Product Guides

How To Edit A Password-Secured PDF File (Tools Overview)

December 28, 2021
Author
Inkit Team

Looking at a secured PDF file you want to access but it's password secured?

You’ve come to the right place.

In this guide, we’ll teach you how to remove security from a PDF and edit it as if you’re the owner. Regardless of whether you know the password or not. 

At the end of the day, a lot depends on the specific PDF file and the tools you use. 

If it's password-protected with an open password and you don't have the password or have forgotten it, then it's impossible to open or edit it. In other words, it’s not meant to be edited unless you’re the author or you can’t contact the owner.

But if it’s protected with a permission password, there might be a few workarounds as we’ll cover below.

Not sure what’s the difference or how to manage your specific PDFs?

Don’t worry. We’ll cover everything you need to know about secured PDFs below!

We’ll cover:

  • What Does Securing A PDF File Do? 2 Types Of PDF Passwords You Need to Know About
  • 5 Different Ways To Edit Your Secured PDF File (Tools You Should Know About)
  •      PDFElement.
  •      Small PDF.
  •      Adobe Acrobat Pro.
  •      Foxit Phantom PDF.
  •      PDF2Go.
  • Can You Edit A Secured PDF File Without Knowing The Password? (2 Methods)
  •      Method #1 How to edit a secured PDF file with PDF Element when you don’t know the password
  •      Method #2: How to remove a password from a PDF file using Adobe Acrobat

What Does Securing A PDF File Do? 2 Types Of PDF Passwords You Need to Know About

People lock PDF files to control access to the file and what can be done to the file. 

When you encrypt your PDF with a password, it prevents unauthorized access to the document content. That way, people or bots with malicious intent cannot manipulate or share your sensitive information.

Additionally, securing PDFs also gives credibility and a sense of security. You can be certain that the secured files are authentic and not manipulated in any way. For example, if you lock a PDF after making some changes to it, the password protects the file from being altered by somebody else who has no permission to do so.

For example, people who fear copyright infringement can use the encryption tool on PDF editors to secure their files. That would prevent anybody from copying or printing parts or the whole file without permission.

Although there are various hacks to opening secured files, accessing the file depends on the level of security. Some PDF editors will allow you to encrypt your files such that they will be inaccessible to anyone without having the correct password. 

There are 2 types of PDF passwords you need to know about:

  • Open password - A document open password is a code used to restrict the opening of a PDF file.
  • Permission password - Permission password (or also known as master password), meanwhile, means you need a password to change permission settings. For example, you can restrict specific features like printing, editing, or copying content.

And how you edit or manage your secured PDFs depends on the tool you use.

So, let’s take a look at a couple of different tools and ways you can edit secured PDF files.

5 Different Ways To Edit Your Secured PDF File (Tools You Should Know About)

With good PDF editors like Adobe Acrobat, Foxit, PDFelement, Nitro, and others, you can:

  • Edit scanned documents.
  • Create, edit, annotate, print, share, and convert pdf files.
  • Sign contract and documents.
  • Interact and collect useful data through forms, boxes, buttons, and other interactive elements.
  • Protect documents with password and access secured pdf files.

Now, for convenience sake, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to edit secured PDFs specifically.

Below, we’ll cover using the following tools to edit PDF passwords:

  • PDFElement.
  • Small PDF.
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro.
  • Foxit Phantom PDF.
  • PDF2Go.

1. How to edit a password-protected PDF file with PDFElement

Wondershare allows you to access pdf documents with various editing options.

Their tool, PDFelement, in particular, is an all-in-one PDF editor you can use to access secured files.

The editor is easy to use and has all the essential features like editing, creating, converting, and annotating files.

Here’s how to edit and print secured PDF documents with PDFelement:

  1. Open your secured document using PDFelement.
  2. If the file is secured with a password, you will be required to enter it so that editing is enabled. Enter the appropriate password and send. 
  3. The barrier should be gone by now. You can edit the file as needed.
wondershare enable editing pdf

2. How to edit a password-protected PDF file using Small PDF

If you’ve got a password-protected PDF file you want to access using Small PDF, the process is simple.

You just need their desktop application and the correct passcode. You can also use the Small PDF app to edit secured files offline when you upgrade to the premium version. The editor also has special features like removing the encryption of files altogether. 

You can unlock PDF files with the tool with the following steps:

  1. Upload your secured file onto Small PDF and select the Unlock section.

2. Enter the password in the provided space.

3. Click on edit PDF to start editing the file.

4. Remember to save your new edits when you are done.

3. How to edit a password-protected PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro

Here’s how to remove a password from a PDF file using Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Note: This is a paid application and different from the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software that most people have. Though, you can use their week-long free trial of the Pro version to remove the security from a file.

Here’s how to remove the password from a PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro:

  1. Open the file in Adobe Acrobat Pro and provide the password to view it.
  2. Click the lock icon on the left side of the window and click Permission Details. You can also click File -> Properties and click the Security tab.
  3. Click the Security Method box, select No Security, and then click OK to remove the password.

You should now be able to edit the PDF file as needed.

4. How to edit a password-protected PDF file using Foxit Phantom PDF

Using Foxit PDF reader?

Here’s how to edit your password-protected PDF files with this tool:

  1. Open the secured PDF file in Foxit Phantom PDF Editor.
  2. Click on the Protect tab and select Encrypt.
  3. Select password protect to open the pop-up box.
  4. Enter the password in the box and edit your PDF as needed.

5. How to edit a password-protected PDF file using PDF2Go

You can also easily unlock a secured PDF with a free online editor or converter tool like PDF2Go. 

Here’s how:

  1. Upload the locked file on the PDF2Go website.
  2. Enter the password in the appropriate field
  3. Click submit password.
  4. Edit your pdf file as needed directly from your browser.
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Can You Edit A Secured PDF File Without Knowing The Password? (2 Methods)

Ordinarily, you should not try to access a pdf file without authorization. 

However, there are cases when the owner of the file forgets the password or they sent you the file without mentioning the password in the email.

While some editors can help you regain authorization to such a file, others will not. Also, the secured pdf file may be locked with a permission password

Fortunately, there are a few workarounds on some PDF  editors.

So, if you don’t know the password of your secured PDF file, for one reason or another, here are 3 methods you can try.

Method #1 How to edit a secured PDF file with PDF Element when you don’t know the password

Wondershare PDFelement allows you to access a secured pdf without a password, provided it is locked with a permission password

To edit a PDF document secured with a permission password, you can use the Wondershare PDF password remover.

Here’s how:

  1. Download, install and open the Wondershare pdf password remover.
  2. Click on “Add Files” and select the secured pdf document.
  3. Pick an output folder for the new pdf you are about to generate.
wondershare pdf password remover

4. Click start. An unsecured version of the file will be generated so you can begin editing.

wondershare pdf password remover start

Method #2:How to remove a password from a PDF file using Adobe Acrobat 

In case you don’t know the password for your secured PDF document, it cannot be recovered using Adobe.

You can recreate such a file though, just not fully, as some interactive elements (buttons, bookmarks, hyperlinks, etc.) might be lost.

Here’s how to edit a password-protected PDF file with Adobe Acrobat:

  1. Open the file using Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  2. Unlock it by entering the password.
  3. Click on File and choose Print.
  4. Select Adobe PDF as the printer then proceed to Print.
  5. Save your new file as preferred.

This will save the PDF locally on your computer and you might be able to access the recreated file without the need to enter the password.

And this method also works with any browser of your choice.

If the above steps do not work, try the PDF hack below to gain access to the secured file:

  1. Open your file in Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  2. Click File and Print.
  3. Select the XPS document writer in the printer list.
  4. Open the XPS document and print in PDF format.

Finally, if your PDF file is secured with an open password, follow the steps below to open it without a password:

  1. Open the protected file in Acrobat DC.
  2. Select Tools and then Protect. 
  3. Select Encrypt and click on Remove Security.
  4. Click OK to remove the Document Open password.

In Summary

Before we wrap up, it’s worth mentioning not all encrypted PDF files can be accessed using the methods above. 

That is because the level of securing PDF files varies. Some people take a step further after using a password. You can even come across secured PDF documents with digital signatures too. That means after filling the password field, you will need to use the authorized digital signature(s) to gain access.

Technically, it is possible to use some software to hack into highly secured files. That is not advisable, however, as part of such files may be lost in the process of removing the encryption. 

To save time and reduce the stress of editing secured documents, ensure you request the password from the author. After getting the password, go through the appropriate steps using licensed PDF editors.

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