Unlocking an Encrypted PDF File

by Jeff Grundy
Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Using an encryption password on your PDF documents is a good way to protect the contents from unauthorized changes, copying or printing. To make changes to an encrypted PDF, you must to enter the password before Adobe Acrobat or other programs will allow you to do so. If you forget the password for a protected PDF, though, you can use one of many available free applications and websites to try to remove the encryption so you can edit or print the document as needed.

Unlock Online

Step 1

Open your Web browser and go to a site that enables you unlock encrypted or password-protected PDF files. Free websites like FoxyUtils.com, CrackMyPDF.com and PDFUnlock.com let you upload encrypted PDF files and remove the passwords from the files within a few seconds.

Step 2

Click "Browse" or "Select File" on the main page of the PDF unlocker website. Use the file browser window that opens to locate the encrypted PDF file on your hard drive, and then click "Open" or "Upload."

Step 3

Click "Crack," "Remove Password," "Remove Encryption" or another similarly named button or link on the PDF unlocker site. Wait a few seconds for the server upload the encrypted PDF file and remove the permissions password for the document.

Step 4

Click the appropriate download link on the PDF unlocker site. Depending on which unlocker site you use, the link may be labeled "Download Cracked Version," "Download the PDF with Removed Restrictions" or something similar. Choose the folder on your hard drive in which you want to save the unlocked version of the PDF file and then click "Save" or "Download." Wait a few seconds for your Web browser to download the unlocked PDF and save it to the selected folder.

Launch a PDF editor application such as Adobe Acrobat or Foxit. Open the unlocked PDF file in the application and edit as needed.

Unlock with a Desktop Application

Step 1

Open your Web browser and download an application that lets you unlock or decrypt PDF documents. Free PDF Unlocker, PDF Password Removal Tool and PDFCrack are applications that enable you to unlock virtually any encrypted PDF document with a few mouse clicks. Download the setup file for the PDF unlocking program and save it to your computer.

Step 2

Press "Windows-E" to open File Explorer. Click "Downloads," and then double-click the setup file for the PDF unlocking application. Follow the on-screen prompts to install the PDF cracking program on your computer. Restart the PC if prompted.

Step 3

Launch the PDF unlocking program on the computer. Click "Open File" or "File to Unlock" on the toolbar. Alternatively, click "File" on the menu bar, and then select "Open." Browse to the PDF document you want to unlock, select it and click "Open."

Step 4

Click the "Save As" or "Save To" button if applicable. Select the folder in which you want to save the new PDF file and change the file name if needed. Click the "OK" button.

Step 5

Click "Unlock" or "Start" button, and then wait a few seconds for the unlocking program to remove the encryption from the PDF document and create an unlocked version of the file in the selected folder.

Close the PDF unlocking application and edit the new unencrypted version of the PDF file as needed.


  • Some desktop PDF unlocking programs add an entry to the Windows context menu in File Explorer. With these applications, you can unlock PDF documents directly from File Explorer without opening the PDF cracking program itself. To do this, right-click the file in File Explorer, and then select "Unlock" or "Crack PDF" on the pop-up menu.


Photo Credits

  • Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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