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How To Edit A Password-Protected PDF Without The Password

If your PDF is protected with a password and you don’t remember it, you will be prevented from accessing the file. But all is not lost! While there is no direct solution to edit a protected PDF, you can, first, easily unlock it and then, second, make alterations. Although this is two steps instead of one, with this workaround you’ll be able to start making changes to your file.

Having a document that you can’t access can be frustrating, but it’s a problem that’s easily fixed. Whether you’re working in a professional capacity, or you’d like to collaborate with friends on a document, using FormatPDF’s online unlocking tool, you can free your protected document from its locked state and start making edits.

In this post, we’ll share how to release your document from its password-protected status so you can start editing your document. Let's get down to business!

Step By Step: How To Edit A Password-Protected PDF Without The Password

Step 1: Unlock The PDF

To alter your protected document, you must first unlock it. If you’ve forgotten your password to access your file, then FormatPDF is the perfect solution to your problem. You can follow the step-by-step guide below to unlock your file in a snap:

  1. Go to https://www.formatpdf.com/en/unlock-pdf/
  2. Click on “Select PDF file” to upload the document. Alternatively, you can drag and drop the document into the area that states: “Or drag and drop the PDF here”.
  3. Once you’ve uploaded your document, it will appear on the screen.
  4. If you’re happy, click “Unlock” for the online tool to get to work on unlocking.
  5. Your document will take a few seconds to free. Click on “Download” to receive it. Once downloaded, you will be able to open and use it as normal!

Step 2: Edit The PDF

  1. Go to https://www.formatpdf.com/en/edit-pdf/
  2. Navigate to “Select PDF” and upload your unlocked file.
  3. Once uploaded it will appear on screen. You’ll see various editing options such as drawing, inserting a picture, adding an icon or writing text.
  4. Make your desired changes.
  5. Once you’re happy with the edits, click to “Download” your file in the bottom right corner of your screen. You will receive your edited document!

What You Need To Know About Editing A Password-Protected PDF Without The Password

Before you get started with making changes, we’ve included some useful information you may want to take a look at:

  • Not all encrypted PDFs are accessible using the unlock method mentioned. If your file has a high level of security attached, you may find that you cannot unlock it.
  • There are two types of passwords you need to know: “open passwords” and “permission passwords”:
    • “Permission passwords” alter the permission settings of a file. In that case, you will be restricted to certain actions such as editing, copying content or printing.
    • “Open passwords” require you to type a password to open the document.
  • When you release your document, you can start making changes, convert it, or compress it straight away. You can start using it as you would any other normal, unprotected file.

Alternatives To Editing A Password-Protected PDF Without The Password

We’ve detailed a way for you to unlock and then change your protected file. However, there are other methods that will enable you to perform these edits. The options will vary depending on whether you’re using Windows, Mac or Linux, and also Android or iPhone.

Options To Edit A Password-Protected PDF Without The Password On Your PC

Whether unlocking your file using Windows, Linux or Mac operating systems, there are different methods that will allow you to do this. Let’s explore other options you can use to alter your protected document.


Windows users may be able to use Adobe Acrobat, though it depends on the type of password attached. To try this method, open your file in Adobe and follow the pathway “Tools” > "Protect" > "Encrypt" > " Remove Security”. After you have unlocked your file, you can edit it in Adobe too.


Google Drive can be a helpful tool for Mac users to accomplish their tasks, but a Gmail account is required to use it.

To upload a password-protected file, simply drag and drop it onto the platform. To print the document, double-click on it and click the print icon. Next, go to the "Destination" menu, select "Change," then "View More..." and finally "Save as PDF".

Once you've saved your document, you can make changes to it using the default document and image viewer on Mac, Preview.


Linux users may find the Adobe Acrobat program a useful alternative method. They can follow the same method as Windows users. After opening your file in Adobe, navigate to "Tools” > "Protect" > "Encrypt" > " Remove Security”. Once you’ve released your file, you can go ahead and make changes using the same program.

Options To Edit A Password-Protected PDF Without The Password On Your Smartphone

To amend a secured PDF using a smartphone, you can download an app to unlock and edit your file.


iPhone users can complete their task using a third-party app to unlock and alter their file. You may need to download two different apps to complete both parts of the task. Search for an unlocking app and an editing app in the Apple App Store.


The Google Play Store will provide Android users with a PDF unlocking and editing app. Again, you may require two separate apps; one that will enable you to first unlock your file, and another to enable you to amend it.

Open the unlock app first, upload your file and then click “Unlock PDF” or similar. Tap the button to perform the action and download your file.

Next, open your chosen edit app and upload it to the app. The app should present you with different editing options. Once you’re happy with your changes, download your file.

Becky is a freelance tech writer with over 8 years' experience writing for print and online. She is often found heavily caffeinated and accompanied by a laptop occupying local coffee shops, bars, co-working spaces and, frankly, anywhere she can get a strong cup of coffee. She enjoys collaborating on different projects ranging from tech to travel and everything in between!
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