Method 1 of 6: Finding What is Restricted
1Open the PDF. If you need a password to open the file, then you will need to download encryption-breaking software. This method is very CPU-intensive, and even the simplest passwords can take days to crack, leaving your computer unable to perform any other tasks during that time. For highly-encrypted passwords, there is little chance that it can ever be cracked.
2Check the security. If you don’t need a password to open the file, you can see if a file is secured by looking for the padlock icon. This is located at the top of the left bar if the document has security. Click the icon to see what is restricted.
- Try copying. Restricted documents are often protected against copying. If you can’t highlight or copy any text, then the document has been restricted.
- Try saving. Restricted documents cannot be saved as a text file. In order to convert it, you will need to unlock it.
Method 2 of 6: Unsecure a PDF File as the Owner or Creator
1Open the secured PDF file. You can use Adobe Acrobat to do this. You must be the creator of the document, or have the password for this method to work.
2Click the Secure button. This button is located in the Tasks toolbar. It is easily identified by the padlock icon.
- Choose the Remove Security option if you want to completely unsecure the PDF file. If you previously assigned a Permissions Password to the secure PDF file, you will have to enter it at this time to complete the process.
3Change encryption settings. If you would rather adjust the encryption settings as opposed to unsecuring the PDF file, Click on the "Permission detail" link under the Secure button.
- Click "Change settings" in Document properties under Security tab after selecting "Certificate security" in drop-down list. You may also click and select "No Security" from drop down list to fully unsecure document.
- Select your encryption level and click next.
- You will need Digital ID to encrypt document. You may use any existing ID or create a new one for you.
- Check a recipient’s trusted identity, change a recipient’s permissions or remove recipients if you want to alter these items, then click Next.
- Click Finish and OK to save your changes and close the document properties window. Save the PDF file to implement the changes you have made.
Method 3 of 6: Using Google Drive
1Open Google Drive. You will need a free Google account to access Drive. First, you will need to adjust the settings so that files are properly converted. In the top right corner, click the gear icon to open the Settings menu. Under “Upload settings” select “Convert text from uploaded PDF and image files.”
2Upload the PDF. In the left frame, click the red button with the UP arrow, next to the Create button. Select “Files…” from the drop down menu and navigate to the PDF that you would like to unlock. Drive will upload and convert the document, creating a test document in your Drive folder.
- This method only works on Owner-restricted PDFs.
- Not all formatting will be preserved.
- Google Drive has a file upload limit of 2 MB per file.
Method 4 of 6: Using PDFUnlock
1Open the website. Using your browser, go to www.pdfunlock.com. This site will unlock PDF files no larger than 5 MB for free. This works on Owner-restricted PDFs only.
2Upload the file. Drag the file into the bar, or select one of the locations provided. If you select “My Computer,” you will be able to navigate to the file on your system. If you select “Dropbox” or “Google Drive,” you will need to sign into your respective account and select the file you wish to convert.
- Click the “Unlock!” button. Uploading may take a few moments depending on your connection speed and the size of the PDF file.
3Download the converted file. After your file is uploaded, PDFUnlock will send you the converted file. Save it to your computer wherever you’d like to access it. You can differentiate the file by the word “unlocked” in the file name.
4Check the permissions. Open the newly-converted file. Under the File menu, select Properties. In the Security tab, Security Method should say No Security.
- Document Assembly, Signing, and Creation of Template Pages will still be listed as Not Allowed. This is because Adobe Reader cannot perform these actions, and they want you to purchase the Pro version.
Method 5 of 6: Using Foxit Reader and CutePDF Writer
1Download the latest versions of Foxit Reader and CutePDF Writer. These are both free programs. Foxit Reader will allow you to open the PDF file and write it to a PDF printer. CutePDF Writer is a PDF printer than bypasses security restrictions.
- Trying this process using the Adobe reader and printer will result in the security preventing the writing process.
2Use Foxit Reader to open the secured PDF file. Select File, then Print to open the printer menu. Print the secured PDF file to CutePDF Writer.
- Save the printed file to your computer as a new PDF file.
3Open your new file. You can check the security settings by clicking File, then Properties. The security settings are detailed under the Security tab.
Method 6 of 6: Using Microsoft XPS Viewer
1Open the PDF in Adobe Reader. Select File, then Print. From the Printer drop down menu, select Microsoft XPS Document Writer. This will convert the PDF into an XPS file. When you start the print, you will be prompted to save the file.
2Open the XPS file with XPS Viewer. This program comes installed with Windows. From the Tools menu, select Print. Select the PDF Printer from the list. You will need either Adobe Acrobat or another PDF writer such as CutePDF.
3Save the file. After being prompted for a filename, the document will be converted back to PDF. The newly-converted PDF will be unsecured.
- This method might not work for some security measures applied on the original Secure PDF file.
- If you tried to make changes to you a PDF file for which you are the owner or creator, only to find that you lost your permissions password, you are not completely out of luck. There are programs available that will help you recover your password—for a price. You can find one to help you recover your lost password by performing a search engine query for keywords like “recover PDF password”.