How to unlock a password protected PDF

How to remove password from PDF. An exhaustive guide on how to unlock a password protected PDF.

Removing PDF passwords is not difficult and you don't need to be a computer expert to do it. All you need to get is great software that will help you in your intent.

That is why you will have to take into account the difference between the two types of password protection that can be applied to PDF documents, and which are Owner password and User password.

  • La Owner password protects files from printing and editing. It can be easily bypassed.
  • La User password blocks opening documents unless you know the password. It is very difficult to unlock, the only solution is through a brute force attack on the document you want to open. This could take hours or even days.


  • How to unlock a password protected PDF Owner
    • QPDF (Software)
    • Portable PDF Unlocker (Software)
    • Small PDF (Online)
    • Unlock PDF (Online)
  • How to Unlock a Password Protected PDF User
    • PDFCrack
  • Other solutions to unlock password protected PDF

How to unlock a password protected PDF Owner

Here are some good software and online solutions to unlock PDF files and make them editable.

Read also: Remove Excel password

QPDF (Software)

To remove PDF passwords a valid solution is to rely on the software QPDF. It is a free open source program that allows you to bypass the password of a PDF on Windows, Mac OS e Linux. To use it you must:

Download it from this page and press the button Download Latest Version. Extract the zipped file to a folder and then right-click on the folder bin holding down the key Shift / Shift. In the context menu that appears, choose the item Open command window here. When the Command Prompt window appears, type

  • qpdf –decrypt input.pdf output.pdf  (replacing input.pdf with the full path and name of the file you want to unlock and output.pdf with the full path and name of the PDF file to get unlocked).

The same command can be used by opening the terminal on Mac. To install QPDF, on the other hand, after downloading it, type, always in terminal, the commands

  • / usr / bin / ruby ​​-e "$ (curl -fsSL" to install Homebrew
  • brew install qpdf to install QPDF.

Portable PDF Unlocker (Software)

In addition to QPDF, you can unlock PDF and remove PDF printing and editing protections through the free software for Windows: Portable PDF Unlocker. It does not require installation and can be downloaded and unzipped on your PC by connecting to this page. Click on the green button Download Latest Version and after downloading it open it with a data compression and archiving program, such as WinRAR o 7-zip, and copy the contents to a folder on your PC. Then run the executable Portable PDF Unlocker.exe and drag the PDF file you want to unlock into the software window.

In a few seconds your PDF file will be unlocked and saved in the folder where the original document with the initials is located unpw after the name.

Small PDF (Online)

A valid alternative to the above programs to unlock a password protected PDF is the online service SmallPDF. The platform is free and allows you to edit and convert PDF files directly from your browser. You can use it without registering but in its free version it allows you to process a maximum of two documents per day. To process more and take advantage of additional features, you'll need to open a subscription for $ 6 a month.

To use it and remove passwords from PDF, you need to connect to the site and on the main page, choose the option Unlock PDF. Drag the PDF file to unlock and check the item I swear that I am authorized to modify this file and remove its protections, then press the button To unlock PDF and soon after on Download the file. The PDF will be unlocked and you can conveniently save it on your PC to view, edit or convert it to any other format.

The only drawback of this platform, which unlocks PDF, is the fact of having to upload files on their servers that could contain sensitive data (credit cards, personal data and so on). SmallPDF claims that the files uploaded to their servers are deleted within 1 day, but always better to rely on open source or offline software, which can guarantee some privacy.

Unlock PDF (Online)

Unlock PDF is another online service that allows you to unlock password protected PDF files. With Unlock PDF you can unlock copy and paste protection and get a file completely free from any restrictions.

To use it you need to connect to the official website and press the Browse button to upload the PDF file from your computer. After selecting it, check that the item is checked I agree to the Terms of Service below and press pulsating Unlock File! to remove password from PDF.

How to Unlock a Password Protected PDF User

Here are valid solutions to decrypt and open a PDF document by eliminating the user password.


PDFCrack it is truly one of the few programs able to make the best use of the brute force technique and attack blocked PDF documents. To download it go to this page and click on the link, on the right of the screen, Download ( to save it in any folder.At the end of the download, extract the zipped file with a compression program such as WinRAR or 7- zip and save it in a folder. Then click with the right mouse button and on the button Shift / Shift, on the folder where you extracted PDFCrack and, from the context menu, choose the item Open command window here to open the Command Prompt.

Write the command pdfcrack file.pdf, putting in place of file.pdf the path and full name of the PDF document to be unlocked. If successful you will see the message found user-password with the protection key to view the contents of the PDF file.

In case of an error message, for example name of the file not found, put the PDF file to be decrypted in the folder where the PDFCrack and type again pdfcrack file.pdf, replacing file.pdf only with the name of the file to be unlocked without path. If the PDF file name has spaces, you will need to use quotation marks, for example pdfcrack "file name.pdf".

For Mac users it is possible to download PDFCrack by connecting to this Internet page and clicking on the button Download latest version. Once the download is complete, open the tar.gz package and extract it to a folder. Open Terminal and type the following commands:

  • cd [PDFCrack path], for example cd c: pdfcrack
  • make -f makefile

Open a new Terminal window and to conclude, type:

  • [path to PDFCrack] / pdfcrack -u [path and name of the PDF you want to unlock]

Other solutions to unlock password protected PDF

If the above solutions did not solve your problem, below are other valid alternative methods to open a password protected PDF or remove password from PDF.

  • A-PDF Password Security (Windows) - works with both owner and user password.
  • ApowerPDF (Online / Windows) - works with both owner and user password.
  • iLovePDF (Online) - only works with owner password.
  • LightPDF (Online) - only works with owner password.
  • DF24 Tools (Online) - only works with owner password.
  • PDF Password Remover Tool (Windows) - works with owner password only.
  • Wondershare PDFelement (Windows / macOS) - works with both owner and user password.

Caution: unlocking documents that you are not authorized to view or edit can be a crime. Soultricks assumes no responsibility for the use you make of the information in this guide.

Other useful articles

  • Password decryption
  • Forgotten Word password
  • Remove DRM from PDF
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