Do you want to remove password protection from a PDF file on your Mac? In this tutorial, we show you how to convert a password-protected PDF file to a basic non-password alternative.
How to remove password from PDF on Mac (if you know the password)
Use any of the following four methods to delete a PDF’s password and save it as a regular, password-free PDF.
Use Mac’s Preview app
Here’s how to remove the password from a PDF on Mac in macOS Monterey and later:
1) Open the PDF in Preview. To do this, double-click a PDF file or right-click on its name > Open With > Preview.
2) Enter the PDF’s password and press the enter key.
3) From the top menu bar, click File > Export.
4) Click Permissions.
5) Under Owner Password, enter the PDF’s password. After that, click Apply.
6) Optional: You can set a different name and choose a location.
7) Finally, click Save to export the unlocked PDF with no password.
Important: In step 3 above, you can also choose Print > click PDF and choose Save as PDF > Save. But in a few rare cases, the PDF you export using this method may not allow you to select the text, etc. Therefore we illustrated a slightly lengthier process. But in many cases, the print option should work just fine (we use the same trick in the next two methods below).
Note: The steps slightly differ if you’re on an older version of macOS. After step 3, make sure to rename the file and also ensure the Encrypt option is unchecked. When you’re happy with the name and have unchecked Encrypt, you can click the blue Save button.
Follow these steps to remove the password from a PDF using the Safari browser:
1) Open Safari on your Mac and press Command + O.
2) Select the password-protected PDF and click Open.
3) Enter the PDF password to unlock it.
4) Press Command + P.
5) Click the PDF dropbox and choose Save as PDF.
6) Give any desired name, choose a location, and click Save to have the password-less PDF.
Use Google Chrome
Like Safari, you can also use Google Chrome to remove the password from a PDF. Here’s how:
1) Drag and drop a locked PDF onto the Google Chrome screen or press Command + O to open a locked PDF.
2) Type the PDF’s password and click Submit.
3) Click the print icon from the top right or press Command + P.
4) With Save as PDF checked, click Save > Save to get the PDF file without its password.
Use iLovePDF to unlock the PDF
Besides the above offline options, you can also use iLovePDF to unlock a password-protected PDF.
1) Visit the Unlock PDF page on iLovePDF.com.
2) Drag and drop the locked PDF here or click Select PDF File and choose from your Finder folder.
3) Click Unlock PDF.
4) When asked, enter the PDF’s password and click Send.
5) Finally, click Download unlocked PDFs.
How to remove password from PDF on Mac if you don’t know the password
Up to now, you have seen how to remove a password from a PDF when you know the password. But there can be situations when you just forgot or lost the PDF’s password. In these situations, you’re pretty much locked out!
In most cases, I suggest going back to the source of the locked PDF and seeing the guidelines there. For example, whenever I request my bank’s statement, it’s sent via a password-protected PDF to my email. In the email, there are clear directions on how to open it.
If nothing above works for you, you can try an app called PDF Password Remover by cisdem. I extensively tested the free version of the app, and it works but with some challenges (mentioned below).
Here is how to decrypt a locked PDF whose password you have forgotten:
1) Download, install, and open PDF Password Remover.
2) Drag and drop the locked PDF or click Add Files and choose the locked PDF.
3) Click the red lock and gear icon next to the PDF.
4) Click Forgot.
5) Take a guess of how long the PDF’s password is and set the max value.
6) Click Decrypt.
7) Once that’s done, click Remove > Continue (if you’re on the free version, which lets you export half of the PDF up to 3 pages).
The unlocked PDF is saved at the chosen location (by default, it’s the Cisdem PDF Password Remover folder inside Mac’s Documents folder).
In my testing, the app seems to take the following time (under default settings) to decrypt and unlock a locked PDF whose password you don’t know:
- If the PDF’s forgotten password is up to 3 digits, this app can decrypt and unlock it in under a minute.
- If the PDF’s forgotten password is up to 4 digits, it can take an hour to decrypt.
- And if the PDF’s forgotten password is more than 5 digits, the app says it will take more than a day (to try millions of password combinations).
The problem is, almost all critical and professional PDFs (like bank statements, contracts, and such) have big passwords (almost certainly more than 5 digits). And even if you prevent your Mac from falling sleep and keep the software running, there is no guarantee that it will decrypt the file. Maybe after running for hours, it can simply show an error (because you failed to check the right guess boxes while starting the process or the app failed in its task).
So, I don’t have a solid opinion about this app. I would just say that it worked for me for small PDF passwords (up to 4 digits). While testing, I didn’t keep my Mac awake for more than a day to unlock a PDF whose password is 5 digits or more.