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Remove Password from PDF Documents – The Complete Guide

Password protected PDF files can be a bit pain; entering the password everytime you open the file.

This can be the no.1 reason why you want to remove password from PDF documents.

The reasons are simple enough; and so is the process to remove it.

But, before you directly jump over the process of password removal from your encrypted PDF files, you should read these sections which addresses legal ethics, the types of PDF passwords which are essential before you unencrypt your PDF files.

A Little Note about Ethics

Does that PDF file belongs to you? Do you have the rights of unencrypting it?

You should have a positive answer to these questions failing which may lead to legal issues.

If you don’t own the file, and it is not password protected by you, you should think twice whether it’s right to remove the password before trying to unencrypt it.

Before starting with the process of removing passwords from your PDF documents, you first need to know the types of PDF password encryption and which of them can be unencrypted. Ignoring this may lead to a waste of time.

Types of Password Encryption in a PDF file

A PDF file can be encrypted with two types of passwords:

  1. Owner Password
  2. User Password

Owner Password

The Owner Password sets the control over the PDF file. It determines what you can/cannot do with the PDF. You don’t need a password to view an owner password encrypted PDF file.

If the owner password is set on a PDF file, the security properties of the documents can tell you what you’re restricted from.

Simple enough, these type password protection is the simplest ones and does not include heavy algorithm applications.

User Password

The User Password on the other hand, is only used to prevent anyone who doesn’t know it from opening and viewing the file.

Different types of algorithms are applied to encrypt the PDF document with user passwords with RC4 40, 128 and AES 128, 256 bit keys.

Very few softwares support AES file unencryption and that process takes too many hours (highly depends on PC config) while on the other hand most of the PDF password recovery softwares guarantee the removal of RC4 40 bit encryption as it is one of the lightest of all the four.

Which Passwords can be Removed from PDF files?

PDF documents with an owner password are the files that can unencrypted easily with a lot of free tools as well as softwares.

This is because the owner password doesn’t completely encrypts the PDF but restricts particular actions on the PDF.

If you’ve yourself set a User password on a PDF file and want to permanently remove it, that’s also possible with the tools mentioned below.

But, if you’re trying to remove a User Password from a PDF document whose password is unknown, only a few tools can remove it successfully (depends on the type of encryption).

How to Remove Password from PDF Documents

As the PDF document encryption is divided into two section – owner and user passwords, there are different methods and tools bifurcated into respective sections.

Methods to Remove Owner Password from PDF

#1 – Using Web Browser

This method will work in the case where you own the PDF file, know it’s password and want to remove the password protection from it.

A modern browser’s functionality to of printing the document is used to save this file as a PDF on your computer resulting into creation of a non-encrypted PDF file which can be then opened without any passwords.

Steps to Remove Password from PDF File using a Web Browser:

  1. Right Click on your PDF File -> Open with -> (choose your favourite browser).
  2. The browser will ask for the password of the document, enter the password.
  3. Hover over the PDF, click on the Print icon on the top-left of the browser (alternatively Ctrl+P keys). This will open up the Print dialog box in the browser.
  4. On the right pane of the print dialog box, the first option will be “Destination” where the default selection will be your default printer (if any). Click on the “Change” button beneath it and choose “Save as PDF” from the presented locations.
  5. Now click on “Save“, choose a destination folder for the file and save it.

With this done, open that newly saved PDF file in your favourite PDF reader or browser. It’s not password protected anymore!

This is tried and tested in Chrome and Opera.

#2 – Unlock PDF

Unlock PDF from Smallpdf is a pretty simple tool that perfectly does the work.

All you need to do is upload your PDF file by dragging and dropping or selecting from the file select panel.

It will easily decrypt the Owner Password protected PDF files.

If the file is User Password protected, the tool will ask you for the password, and then after it is entered, the tool will remove the password protection completely from the file.

#3 – PDFUnlock

PDFUnlock is another similar tool that does the work of removing Owner Passwords from your PDF files.

If you upload a User Password protected PDF file, this tool won’t be able to remove passwords from such files.

The only problem is – the site has a pretty bad UI. Everything is cluttered up. Else, the tool works fine.

Tools to Remove User Password encrypted PDF files

Here’s the list of tools that unencrypt 40, 128 and 256 bit user password encrypted PDF documents.

You need high configured PC’s with latest hardwares for these softwares to work the best. It also works with low-end PC’s but will take more time. You can always take a look at the system requirements of each of the softwares’ websites mentioned below.

None of the softwares can guarantee the removal of 128 and 256 bit encrypted PDF files, although 40 bit encryption is guaranteed to be removed. These are paid tools and aren’t personally tried and tested by me.
  1. Eltima’s Recover PDF Passwords: This tool comes with the widest possible features and supports upto 256 bit encrypted PDF files.
  2. Parallel PDF Password Recovery: Another modern PDF Password Recovery software tool that supports the latest PDF versions along with GPU support.


You should only try to remove passwords from your own files. If you don’t own that file, never try to remove password from such PDF documents as that may lead to legal issues.

Do you know any other method or tools to remove password from PDF? Let us know in the comments.

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