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Forgot PDF Password - How To Recover It

Whether you want to open or edit your PDF document, your document may be password protected. That means you need to enter a password before you go any further. The only problem is passwords are easily misplaced or forgotten. If this is the case and you have misplaced your password, there’s no need to panic! It’s a common problem, and one that can usually be solved by using a tool to open the locked PDF.

Having a password in place means you have peace of mind that only the right people are able to access the document. However, a common problem is forgetting or misplacing passwords - there are so many passwords to remember, after all! Luckily, we can provide the solution through our online tool which will allow you to recover your password-protected document.

In this post, we’ll talk through in a step-by-step process how to use FormatPDF’s online tool to free your document. The actual process takes only a few clicks or a few seconds to complete. We’ll also share our top tips for recovering your document. Finally, we’ll explore alternative methods. If you’re ready to start, let’s begin!

How To Recover A PDF Without a Password Step-By-Step

Misplaced or forgotten your password? Don’t worry – there are ways around this! FormatPDF provides an unlock tool that will allow you to access your document without a password. Follow our step-by-step instructions below to recover your document:

  1. Visit https://www.formatpdf.com/en/unlock-pdf/
  2. Select the box that reads “Select PDF file”. This will allow you to upload your file. Alternatively, you can drag and drop your file into the area labeled “Or drag and drop the PDF here”.
  3. Once uploaded, your document will appear on the screen.
  4. If you’re ready to proceed with unlocking, click “Unlock”.
  5. The tool will get to work and in just a few seconds your PDF will unlock. Don’t forget to download your file to open and use it as normal!

You can then use FormatPDF’s online tool to complete other editing tasks such as compressing, editing or converting to Word, if you wish.

What You Need To Know About Recovering A PDF Without A Password

You may want to get started straight away, but it’s worth glancing over our top tips to make sure you’re fully informed with all the information. Read on for top tips for recovering your PDF, which will enable you to get the most out of your experience:

  • In most cases, it shouldn’t be a problem to recover your document. Although you may not be able to recover a PDF if the encryption level is too high. This means if the security levels are too strong, you will require a password to unlock it.
  • You can recover most PDFs from password protection, whether they contain images, text or both.
  • Once you have recovered your document, you can go ahead and make further changes. Using an online tool is a great way to edit your document and make changes to it.
  • There are a few different methods you can use to recover your file. However, when you use FormatPDF’s online tool the action is performed in the cloud, meaning you don’t need to download any additional software.

Alternatives To Recovering A PDF Without A Password

You may wish to explore other options to recover your file. We think it’s always a good idea to be fully informed of all the options before making any decisions. Below you can read through some of the best alternative options to recover your file in the absence of a password.

Options To Recover A PDF Without a Password On Your PC

Different operating systems throw up different choices, so we’ve included options that fall under Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems. Read on for alternative methods for each.


Adobe Acrobat is not free to use, so you will need to pay a fee to perform your task. However, it’s a powerful alternative if you’re happy to proceed regardless of the cost. Recover your file by following the instructions.

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat and open your document in the program.
  2. You will have the option to unlock your document by selecting “File” and opening “Properties”.
  3. Next, click on “Remove Password” in the “Security Method” menu.
  4. Save your file.


Mac users can use Google Drive to access their document, though you will need a Gmail account. It’s easy to sign up for a Gmail account, and once you have one you can proceed by following the steps below.

  1. Upload your document to Google Drive. You can drag and drop it or select it from your documents folder.
  2. Locate the ‘Lock’ icon under “Security Settings” and click on it.
  3. Next click on “Permission Details” > “Security”.
  4. Select “No Security” and click “OK” to remove the password.


The best option for Linux users is Adobe Acrobat. Although you will need to pay a fee to use this program. To use Adobe Acrobat, open your document and navigate to "File" > “Properties”. Next, click on "Permission Details" and open the Security tab. Select "Remove Password” in the “Security Method" menu. Don’t forget to save your document!

Options To Recover A PDF Without A Password On Your Smartphone

If you need to recover a PDF file, you can use a smartphone to complete your task. It requires downloading a third-party app from your phone’s app store. On Android devices this is the “Google Play Store”, and on iPhone devices this is the “App Store”. Follow the instructions below for each system.


Open the App Store and search for a third-party app. Type in the search box “PDF unlock app” and search for an app that will enable you to recover a PDF that is missing a password. Watch out for hidden fees that often reveal themselves after you’ve downloaded an app. Read the app description thoroughly to avoid any hidden costs. Once you’ve found an app, install it and open the app. Next, upload your document and click to unlock it.


For Android users, the process is identical to iPhone users, but they will use the Google Play Store to find an app. Search for “unlock PDF” in the store and choose an app you’re happy with. Install the app, open your document in the app and click to unlock. Look out for apps with hidden fees. Reading the app description should help you to avoid downloading an app with hidden costs attached. Once your file is ready, don’t forget to download or save it!

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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