How To Remove a PDF Password (Multiple Methods Plus Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 8, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Users often add passwords to files to enhance the security and integrity of their documents. Sometimes, users want to remove these password protections to make changes or share their files with others. Learning how to remove passwords on documents like PDFs can allow you to save time or make modifications when working with your files in secure spaces. In this article, we discuss PDF passwords, how to remove PDF passwords using different methods and tips for using PDF passwords.

Related: 11 of the Best Free PDF Readers

What is a PDF password?

A PDF password is a tool within various PDF-creating software used for protecting those files. Adding passwords to the PDF allows the software to encrypt the document and protect it from unwanted modifications or views. PDFs use two kinds of passwords, open and permission, that affect different aspects of the file.

Open passwords allow the original user to limit who can open and view the document. When using an open password, the document requires users to type in the password each time they want to view the document, so only users with the password have access to the document. Permission passwords restrict which functions of a PDF file users have access to based on the original user's preference. These functions include copying, editing, printing, commenting, signing or extracting pages from the document.

Related: How To Sign a PDF on Windows, Mac, Android and IOS (With Tips)

Why remove PDF passwords?

If you frequently switch between password-protected PDF files, you may spend a significant portion of your time entering the passwords for each document to view and modify them. You can remove the passwords from those documents and save yourself that time. You might also remove the passwords on your PDFs if you have the files in a secure storage location, or to give others the ability to change your documents.

You can remove the permission password to allow others to print, edit or comment on the document, or you can remove the open password and keep the permission password to allow other users to view the document. Removing the permission password and keeping the open password allows trusted users to view the document and then change it as needed.

Related: How To Type on a PDF (With Step-by-Step Instructions)

How to remove a PDF password

One key aspect of removing passwords on PDF files is ensuring you remember the original password for the file. Most PDF password removal methods require you to enter the password at the start of the process. Here are several methods to remove PDF passwords:

Adobe Acrobat Reader

Here are the steps to remove a PDF password on Acrobat Reader:

  1. Open the PDF file in Acrobat Reader.

  2. Open the "Unlock" tool, then choose "Tools," "Protect," "Encrypt" and then "Remove Security" as each becomes available from "Tools."

  3. After selecting "Remove Security," enter the document's open password in the "Document Open Password" box and click "OK" to remove the password.

  4. Also under "Remove Security," you can remove the permission password by typing the password into the "Enter Password" box.

  5. After removing the password, click the "OK" button twice, first to enter the password and second to confirm the action.

Adobe Acrobat Pro

Adobe Acrobat Pro is a paid application that differs from the free Acrobat Reader. Use these steps to remove a PDF password with Acrobat Pro:

  1. Launch Acrobat Pro and open the PDF you want to decrypt, then enter the password to view the document.

  2. Click the Lock icon on the left side of the file and choose "Permission Details." You can also click on the "File" menu, then select "Properties" and then the "Security" tab.

  3. In the "Security Method" box, select "No Security" and then "OK" to remove the current password from the PDF.

  4. Then go to the "File" menu and select "Save Changes." This removes the password from the original file.

Wondershare PDFelement

Here are the steps to remove PDF passwords with PDFelement:

  1. Launch PDFelement, then drag and drop your PDF file into the program window or choose the file from the "Open Files" option. Open the PDF and enter the open password.

  2. If the file has a permission password, click the "Enable Editing" button on the notification bar, then enter the password and click "OK."

  3. Go to the "Protect" tab and click the "Set Password" button, then deselect the "Open Password" and "Permission Password" to remove restrictions and click the "Save" button.

Wondershare PDF Password Remover

Use these steps to use PDF Password Remover to remove passwords:

  1. Launch the PDF Password Remover application, then import single files or batches of files using the "Add Files" button.

  2. After adding all PDFs you want to remove passwords from, look for a Lock icon in the "Item" column. Items with the Lock icon require the open password first.

  3. Select the files to remove passwords from and click the "Start" button to begin removing passwords from the selected files.

Password removal sites

Here are the steps you can take to remove PDF passwords with password removal sites:

  1. Enter "PDF password removal" into your search engine, then choose the website that best fits your requirements.

  2. Many password removal sites allow you to browse files from your computer or drag and drop a file into the dialog box, so choose your PDF file and add it to the site and hit "Enter."

  3. After adding the file and hitting "Enter," the site works on decrypting the file and removing the password.

Other OS or programs

There's a trick you can use with most operating systems, browsers or PDF readers, however this only works for PDF files that don't have printing restrictions. Here's how to use this method to remove PDF passwords:

  1. Open the PDF file on your preferred platform and enter the open password.

  2. Access the "Print" menu by using a keyboard shortcut, opening the "File" menu or clicking on the printer icon.

  3. When the "Print" window appears, go to "Destination" and click "Change," then select "Save to PDF" from the options.

  4. Click the "Save" button and give a new name and location to your new PDF. The new PDF file has the same content as the original without requiring a password.

Related: How To Convert a PDF to a Google Doc (With Steps and Tips)

Tips for using PDF passwords

Here are some tips for using passwords on your PDF files:

Save your passwords

Passwords add an extra layer of security to your PDF file. However, a password may also protect your file from you if you don't have the password. In most cases, if you forget or misplace the password for the file, it's almost impossible to open or recover the file. If your file uses an open password, you could lose total access without the open password. If your file uses a permission password and allows printing access, you might use the "Print to PDF" method above to recover it.

The best method for avoiding the lock-out situation is saving your file passwords. You can store your passwords in a secure place, either using digital methods, like password managers or encrypted files on separate drives, or analog methods, like writing the passwords down and storing them in a locked location. You may also choose to share the file password with a trusted individual to help ensure the file remains accessible.

Protect your resume PDF

Some employers require you to submit your resume as a PDF when applying, but even if they don't, you may choose to submit a PDF version of your resume. Turning your resume into a PDF provides several benefits, like protecting the formatting when uploading or emailing your resume, preventing accidental alterations to the content and ensuring that spell-checking software doesn't flag things like names or industry-specific language.

You can use a permission password to lock certain functions, like editing or annotating, or you can allow functions like printing for the document. Adding a permission password allows hiring managers or recruiters to view your resume without modifying the PDF.

Read more: How To Create a Resume PDF and When To Use It

Add passwords to your PDFs

If you want to add passwords to future PDFs, here are the steps you can take to add passwords using Mac Preview, MS Office and Adobe Acrobat:

Mac Preview

Use these steps to add an open password to PDF files in the Preview application on MacOS:

  1. Launch the Preview app and open the PDF you want to password-protect.

  2. With the file open, click on the "File" menu, then select "Export As PDF" from the menu, click the "Show Details" button, and select "Encrypt." You can also enter a new name for the PDF if you want to add a password to a copy and keep the original file unencrypted.

  3. Alternately, you can go to "Edit Permissions" in the "File" menu, then select the "Require Password To Open Document" checkbox and create the open password for the original document.

  4. In the designated space, create and type the password you want to use, then retype the password to verify it and click "Save."

Use these steps for a permission password:

  1. Launch the Preview app and open the PDF that you want to limit permitted functions.

  2. Click on the "File" menu and select "Edit Permissions."

  3. In the "Permissions" section, select the checkbox for each function you want to restrict with a password, like editing, annotating, signing or printing.

  4. After making your selections, type and retype the password in the correct spaces and click "Apply."

  5. Go back to the "File" menu, and choose "Save" to apply these permissions to the original document. Alternately, you can use "Save As" to create a new copy of the document that has these permissions.

MS Office

You can password protect PDF files when using MS Office applications, and the process is mostly standard across all Office applications. Use these steps when adding a password to a PDF in MS Office:

  1. Open the PDF file by double-clicking the filename directly in the storage location, like your "Documents" folder.

  2. Once the PDF is open, click on the "File" tab and choose "Info" in the ribbon menu.

  3. Click the "Protect Document" button, then choose the "Encrypt with Password" option.

  4. Enter the password into the dialog box, noting the warning about losing or forgetting your password that appears, and click "OK."

  5. Retype the password in the box to confirm it and click "OK" to finish the process.

Related: How To Edit a PDF File on Windows With 2 Methods

Adobe Acrobat

Here are the steps to add a password to a PDF using Adobe Acrobat:

  1. Launch Adobe Acrobat and open the PDF file you want to password-protect.

  2. Using the "Tools" menu, select the "Protect" and then "Encrypt" options, and choose "Encrypt with Password."

  3. Sometimes, a prompt may appear after selecting "Encrypt with Password," select "Yes" under the prompt to change the document's security.

  4. Select the "Require Password to Open the Document" option, then type the password in the indicated field. A password strength meter beside the entry field evaluates the password and shows its strength.

  5. Next, set the Adobe compatibility level using the drop menu, choosing a level equal to or less than potential recipients' version of Adobe.

  6. Select "Encrypt All Document Contents" and then "OK."

  7. At the prompt, retype the password you added in step four to confirm it and then select "OK" again to finish encrypting the document.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned above are affiliated with Indeed.

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