PDFs are useful for many reasons, but one is the ability to password protect a file so that only those with the password can view what it contains.

That's called a user password.

It's also possible to prevent people from copying, editing and printing a PDF. No password is required to view the file, but you'll find those functions are locked out if the owner has chosen to protect the document.

That's called an owner password.

The simple fact is that you need to know the user password to unlock a PDF that's secured, but it is possible to get around owner password restrictions so that you can edit, copy text and images and print a protected PDF.

How can I view a password-protected PDF?

As we just said, unless you can find out the password from the person who set it, or you manage to remember a password you forget, there aren't really many options.

You could try and use one of the many utilities available to download online which claim to be able to unlock secure PDFs, but most do so using a brute-force method. That can take hours or days, so if you're in a hurry this may not be suitable anyway. One such free tool is PDFCrack.

However, let's say you do know the password and want to create a version of the PDF that isn't password protected. In this case, you can upload the file to PDF Unlocker.

How to unlock a secure PDF

Then, when prompted, enter the password. The site will generate a copy of the file which isn't password protected which you can download and share.

How do I print or copy from a secure PDF?

If your document restricts you from printing, copying of content on the page or editing that content, it may be possible to lift those restrictions using the tools we mentioned above.

Again, drag and drop your file onto the area shown on the site and if it can remove the restrictions it will allow you to do so.

Bear in mind that some tools which run in Windows will delete your PDF if you do not have permission to print or copy it, so uploading the file to an online tool is recommended as your local copy is safe.

There are other sites which offer to remove the owner password from a PDF including:

How to unlock a secure PDF

You might also be interested in knowing how to extract certain pages from a PDF and how to make a PDF file smaller.