How to take a password off a PDF

Passwords can be attached to Portable Document Format, or PDF, files to prevent unauthorised access to, or editing of, sensitive and confidential information. This feature can only be disabled by users who know the original password and have the necessary administrative privileges or permission to remove it from the document. There are a couple of ways to turn off passwords, depending on whether the file has an "Open" or "Permissions" password.

Open the PDF file you wish to remove the password from and move your mouse cursor to the "Tools" option in the upper navigation bar.

Choose "Protection" from the list then click on "Encrypt" and "Remove". Alternatively, move your cursor to the "Security" tab of the "Document Properties" panel and select "No Security" from the "Security Method" menu. Click the "OK" button to complete the "Open" document password removal process.

Key in the password when prompted if the document has a "Permissions" password. Click "OK" and then confirm your request by clicking "OK" again.


PDF files that are protected by a server-based security policy can only be changed by the policy author or a server administrator.


Several companies sell software programs that promise to remove passwords from PDF documents but this could result in the user breaking data protection laws.

Things You'll Need

  • Password
  • Adobe Acrobat X
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About the Author

News, business and sports journalist James Andrews began writing professionally in 1996. His articles have appeared in the "Coventry Evening Telegraph," "Daily Mail," "Newcastle Evening Chronicle," "The Sun," "Herald Sun," "Football Business" magazine and online at He holds a National Certificate in newspaper journalism from the National Council for the Training of Journalists.