How to "unlock" a secured PDF file

This is article describes how to “unlock” a secured PDF file, and gain full access to print it, modify it, and copy selected portions of text from it, without paying anything to buy any of this (so called) “pdf cracking software”.

You are going to need the help of the Evince Document Viewer that comes with Ubuntu Linux. If you are already using Ubuntu Linux, good for you! If you are not using it, you can ask a friend of yours with Ubuntu installed to help you. Otherwise, you can dive in deep water and try the Live CD that will do the job for you (no installation required).

A “secured” PDF file will look like this if you open it in Adobe Reader:


Boot in your Ubuntu Linux (or boot from the Live CD if you don’t want Ubuntu Linux installed). Open your locked PDF from Ubuntu using the standard document viewer, Evince. From the menu go to File → Print… From the printers list select Print to File:


Enter the output filename and make sure that you have selected PDF as Output Format. Click Print and you will get a verbatim copy of the original file, only this time it will be free of any restrictions. This is one more practical example that demonstrates how Ubuntu Linux can significantly improve your life…

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54 Responses to How to "unlock" a secured PDF file

  1. Andrewzs says:


    I have a problem with this procedure. I have original secured .pdf document in which I can choose TEXT and so it seems that this PDF was made directly from text. BUT, when I print this document to file in Evince I get PDF, where I CANNOT choose text and cannot do OCR on it, because the quality (so it says) is too low. And OCR option isn’t really good option, because I have text in Slovenian language, which I would like to copy directly from .pdf. What do you think about this?

    The file is located here:

    Btw, great tip 🙂

  2. giannis says:

    Yea, I tried it myself and I see what you mean.
    Well, this specific PDF looks like an exceptional case, because it seems to contain scanned text and digital text at the same time (and that’s why you’re able to select text in the original), but this additional information seems to be trimmed in the pdf-printing process. I tried with both Evince in Ubuntu and BullZip in Windows and both created a PDF with non-selectable text.
    Sorry but I have no idea what you should do in this case 🙁

  3. Andrewzs says:

    Thanks for the effort,
    greetz from Slovenia. 🙂

  4. lukerazor says:

    Works OK but you lose the index information 🙁

  5. Celso Timana says:

    My wife came to me with a PDF that she couldn’t print. Since I am Linux Freax I didn’t want waste money buying some Windows tools. I just googled around and … boom … I found this article.

    Thanks, within few minutes I managed to print the file.

  6. nmd says:

    In case you don’t have Ubuntu … just use to unlock the file!

    • noor says:


      Thanks a lot. It was so easy through this site. My husband said it is not possible and I have to take snapshot of every page to get the print of this secured pdf book. Now I got it… I am able to take the print from the book. thanks a lot.

    • Jaka says:

      I tried a book rented from Dawsonera and got the response: The uploaded file seems to be subject to a non-standard encryption from a 3rd party

  7. alex says:

    I heard that evince is about to release a windows version, too.
    This method works great, but the output is usually much larger in file size, and there seems no way to handle it.
    Ωραίο site, well done Γιάννη.

  8. vivyno88 says:

    PDF authors often restrict their files using PDF security features preventing users from copying, editing or printing the contents, and like every other protection this can also be easily bypassed, there exist several methods to crack or unlock PDF files,but if you are looking for a simple and fast way to just bypass the restrictions of the PDF file,Advanced PDF Password Remover 5.0 by Advanced pdf converter will be the best option.

  9. Angel622 says:

    pdf password recovery 5.0

  10. Zhuismile says:

    I found this PDF Password Recovery is very useful.

  11. Joe says:

    OMG u rock my world! this worked PERFECTLY!!!!!

  12. John says:

    Thanks, I also found this to be a great tip and time saver.

  13. Me says:

    Great! I owe you one. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with the world. 🙂

  14. Deivis Adames says:

    Excelente! Me funcionó en ubuntu 10.04

  15. Theodore says:

    This doesn’t work; when I pull down the File menu in evince, the Print option is greyed out and inactive. Got any other great ideas?

  16. crious says:

    I have download Advanced PDF Password Remover 5.0 to try,it is guite useful to me

  17. bozack says:

    It doesn’t work in version 0.6.0 evince on my CentOS – the print option is shaded out, just as it is in Adobe Reader on any of my other OS’es. 🙁

  18. joe says:

    Awesome. Try Ubuntu if it doesn’t work with other distributions. It is weird though. Ubuntu, Trisquel, and similar distributions are much better.

  19. fiona says:

    Ubuntu Linux is not the system I am using, but this is a great post reveals the trick of it to unlock secured PDF files to us.

    But for the windows 7/Xp users like me, I also found some necessary softwares to unlock PDF files, it’s very efficient to do this.

    1.PDF Password Remover

    2. PDF to Word Converter that also deal with restricted files and it’s convenient for further editing.

  20. Daisy says:

    There are many other workarounds we can use to break PDF security, I just find a PDF converter with password removing feature to convert PDF to Word docuent for editing, I think it is one stop solution for us, a free version of it for personal use.

  21. Pamella says:

    I have found an excelent PDF Unlocker softare, Many thanks to this brilliant utility as it has saved me many hours of sufferings on the keyboard here is link for this program –

  22. Ζήσης says:

    Συγχαρητήρια αγαπητέ Γιάννη. Συγχαρητήρια!
    Χρησιμοποιώ Windows τόσο στο σπίτι, όσο και στη δουλειά, αλλά τελευταία χρησιμοποιώ και προσπαθώ να εξοικειωθώ με τα Linux με τη βοήθεια του VirtualBox. Ο λόγος που αρχικά με ώθησε στην χρήση του Ubuntu ήταν το εξαιρετικό από κάθε άποψη πρόγραμμα γενεαλογίας Gramps. Το θεωρώ ανώτερο από όλα τα προγράμματα του είδους που κυκλοφορούν, εμπορικά ή μη.
    Και πάλι συγχαρητήρια για το εξαιρετικό κολπάκι. Με βοήθησε πολύ στην γεγεαλογική μου έρευνα καθώς οι γηραιότεροι δεν μπορούν να διαβάσουν PDF αρχεία επί της οθόνης αλλά χρειάζονται την παλιά, καλή, εκτύπωση 🙂

  23. Darun Smith says:

    I Use a great Unlocker TOOL – PDF Unlocker. It is very useful. For Example, if your PDF File ptotected with owner password, you can unlock it only in one click. And if it is protected with user password -you can choose one of the search methods, that approach to you. And it really will be much cheapper,than you pay.

  24. GH says:

    Another solution, platform-independent and requires no software download, installations nor registrations is FoxyUtils UnlockPDF. Check it out at:

  25. Unlock secured pdf files with this powerful utility …here is link to make use of this tool …

  26. Kamalarajan says:

    A good utility that i was searching for. Great thanks.

  27. Very good tip. I translate it to portuguese on my on site. Congratulations! (I leave the link back for you!).

  28. Dabby Paker says:

    yes, it’s a very good tip to unlock PDF password security…….here is link to make use of this PDF Password Unlocker tool…….

  29. Paul Wilson says:

    Sweeeeeet. A very handy linux tip indeed. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Jaqline Fernandez says:

    For Unlocking the secured PDF file , the best, easy & working tool i got is available at

    Being an IT professional of having more than 10 years of experience i really love this tool & i highly recommend this tool. Kudoz to team of this product..


  32. Kaybee says:

    Brilliant, I was running Ubuntu in a virtual machine, managed to print to file and remove the password easily! Many thanks!

  33. Ronny Desouza says:

    Though i tried various tools to unlock the secured pdf for removing Print,Copy,Edit PDF Restrictions but none worked. Then i found the great & effective tool which unlocks the PDF in 3 easy steps no matter of the encryption applied on PDF i.e. PDF Unlock Tool available at

  34. Chandra Sekhar says:

    Hey, Thanks to the great suggestions, did the trick . thanks to nmd thanks to this forum

  35. Cliff says: worked perfect fpr me. Quick and easy. Thanks loads

  36. Guru says:

    I want to know in microsoft windows without installing any software can we unlock the secured pdf.

    As my does not allow to install any software and my work related with pdf files only..

    So please help me…

  37. mehran says:

    thanks a lot . it worked for me in centOS but not with ” Evince Document Viewer ” , i tried “KGhostView 2”
    wow it worked.

  38. Adom says:

    All restrictions in a PDF file added due to owner password. Owner password is encryption type level that disables edit, copy, print, cut, extract functioning in a pdf file. To unlock a pdf file, a valid pdf unlocker tool is required whenever Adobe Acrobat is not installed in your pc. My personal experience with This Window utility is perfect. Tool works in single step and unlocks pdf file in a moment.

  39. Mike Hussy says:

    PDF is important file format. Organization generally use PDF format to send and receive crucial data. But many time users cant able to Print, Copy and Edit their own document because of PDF file restriction. I was also facing the same problem. I have searched so many tools in online market but PDF Unlocker is the best among them I found. I grab this utility by following this link: and easily unlock my whole restriction.

  40. vangelis says:

    i tried to manipulate a PDF/A with Acrobat 10 Pro, but unable. However i have installed also PDF Creator free from SourceForge. I put Creator as default printer, printed the document from Acrobat, and renamed it. So when I opened the new PDF with Acrobat 10, everything was ok and I was able to work with it. Hope this is a good shortcut to Linux installation.

  41. Alec Booth says:

    I had a PDF which was not allowing me copy any of its data, then I get to know about Unrestrict PDF software, which amazingly in 3 seconds removed all the restrictions from PDF document.

  42. Olive Pattionson says:

    yes agreed

  43. Johana P says:

    Guys stop complaining about the program. Yes, above mentioned program does not work but please look at the date of this article. It’s about 3 year old post.

    If you struggling with a password protected PDF file, have a look at this step by step guide:

    This program actually works!

  44. Jacobson says:

    Hi guys, try one more solution if it works for you, but it worked for me. I was unable to print pdf file and using this solution amazed me, helpful for everyone, print button was enabled:

  45. Zescrom says:

    Thank you very much!. Worked perfectly in my case!

  46. Henrique Maia says:

    Such a simple solution with such a great result. Thanks for sharing this trick. Quoting from you, because I feel the same, “This is one more practical example that demonstrates how […] Linux can significantly improve your life…”.

  47. rishikha says:

    Try Aplus PDF Password Remover software to unlock a secured PDF files. You can easily remove user/owner password from PDF files. You can follow below link to understand the step by step functionality of software to remove password from secured PDF. It provides fast and perfect solution. I used it from 2 years and very much satisfied.

  48. adminon says:

    The Company has been providing several data recovery solutions to users. One of the reliable software launched by the same organization is PDF Unlocker that allows user to remove PDF restrictions on the files.

  49. Max Smith says:

    Try PDFChamp tool which is a complete PDF solution to remove PDF restrictions , lock PDF file & convert PDF file to image & much more.  For more information visit:

  50. Rylan King says:

    SysTools PDF Restriction Remover one of the best PDF unlocker Tool. Try its free demo version.

  51. John Doy says:

    I had a PDF which was not allowing me to copy any of its data, then I get to know about Unrestrict PDF software, which amazingly in 3 seconds removed all the restrictions from PDF document.

    Here is site:

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