How to Unlock a Secure PDF File


This wikiHow teaches you how to view or print a password-protected PDF file's contents. There are two types of secure PDFs: user-locked, which means you need a password to view the contents, and owner-locked, which means you need a password to copy, print, or otherwise modify the PDF's contents. While unlocking a user-locked PDF without the password is impossible, you can unlock an owner-locked PDF for which you've forgotten the password from within Google Chrome. If you want to remove a known user password from a PDF, Google Chrome will also work, or you can use either Soda PDF or Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Part 1
Using Google Chrome

Using Google Chrome on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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Google Chrome is the only browser in which you can use the "Print" feature to remove the owner password from your PDF.

Using Google Chrome on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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Go to in your computer's web browser. This will open your Google Drive page if you're logged into your Google account. If you aren't already logged into your Google account, you'll need to click Go to Drive and then enter your email address and password.

Using Google Chrome on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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This will add the file to Google Drive. You can also click New in the top right corner of the Google Drive Window, click File Upload, select your PDF, and click OK to upload it.

Using Google Chrome on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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Doing this will open the PDF inside of Google Chrome. If your PDF is user-locked, you'll need to enter a password and click Submit to view its contents.

Using Google Chrome on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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Once the PDF opens, press either Ctrl+P (Windows) or ⌘ Command+P (Mac). You should see a "Print" window pop up.

Using Google Chrome on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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This option is beneath the "Destination" heading on the left side of Chrome. A menu will appear.

Using Google Chrome on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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This option is under the "Local Options" heading in the "Select a Destination" menu.

Using Google Chrome on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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It's in the top-left corner of the window. Doing so will download the PDF to your computer as an unsecure file; you should now be able to print, edit, and copy text from the PDF. You may have to select a save location before your file properly downloads.

Part 2
Using Soda PDF for a User Password

Using Soda PDF for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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Go to in your computer's web browser.

Using Soda PDF for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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It's a green button on the right side of the page. Doing so prompts a File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac) window to open.

Using Soda PDF for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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In the window that opens, go to the location in which your PDF is stored, then click the PDF once to select it.

Using Soda PDF for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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It's in the bottom-right corner of the window. Doing so uploads your selected PDF to Soda PDF.

Using Soda PDF for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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In the text box which appears, type in the password used to unlock the PDF. If you don't know the user password, you cannot unlock the PDF.

Using Soda PDF for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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This green button is below the password text box. Soda PDF will remove the encryption from the PDF.

Using Soda PDF for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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It's on the right side of the page. Doing so will prompt the unlocked PDF to download onto your computer, where you'll be able to open it without entering a password. Depending on your browser's settings, you may have to select a save location or confirm the download before the PDF will download.

Part 3
Using Adobe Acrobat for a User Password

Using Adobe Acrobat for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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This is the paid version of Adobe Acrobat; if you only have the Adobe Acrobat Reader, you won't be able to unlock your PDF with this method.

Using Adobe Acrobat for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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This option is in the top-left corner of the window (or the screen on a Mac). Clicking it prompts a drop-down menu. Alternatively, if your PDF reader has a "Recently Viewed" tab, you can check there to see if the PDF you need is displayed.

Using Adobe Acrobat for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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If you elected to look for the PDF in the "Recently Viewed" section, skip this step.

Using Adobe Acrobat for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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Doing so will prompt the PDF to open in Adobe Acrobat. You may have to select a new directory (e.g., Desktop or Documents) first to locate the PDF in question.

Using Adobe Acrobat for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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Type in the password needed to unlock the PDF, then click OK. If you don't know the user password, you cannot unlock the PDF.

Using Adobe Acrobat for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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It's on the left side of the screen beneath the "Home" tab.

Using Adobe Acrobat for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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This is a link below the "Security Settings" heading.

Using Adobe Acrobat for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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It will say something like "Password Security".

Using Adobe Acrobat for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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This should be an option in the drop-down menu that appears.

Using Adobe Acrobat for a User Password on How to Unlock a Secure PDF File

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Type in the PDF's password, then click OK twice. As long as your password was correct, your PDF will no longer have a password lock on it.