Overcoming Locked PDF Files

By January 17, 2016Uncategorized

PDF files can be configured with various permissions to allow or deny certain actions from being performed on them. Perhaps one of the most annoying configurations however, is a security lock which prevents anyone from copying content (e.g. text and images) from the file. While such a lock is often put in place for legal reasons (e.g. to prevent copyright issues), more often than not, there are legitimate reasons why you might want or need to copy content, such as when the source document used to create the PDF has been lost. In this article we’ll share a quick trick in Windows on how to get around this so that you can copy content from a locked PDF.

The trick is really just a matter of converting to another format and then back to PDF in order to remove the lock. Note however that before you begin, you’ll need a program that installs an Adobe PDF printer driver such as Adobe Acrobat. If you don’t have Acrobat, we’ve heard that CutePDF Writer (http://www.cutepdf.com/products/cutepdf/Writer.asp) also provides a suitable PDF printer driver.

Once you’ve got a PDF printer driver, open the document in Adobe Reader and then print it to the “XPS format” by selecting the “Microsoft XPS Document Writer” as the printer. This will save the file as a .xps file. Next, double click the newly created .xps file which will open it in Microsoft’s XPS Viewer application, and then print it back to PDF by selecting “Adobe PDF” as the printer driver.

And there you have it. At this point you should now have a PDF file with all of the content in an unlocked state. Note that the final formatting may not be exactly as it was in the original PDF file, but then again, the goal was simply to remove the lock so that content could be copied.