.

    Adobe Acrobat Pro DC with Open File highlighted
  3. Find the file you wish to remove the password from and click Open.

    Adobe Acrobat Pro DC with the open file dialog box highlighted
  4. Enter the password and click OK.

    Adobe Acrobat Pro DC with the password entry box shown for a password protected PDF
  5. Click File > Properties.

    Adobe Acrobat Pro DC with a file open and File > Properties displayed
  6. Click Security.

    Adobe Acrobat Pro DC with the document properties for a PDF displayed
  7. Click the Security Method drop-down menu.

    Adobe Acrobat Pro DC with document properties open and the security method highlighted for a PDF
  8. Click No Security.

    Adobe Acrobat Pro DC with the password security method options highlighted including No Security
  9. Click OK.

    Adobe Acrobat Pro DC with the Ok dialog for deactivating security from a file
  10. Click OK one last time.

  11. The password has now been removed from the file and you can click File > Save to save it or do anything you want with it.

What Do I Do If I've Forgotten the PDF Password?

If you've forgotten the password to one of your PDFs, it can be trickier to remove the password protection. There are numerous free PDF password remover tools that you can try. There's no guarantee they'll work as it depends on the security level of the PDF and other restrictions, but it's definitely worth trying.

As before, it's illegal to break the security on a PDF file in many countries. Be aware of your country's law before pursuing this route and only try to remove the security of a PDF if it's your document.