How To Unlock A PDF file

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A secure PDF file enforces copyright laws with features to prevent reproduction or distribution by other users. The owner or creator of a PDF file can restrict user access, printing, text copying and document editing with password protection. If you need to edit or copy text from a PDF file, but don’t have access from the owner, follow these steps to unlock the PDF file.

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EditMethod One of 11:
Finding What is Restricted

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    Open the PDF file. If you need a password to open the file, then you will need to download encryption-breaking software. This method is very CPU-intensive, and even the simplest passwords can take days to crack, leaving your computer unable to perform any other tasks during that time. For highly-encrypted passwords, there is little chance that it can ever be cracked.

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    Check the security. If you don’t need a password to open the file, you can see if a file is secured by looking for the padlock icon. This is located at the top of the left bar if the document has security. Click the icon to see what is restricted.

    • Try copying. Restricted documents are often protected against copying. If you can’t highlight or copy any text, then the document has been restricted.
      Unsecure a Secure PDF File Step 2Bullet1.jpg
    • Try saving. Restricted documents cannot be saved as a text file. In order to convert it, you will need to unlock it.
      Unsecure a Secure PDF File Step 2Bullet2.jpg

EditMethod Two of 11:
Unsecure a PDF File as the Owner or Creator

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    Open the secured PDF file. You can use Adobe Acrobat to do this. You must be the creator of the document, or have the password for this method to work.

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    Click the Secure button. This button is located in the Tasks toolbar. It is easily identified by the padlock icon.

    • Choose the Remove Security option if you want to completely unsecure the PDF file. If you previously assigned a Permissions Password to the secure PDF file, you will have to enter it at this time to complete the process.
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    Change encryption settings. If you would rather adjust the encryption settings as opposed to unsecuring the PDF file, Click on the “Permission detail” link under the Secure button.

    • Click “Change settings” in Document properties under Security tab after selecting “Certificate security” in drop-down list. You may also click and select “No Security” from drop down list to fully unsecure document.
      Unsecure a Secure PDF File Step 5Bullet1.jpg
    • Select your encryption level and click next.
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    • You will need Digital ID to encrypt document. You may use any existing ID or create a new one for you.
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    • Check a recipient’s trusted identity, change a recipient’s permissions or remove recipients if you want to alter these items, then click Next.
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    • Click Finish and OK to save your changes and close the document properties window. Save the PDF file to implement the changes you have made.
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EditMethod Three of 11:
Using Google Drive

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    Open Google Drive. You will need a free Google account to access Drive. First, you will need to adjust the settings so that files are properly converted. In the top right corner, click the gear icon to open the Settings menu. Under “Upload settings” select “Convert text from uploaded PDF and image files.”

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    Upload the PDF. In the left frame, click the red button with the UP arrow, next to the Create button. Select “Files…” from the drop down menu and navigate to the PDF that you would like to unlock. Drive will upload and convert the document, creating a test document in your Drive folder.

    • This method only works on Owner-restricted PDFs.
      Unsecure a Secure PDF File Step 7Bullet1.jpg
    • Not all formatting will be preserved.
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    • Google Drive has a file upload limit of 2 MB per file.
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EditMethod Four of 11:
Using PDFUnlock

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    Open the website. Using your browser, go to www.pdfunlock.com. This site will unlock PDF files no larger than 5 MB for free. This works on Owner-restricted PDFs only.

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    Upload the file. Drag the file into the bar, or select one of the locations provided. If you select “My Computer,” you will be able to navigate to the file on your system. If you select “Dropbox” or “Google Drive,” you will need to sign into your respective account and select the file you wish to convert.

    • Click the “Unlock!” button. Uploading may take a few moments depending on your connection speed and the size of the PDF file.
      Unsecure a Secure PDF File Step 9Bullet1.jpg
  3. Unsecure a Secure PDF File Step 10.jpg
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    Download the converted file.After your file is uploaded, PDFUnlock will send you the converted file. Save it to your computer wherever you’d like to access it. You can differentiate the file by the word “unlocked” in the file name.

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    Check the permissions. Open the newly-converted file. Under the File menu, select Properties. In the Security tab, Security Method should say No Security.

    • Document Assembly, Signing, and Creation of Template Pages will still be listed as Not Allowed. This is because Adobe Reader cannot perform these actions, and they want you to purchase the Pro version.
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EditMethod Five of 11:
Using Foxit Reader and CutePDF Writer

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    Download the latest versions of Foxit Reader and CutePDF Writer. These are both free programs. Foxit Reader will allow you to open the PDF file and write it to a PDF printer. CutePDF Writer is a PDF printer than bypasses security restrictions.

    • Trying this process using the Adobe reader and printer will result in the security preventing the writing process.
      Unsecure a Secure PDF File Step 12Bullet1.jpg
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    Use Foxit Reader to open the secured PDF file. Select File, then Print to open the printer menu. Print the secured PDF file to CutePDF Writer.

    • Save the printed file to your computer as a new PDF file.
      Unsecure a Secure PDF File Step 13Bullet1.jpg
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    Open your new file. You can check the security settings by clicking File, then Properties. The security settings are detailed under the Security tab.

EditMethod Six of 11:
Using Microsoft XPS Viewer

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    Open the PDF in Adobe Reader.Select File, then Print. From the Printer drop down menu, select Microsoft XPS Document Writer. This will convert the PDF into an XPS file. When you start the print, you will be prompted to save the file.

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    Open the XPS file with XPS Viewer. This program comes installed with Windows. From the Tools menu, select Print. Select the PDF Printer from the list. You will need either Adobe Acrobat or another PDF writer such as CutePDF.

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    Save the file. After being prompted for a filename, the document will be converted back to PDF. The newly-converted PDF will be unsecured.

    • This method might not work for some security measures applied on the original Secure PDF file.
      Unsecure a Secure PDF File Step 17Bullet1.jpg

EditMethod Seven of 11:
Using Ghost Script and Ghost View (freeware)

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    Download and install, depending on your operation system, the freeware software Ghostscript, Ghostview and GSview fromhttp://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/ or mirrors.

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    Change the extension of your file from .pdf to .ps (post-script file).

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    Open the .ps file and and choose file-> convert-> device(select pdfwrite), resolution(select 600dpi) and click OK, save the file in your folder with the extension .pdf

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    Change back from .ps to .pdf the extension of your initial .pdf if it still needs it. This step is optional.

EditMethod Eight of 11:
Unlocking “no printing” lock feature in a secure PDF file in PDF XChange Viewer

This method is useful when you know the password.

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