Passwords protect encrypted PDF files.

Password protection is one of the first lines of defense for a document that contains sensitive information. If you regularly handle private forms or documents, passwords are essential. When a document doesn’t need a password anymore, you can remove that step to make it more accessible.

Not all documents need password protection, but it’s a vital security tool in certain situations. Consider that you might want to protect a PDF document with a password:

  • To ensure that only certain people can view sensitive information, regardless of operating system
  • To share tax and 401(k) info, sales reports, or medical documents
  • To share a child’s information with a school
  • To prevent a document from being copied to another application, as well as to keep it from being printed without permission
  • To keep information safe from hacking

If you’re working with PDFs, Adobe Acrobat makes it easy to set passwords for documents. For a finer degree of document access control, like setting permissions for content, Acrobat Pro is a necessary tool.

An example of removing the security from a PDF document in Adobe Acrobat

Why remove a PDF password?

Password removal is one of those questions people wonder about, but are often afraid to ask. While it may sound like a suspicious question, more often than not, passwords need to be removed for benign purposes.

The most common reason to remove a password from protected PDF files is a simple one: You no longer need a password for that information. Perhaps a document is public and its information is no longer considered sensitive or private. It may no longer be shared with anyone, or it might just not need to be secure. At that point, it’s time to remove the lock.

How to remove PDF passwords.

Removing or unlocking a password requires you to have the appropriate permissions to do so. If you don’t have those, you’ll need to locate a policy author or administrator of the secured PDF to make this happen. Then, follow these steps:

1. Open the PDF in Acrobat Pro on Windows or Mac.

A computer dropdown menu shows the “Open” option

2. Choose Tools › Encrypt › Remove Security.

A Document Properties menu shows the document Security options

3. If the document has a Document Open password, click OK to remove it.

The Password Security Settings menu shows the Document Open password field

4. If the document has a permissions password, type the correct password in the Enter Password box and then click OK.

The screen shows the Document Open Password being filled in

After those steps, congratulations, you’ll have an unlocked PDF. Now, just be sure to save the document so others can access it as well.

Avoid using PDF password remover tools, converters, or other online tools you might find elsewhere, as they can often fail to unlock PDFs and potentially create larger security risks.

Adding a password to a PDF document in Adobe Acrobat

Setting restrictions and protections for PDF documents.

Now that you know how to remove restrictions and password protections, learn how to set them up.

Different ways to password-protect PDFs.

There are several different ways to protect PDFs from unauthorized access:

  • You can encrypt and decrypt PDFs with a certificate or password that recipients of a document must enter before opening or viewing the document.
  • You can create an “open” password, which requires a user to enter a password before opening the document.
  • You can create permissions and PDF restrictions within Acrobat Pro that create guardrails for printing, editing, or copying PDF contents.

Editing restrictions for PDFs.

If password protection doesn’t quite fit the bill, Acrobat Pro lets you create PDF protections like permissions, watermarks, and editing restrictions that help you control access.

In the Changes Allowed menu, you can prevent all changes, keep users from inserting, deleting, and rotating pages, and restrict access to form and signature fields. Comments can also be restricted.

Additionally, for documents that will end up living online, you can encrypt document content and make it inaccessible to search engines that use metadata to index content.

Adobe Acrobat Pro is the premier tool for editing, securing, converting, and sharing PDF documents. Most organizations need a document solution, so discover resources, tools, and tricks that will help you get the most of your PDFs.