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How To Copy Text From A Protected PDF

Authors and companies often secure their Portable Document Format (PDF) files to protect their content from being copied or edited without permission. In fact, they implement these privacy measures to safeguard their confidential documents from being misused. However, sometimes you might need to copy text from a secured PDF. To do this, you’ll first need to unlock the PDFs, as you’ll need access to the text to then copy it elsewhere.

You might have been in a situation where you’re required to unlock protected files to copy something from them. This might be because you've forgotten the password, and now you need to copy text from the document. Alternatively, if you want to print your PDFs which are password-protected, then you first need to unlock the document. No matter the reason, you should know how to copy text from a secured PDF.

In this article, we'll talk about different techniques you can implement to copy text from a protected PDF. So, let’s walk through the methods!

Step-By-Step: How To Copy Text From A Protected PDF

Online tools such as FormatPDF’s "Unlock PDF" are among the best ways to remove a document’s security, allowing you to copy text from a protected PDF file. You can even gain access to a protected file without downloading any kind of program to do so. Isn't it awesome?

You just need to follow these simple steps to unlock PDFs using the tool:

  1. Go to https://www.formatpdf.com/en/unlock-pdf/
  2. At the top of the screen, click on the red button that says "Select PDF files".
  3. Choose the file that you need to unlock.
  4. On the next screen, tap on the "Unlock" button. Give the platform a couple of seconds to unlock your protected document.
  5. Once the tool unlocks your document, you can download the same. It generally downloads the file automatically, although otherwise, click on the "Download PDF" button.

Unlocking a PDF to copy text from a protected documentAt some point, you maybe you might also need to convert the PDF to Word to make more changes to the file. Fortunately, we provide a tool to do just this, as well as convert the Word file back to PDF.

What You Need To Know About Copying Text From A Protected PDF

In this section, we'll provide some tips you should keep in mind while copying text from a protected PDF file. These are as follows:

  • If a file is protected, it must be because the file contains sensitive data, so first, you must ask permission from the owner to access it. Moreover, it's illegal to access someone else's protected document without their permission, so it's vital to have their permission.
  • Of course, it's good to password-protect the PDFs again after unlocking them so that the files with sensitive content remain protected.
  • Password-protected files generally include a digital signature to make things even more secure. If not, you can sign them anytime using an online PDF signature tool.
  • Although various tools can help you access a password-protected file, it isn't always possible. In fact, if a file is highly encrypted, you might not get the expected result.

Which Programs Allow You To Copy Text From A Protected PDF

While passworded PDFs add security, you might need to copy words from these protected documents at times. Online tools are, without any doubt, best for carrying out this action. However, sometimes you may also need other programs from different operating systems, so let’s take a look.

Copy Text From A Protected PDF On A PC

There is a range of different tools and methods that anyone can use to copy text from a protected PDF file on a PC (Windows, Mac, and Linux). However, the thing is that it depends entirely on the restrictions applied to the secured documents. Let's take a look at the options available on various devices.

Windows 10 And Prior Versions Of Windows

If you've ever found a secured document, chances are you already know that you can't copy words from that file. Fortunately, although PCs with Windows operating systems don't have any native tool for unlocking such documents, various applications are available to do so. One such program is Adobe Acrobat.


Luckily, Mac users have many effective methods to unlock a secured PDF and copy its text. All you need is to download and install a suitable app on your device and register yourself using a Google email account. Once your registration is over, you can easily use the tool.


Linux users can copy text from a protected PDF file using Okular, created by the KDE open-source community. It's a free multi-platform document viewer and is licensed under the GPLv2+. The program supports many document formats like MD, PNG, CBR, etc. Along with copying text from protected PDFs, you can also make changes to your file.

Copy Text From A Protected PDF On A Smartphone Or Tablet

With the right tool, you can easily copy text from a secured PDF file on your smartphone or tablet (iOS and Android). Let's explain how.


To copy text from a protected PDF on Android devices, you've got to download and install any of the applications that let you carry out this action from the Google Play Store. Just search for the text "Unlock PDF" in the search bar, and a list of apps suitable for the task will appear on the screen.

iPhone (iOS) Or iPad

Like Android users, iPad and iPhone (iOS) users can easily download a range of applications to copy text from a protected PDF file from the Apple App Store. However, before unlocking any file, make sure to get permission from the file’s author. That's because the document must include sensitive material for which it's protected.

Husain has been around the internet ever since the dial-up days and loves writing about everything across the technosphere. He loves taking tech apart and see what makes them tick, without necessarily putting it all back together.
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