How Do I Get Past Adobe PDF Security Settings?

by Jay Leon
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Adobe PDF security settings are designed to protect PDF files from unauthorized use. Passwords and certificates can restrict access to a file or suspend certain privileges such as printing, editing and copying. But while this gives some protection to authors of PDF documents, it can be a hassle for readers and even the authors themselves if, for instance, they forget the passwords. Luckily for all, there are solutions available, particularly for Adobe's PDF password security.

Step 1

Disable security settings in Adobe Acrobat if you know the password. Open the file in Acrobat. Choose "Advanced" > "Security" > or click on "Security" button. Select "Remove Security." Both user passwords and owner passwords can be deleted this way. This method can also remove certificate security.

Step 2

Use Ghostscript GSview to open PDF files with owner password restrictions. The Ghostscript-based PDF viewer disregards Adobe security settings. You can print a restricted PDF file, convert it to other formats, or extract text content and export it as plain text. However GSview cannot remove or bypass user passwords.

Step 3

Convert the PDF file to another format to edit its contents. Use Wondershare PDF Converter to convert the file to Word, PowerPoint, Excel, HTML or Plain Text format. The converted document can be edited, copied and printed without limits. The trial version will process only the first three pages of a document. Wondershare PDF Converter can get past only owner passwords, not user passwords.

Run a password cracker like Advanced PDF Password Recovery to remove owner and user passwords. Open the PDF file in the program to "brute-force" the password. The trial version will crack only passwords that are four characters long or shorter.


  • Make sure you do not violate copyright laws when using PDF software, especially password recovery tools.


  • There are many PDF password removers available. The owner password overrides the user password. If you load a file in Adobe Reader or Acrobat and enter the owner password, the PDF file will open. An "owner" password is what's used to enable certain restricted options within the file, say "File" > "Print." Also known as a permissions password. A "user" password is a password that must be entered to open a restricted PDF file. Also known as a document open password.


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About the Author

Jay Leon began work as a writer and blogger in 2007. Her clients have included content provider Averheld and Loudoun Rewards Club. She writes about computing, web design, the Internet and travel.

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