How to Unlock PDF File

To protect their work, the creators of some PDF documents will often put security settings on their PDF files. While they are allowed to be circulated, viewed, and often printed, these documents may not be edited or altered.

These creators, often professional or corporate, will choose which changes they will allow. These options or restrictions include printing, commenting, extraction, content copying, signing, filling in fields, and document assembly.

You may for example, be allowed to print or sign the document, but not allowed to extract any of its pages. Adobe Acrobat offers tools to view security properties selected by the original creators or publishers.

To change the settings and unlock protected PDF files, you must have the file’s password. This may often be provided by the creator, or perhaps a colleague, a client or a supervisor.


To Access the Security properties of the Protected PDF file:

  • 1Go to File > Properties....
Acrobat Accessing PDF Properties
  • 2View the entries below Documents Restrictions Summary. You will notice that some actions are Allowed while others are Not Allowed.
Acrobat Document Restrictions Summary
  • If provided with a password, you can make changes to these settings and unlock protected PDF files. Clicking on Show Details… in the Document Properties window will inform you of the document and security permissions attached to the file.
Acrobat Document Security Details
  • To make changes to the PDF’s restrictions:
  • 1Go to View > Tools > Protection.
  • 2In the Tools Pane, choose Encrypt > Remove Security from the Protection section.
Acrobat Remove Security Option
  • 3A new window will pop up informing you of the restrictions and asking that you enter a password. Once entered, you will then be asked to confirm. Click on OK.
Acrobat Permissions Password Dialog
  • 3Once you enter the password, the settings will change and the permissions will appear as Allowed.
PDF Document Restrictions Removed