6 easy ways to How to remove a PDF password

6 min read

Do you often work with protected PDFs and find it tedious to enter passwords each time? Consider removing the protection from your files when it's appropriate and safe. We'll show you how to remove passwords from PDFs in 6 different ways. Note: This is not about cracking files; it's about legitimately unlocking PDF documents for which you already have the password.

How to remove a password from a PDF with Nitro PDF Pro

If password removal is just the first step in your PDF journey, we highly recommend Nitro PDF Pro. It's a superhero tool that can protect and modify your files in almost any way you need.

First, it's great for working with sensitive information: you can add an electronic signature, redact sensitive data, apply a watermark, and so on. Second, Nitro PDF Pro combines dozens of editing features that you usually have to get separately in other apps: OCR, merging with other PDFs, adding annotations, and more.

But let's get back to the subject at hand. Here's how to remove a password from a PDF using Nitro PDF Pro:

  1. Download and install Nitro PDF Pro.
  2. Open the PDF file with Nitro PDF Pro.
  3. Enter the password.
  4. Click the Inspector tab in the upper right corner, then click the lock icon.
  5. Create and enter an owner password.
  6. Edit the permissions by checking the appropriate boxes.

Edit PDF permissions in Nitro PDF Pro

Your file is now unlocked, and you won't need to enter the password the next time you open it.

If you need to encrypt the file again, you can set up multiple access levels. You can set a User Password required to open and view the document and an Owner Password required to change document permissions. This means that as the document owner, you can restrict saving, printing, and/or copying.

In addition, your PDFs are protected with 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and updated Microsoft Rights Managed Services (RMS) 2.0 integration. This is one of the highest levels of protection available today. 

How to remove a password from a PDF using Preview

Another excellent method for managing PDF passwords is the built-in Mac tool Preview. This method is best if you only need to change the settings once and don't have special editing needs, such as adding annotations or converting the file to Microsoft Office.

To remove PDF password with Preview, follow the instructions.

  1. Open your password-protected PDF with Preview (double-click the file).
  2. Enter the password.
  3. Go to File > Export. Make sure the Format field is set to PDF.
  4. Click Permissions.
  5. Check the boxes corresponding to the permissions you want to grant.
  6. Create and enter an Owner Password.
  7. Click Apply.

remove PDF password with Preview

When you save, you can replace the protected PDF with a new unlocked file. Alternatively, you can create a new file with a new name and keep the protected version.

How to remove the PDF password in Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat is one of the most reliable ways to manage PDFs (do not confuse it with free Acrobat Reader). It has a rich set of tools but is quite expensive – starting at $20 monthly. We recommend trying the free 7-day trial first. Keep in mind that the installation file is heavy, and the setup process may take some time – this is normal.

Here's how to remove known owner & user password from PDF in Acrobat: 

  1. Open your PDF file in Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Enter the password.
  3. On the left sidebar, click Protect a PDF > Set security properties.
  4. In the Security Method drop-down, choose No Security.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Save your PDF.
edit document properties in Adobe Acrobat

Documents created with Adobe Acrobat may have more than one level of security. Therefore, after step 4, Acrobat may ask you for a Permission Password.

This means that the document's owner has allowed you to view and perform some actions with the file, but has prohibited you from changing the file access parameters. In this case, you'll need to ask the owner for the Permission Password to unlock a locked PDF.

How to unlock PDF with Google Chrome

Google Chrome users will love the quick and easy way to remove a PDF password through the browser.

  1. Drag the document into the Chrome window.
  2. Type the password.
  3. Click the printer icon in the upper right corner.
  4. Choose which pages to save: all or selected.
  5. Click Save, specify the name and location of the document, and confirm the save again.

save as PDF in Chrome

You're done! Note that you now have two versions of the PDF: the one with the password and the new one that doesn't have it. If you don't need the original file, delete it to avoid cluttering up your storage space on your Mac.

How to remove the PDF password protection with Safari

Safari's way to remove security from PDF is similar to Chrome's but offers more options.

  1. Drag the document into the Safari window.
  2. Type the password.
  3. Press Command+P.
  4. Specify document parameters, if necessary. You can change the paper size, layout direction, scaling, orientation, and more.
  5. Click the PDF button in the lower left corner.
  6. Specify the name and location of the document and confirm saving.

save as PDF in Safari

Again, you will get a duplicate file, but without the password.

How to remove PDF password with Terminal

If you'd like to unlock a PDF with the Terminal, we have instructions for you, too. The most important thing is to follow each step exactly as described because every character and space matters.

Here's how to remove password protection from PDF with Terminal:

  1. Open Terminal and install Homebrew by entering the following command:
    /bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/HEAD/install.sh)
  2. Pay attention to the Terminal's response. If you get the message "Warning: /opt/homebrew/bin is not in your PATH", follow the Terminal's instructions in the Next steps section.

    download Homebrew in Terminal

  3. Install qpdf by entering the following command:
    brew install qpdf
  4. Use the command below to remove the password. Replace YOUR-PASSWORD with the current password of the PDF, input.pdf with the path to your PDF, and output.pdf with the path where you want the unlocked PDF to be saved. To get the path, simply drag the PDF file into the Terminal.
    qpdf --password=YOUR-PASSWORD --decrypt input.pdf output.pdf
    download and install Homebrew with Terminal
  5. Check the output.pdf to ensure it's been decrypted and accessible without a password.

You can delete the original locked file if you no longer need it.

Remove PDF password protection: Solved

As you can see, it only takes a few minutes to open a password-protected PDF. You can do it easily using Preview on Mac, Google Chrome, or any other browser. You can even try Adobe Acrobat for more functionality. But if you want to always have the perfect set of PDF editing features at your fingertips, Nitro PDF Pro is a great choice.

Best of all, Nitro PDF Pro is free for seven days as part of a trial with Setapp, a platform with dozens of apps for Mac and iPhone. Try Setapp for free today and discover a new collection of your favorite tools.

250+ apps for $9.99
per month

Sign up to Setapp and try them for free.