Remove PDF protection recover and disable password

unprotect pdf
PDF files can be password protected with any file creation program, so you can send confidential documents so they can’t be read by unauthorized people. In reality, the protection of PDF files is often very weak and can be removed with some dedicated and easy to use tools. With some programs, then, you can too try to remove the protection even if you do not know the password, although it may not always work (it all depends on the type of encryption used for protection).In the following guide we will show you how unprotect a PDF whether we know the access password or if we do not know the password, so as to make it freely accessible on any computer and printable without any limit. The methods listed involve the use of programs and websites dedicated to removing PDF protection.

READ ALSO -> Password protect PDF to open or edit it

Remove PDF protection with known password

To unprotect a PDF whose password you know you can use it very easily Google Chrome as a PDF reader. To use this method we drag the PDF to a Chrome tab, enter the reading password and then print the PDF to another PDF. From Chrome, then right-click on the open PDF and click on Print; in the field Destination let’s make sure you choose as a printer Print to PDF, a ready-to-use virtual printer integrated into Chrome. The new PDF file obtained will be without any protection and ready to be printed or shared without limits. This is particularly useful if you receive protected medical reports or bank documents, to avoid having to remember the password to read them, which can be different each time. It is therefore advisable to do this job every time, at the first reading of a protected PDF, to forget the password forever.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to use Chrome, we can download a small portable program that removes passwords from PDFs. BeCyPDFMetaEdit, portable and free that does not require installation, allows you to open a PDF and change the security properties so that the password is no longer required.

If the tool seen above did not serve the purpose, we can rely on an online service such as SmallPDF, which offers a page dedicated to unlocking secure PDF files. After opening the site, drag the protected PDF file into it, wait a few seconds and, if the file is unlockable, we will get a free download PDF file from any type of protection. For advanced encryption we will still have to enter the password for unlocking but, at the end of the process, we will still have a free PDF file, ready to download and to use freely.

Remove PDF protection with unknown password

In case we are dealing with a PDF for which we do not know the access password, the tools to use to unlock a secure PDF are others, some of which I have already talked about, simple and which should almost always work (unless a strong security algorithm is used).

1) PDFUlnlock

PDFUlnlock is the site that allows you to upload a PDF for free and to re-download it completely without protection. It is so simple to use that it looks amazing, albeit with some limitations. In particular, it is possible to upload on the site only PDFs with a maximum size of 5 MB. It also works well with strong encrypted PDFs, but not all files can be unlocked; it is worthwhile to try and see if the unlocking is possible or if we have to use another of the tools seen below.

2) PDF Unlocker

Free PDF Unlocker is a small free program to disable PDF protection even if you don’t know the password. This program tries to force the cryptographic protection, so you can immediately get the complete PDF even without a password. Obviously, the success of the operation depends on the type of encryption used on the PDF, but the percentage is still good for most PDFs created with Adobe Reader Pro.

3) PDF Security Remover Software

PDF Security Remover Software is a commercial program that we can try for a limited period without paying anything. This program removes the password from any PDF, including even highly encrypted PDFs (even if it is to be seen as far as it can go) and removes all types of restrictions on files such as copying, editing, printing. With this program we can perform copy and paste actions of the text bypassing any type of protection. It is probably best in class, but before buying it, always try the free version to see if it really unlocks all protected PDFs.

Similar paid programs that you can try for free are also Enolsoft for MAc and Jiohosoft PDF Password remover for Windows and Mac.

4) PDFCrack

PDFCrack is another good program to use to unlock an encrypted PDF, to recover the password and disable it. To use this tool, you need to extract it to an easy-to-reach folder, such as C:downloadpdfcrack. In the same folder, to make things easy, we move the PDF whose protection you want to disable, open the command prompt as administrator (in Windows 10 let’s look for it in the Start menu, press the right mouse button on it and start Run as Administrator). Now that the prompt is ready we type the command cd C:downloadpdfcrack and launch the command pdfcrack document.pdf, customizing the command based on the name of the PDF file (but we can also quickly rename it to document.pdf) and wait until the password to be used to access appears. The program works quite well, but it is not guaranteed to work with the latest PDFs and strong encryption.

5) QPDF

QPDF is another command line tool that allows you to remove the encryption of a PDF in order to unlock it even without a password. This tool works like PDFCrack, from the command prompt; the command to run with QPDF is qpdf –decrypt document.pdf unlocked-document.pdf (remember to put the document.pdf in the same folder where the qpdf program is extracted).

6) ILovePDF (online)

If instead of a program we want to remove PDF protection directly online we can rely on a site like ILovePDF which, on the dedicated page, offers a valid tool to remove the password and any other type of protection present on the PDF. To proceed, all we have to do is drag the file into the browser window and wait for it to be unlocked: in a few seconds we will have the same PDF file in download but without any kind of protection. On many files it also removes the password, but a lot depends on the level of encryption on the document.

7) PDF2Go (online)

Another tool that we can use online to remove all forms of PDF protection is PDF2Go. As already seen for similar sites we can proceed by opening the page dedicated to unlocking, drag the locked or password-protected PDF file and wait for the end of the process; we will end up with the download of the same PDF file but without any form of protection, ready for printing, editing or for free sharing.

Conclusions

If we find ourselves in a locked PDF or with various types of active protection we can try to bypass them using one of the programs or sites seen above, so as to be able to access personal and encrypted PDF documents whose password has been forgotten or access to documents sent to the company and whose access password is no longer remembered. Let’s avoid using these tools to hack protected PDFs not intended for us: it is tantamount to committing a crime.

If we have locked Excel files or ZIP files with passwords, we can try to unlock them by reading our guides Unlock protected or “read-only” Excel files and Unlock a password protected PDF.

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