Removing password protection from a PDF file on Mac

By , May 24, 2016

Un-password protect a PDF file on Mac

The ability to password protect PDF files is a great way to keep personal information safe from prying eyes, especially when you want to control who is and who isn’t allowed to see the contents of a file.

But on the contrary, what do you do if you want to remove password protection from a PDF file on your Mac?

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to convert a password-protected PDF file to a basic PDF file that can be opened by anyone.

Why to remove password protection from a PDF file

Although from almost every security standpoint it seems counterproductive to remove a password from a protected PDF file that was clearly protected for a reason in the first place, the content of the PDF file may not always have to remain a secret forever, and removing the password can make accessing the file faster and easier for future needs.

One example I can think of is when something is under embargo, or is supposed to be kept from a specific group of people for only a certain period of time, and when it’s finally common knowledge, security for the file is no longer going to be needed.

Such an example might include blueprints for a work project, or something that is meant to be kept a secret for a limited amount of time, and can then be publicized after the due date passes.

Whatever the case, knowing how to remove a password from a password-protected PDF file is a good skill to know, whether you’ll be using it in the future or not.

How to remove a password from a PDF file

If you’ve decided to remove a password from an existing password-protected PDF file,then you’ll need to at least know the password to the file. Unfortunately, breaking into encrypted PDF files is not easy unless you know the password for the file, but if you do, then it’s easy to unencrypt.

To un-encrypt a PDF file, follow these steps:

1) Locate the encrypted PDF file you want to unencrypt, and open it in Preview on your Mac.

Open Encrypted PDF With Preview on Mac

2) Preview will prompt you to enter the password to open the file, so enter your password:

Preview app enter password for PDF file

3) Once you’re in the file, go to File > Export from the Menu Bar.

Export PDF file

4) Make sure to rename the file, then make sure the Encrypt option is unchecked. When you’re happy with the name and have unchecked Encrypt, you can click the blue Save button.

Unencrypt PDF file on Mac before Export

5) The new PDF file that you’ve created is an exact copy of the PDF file you were just in, but it’s no longer a password-protected PDF file. Anyone can open this file if you send it to them without a password:

Unencrypted PDF file

And now you’re ready to unencrypt any password-protected PDF file you know the password to!

Take note that the newly-created unencrypted PDF file doesn’t have an icon with a lock on it like an encrypted PDF file does, but instead shows a preview of the PDF file in the app icon itself.

Wrapping up

If you’ve ever wanted to remove a password from an encrypted PDF file you’ve made, then it’s pretty simple to do as you’ve just learned.

On the other hand, please do keep in mind you still need to know the initial password to do this, so this method doesn’t work if you don’t belong in the PDF file to begin with.

Also read: Convert PDF files to Word files in iOS

Do you use encrypted PDF files often? Do you ever need to unencrypt them? Share in the comments!

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  • crcking

    thank you

  • veggiedude

    Can’t you do a print command and from the dialog box choose “save as PDF”?

    • Timothy

      Printing is often disabled on protected PDFs for this reason.

  • Miras safadi

    But what if i forgot the password? Isn’t there a way to access it?

    • Timothy

      Well, it’s kind of the *point* of it that there isn’t a way to access it without the password…

    • If you forgot the user password then there isn’t any way but if you forgot the owner password then there are some options.

  • Bernice, it somehow worked for me. Thanks.