How to edit protected PDF files for free

It can be quite frustrating when you want to copy and edit text from a protected PDF file and you find that you can’t. Normally, you can use the text select tool in Adobe PDF reader to highlight and copy the text in a PDF document. I stumbled upon (no pun intended but feel free to click anyway :-)) this free solution when I wanted to copy some postage rates from a PDF file and found that the protected PDF document didn’t allow me to select any text or numbers. What’s up with that?

pdfedit.jpgAnyway, what I did was to use the Snapshot Tool in Adobe PDF reader (It’s the camera icon), copied the text that I wanted to edit as an image and pasted it into Microsoft Office Document Imaging. Then, here’s the magic part, goto Tools > Recognize text using OCR and hey, presto you have editable text. Simply highlight the OCR’ed text and paste it into any word processor, like Open Office. You can then resave it as a PDF file in Open Office after editing. Easy!


30 thoughts on “How to edit protected PDF files for free”

  1. Hey,thanks a ton guru. it worked like charm. great trick. three cheers to you. keep up the good work.

  2. It works better if you go to “File/Print/Microsoft Office Document Imaging” from the pdf. Then, you don’t lose any of the editable text in the process. You can also turn around and print a new, unprotected pdf from Microsoft Document Imaging.

  3. would it works if i use the Microsoft Office Document only?? coz i dont have the Microsoft Office Document Immaging in my laptop

  4. Well, you need Microsoft Document Imaging to perform the OCR on the PDF image. Else, you can also use another OCR software from either or which is free.

  5. If you have Mac OS X, you can open the PDF in ColorSync (included on all Macs) and then save it as a new PDF. Then you can edit it (I needed to edit a form), and you don’t need to download anything!

  6. Thanks for sharing. I was just looking for a tool that supports convert protected pdf files on Google and came across your blog.This tool works well. By the way, I also find Adreamsoft PDF to Word Converter supports converting protected pdf files and right click conversion.You all can have a trial and hope you like it.

  7. yes, we are often puzzled about the password of protected PDF documents. Fortunately, one of my friends who is a computer expert recommended me to prepare PDF password unlocker at hand for recovering password protected PDF document. With this PDF password recovery tool, I can recover password of security PDF file with great ease. One the PDF passwords are found back, you can edit the PDF content at will
    Besides, you can also edit PDF document on ms word program. But you need to download a pdf to word converter at first. Here, Nemo pdf converter is highly recommended


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  10. hey guru please help me i am using adobe acrobat 9 standard want to highlight some lines in pdf document .. but i doesnt allow… when i slect highlight and comment it displays msg tht visible only if document is not right protected…. how can i edit this document using adobe acrobat 9..

  11. Sometimes the snapshoot tool is disabled, you can use “Snagit” or other screenshoot capturer program. And I found that you can even avoid the copy,print,edit restrictions with a pdf to word converter to copy text in PDF file. Can you recommend some other free and good OCR programs for us? Thank you!

  12. In office 2010 the program Microsoft Office Document Imaging (MODI) is no longer available.

    There IS HOWEVER a workaround.

    Method 1: Use Microsoft Office OneNote 2010.

    Method 2: Download and Install MODI by installing SharePoint Designer 2007.

    Visit the following LINK for full information on both Method 1 (at bottom of article) and Method 2 (at top of article).


  13. Hi! There is one super easy way.

    Go to “Split PDF Documents Easily” @

    Choose your PDF file, and for the “extract” part, extract every page you need. Click “Split PDF”.

    After that, you’ll be able to download the PDF file exactly the same way it was – except it isn’t secured AT ALL! And then finally do what you want to. 🙂


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