How to edit protected PDF files for free

November 9th, 2007 | by HowToGuru |

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!


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  1. 30 Responses to “How to edit protected PDF files for free”

  2. By grace on Nov 10, 2007 | Reply

    it’s not working. it is disabled. i’m using version 7.

  3. By HowToGuru on Nov 10, 2007 | Reply

    What is disabled?

  4. By Purushotham Reddy on Mar 4, 2008 | Reply

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

  5. By 4uton0mous on Mar 17, 2008 | Reply

    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.

  6. By leyya on Apr 2, 2008 | Reply

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

  7. By HowToGuru on Apr 10, 2008 | Reply

    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.

  8. By s ojo on Jun 10, 2008 | Reply


  9. By s ojo on Jun 10, 2008 | Reply


  10. By Jam on Jun 11, 2008 | Reply is a good tool if you need to edit pdf files. It helps me a lot.

  11. By s ojo on Jun 11, 2008 | Reply

    i want to prnt it

  12. By ohoboho on Jun 18, 2008 | Reply

    I just don’t see where is the free part

  13. By Hash on Jul 14, 2008 | Reply

    Thanks for the Microsoft Doc Imaging tip!!

  14. By John on Sep 18, 2008 | Reply

    This doesn’t work when the permissions won’t allow copying content. Email me if you know what will…anyone. Thanks!

  15. By moejoe on Oct 12, 2008 | Reply

    ok this really helped a lot, thanks so much! i was getting crazy until now!

  16. By Liz on Nov 21, 2008 | Reply

    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!

  17. By Andrew on Apr 23, 2009 | Reply

    Good advice from 4uton0mous.

    Worked a treat!

  18. By Haley on May 14, 2009 | Reply

    I used the PrintScreen button on my keyboard and then pasted into Paint. That worked.

  19. By Mevlin James on Jul 27, 2009 | Reply

    There is an easy way to edit protected PDF. Just convert it into Word using AnyBizSoft PDF to Word converter, then you can edit as you wish.
    Check it out here:

  20. By Momo on Jul 28, 2009 | Reply

    If you want to batch convert the PDF files to Word file, Adreamsoft PDF to Word Converter is a good choice. It can convert 10 PDF files at a time and it can convert the password protected file.

  21. By Murphybing on Aug 4, 2009 | Reply

    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.

  22. By andy on Oct 20, 2009 | Reply

    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

  23. By ATTI123 on Nov 8, 2009 | Reply


  24. By Hustler on Feb 19, 2010 | Reply

    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..

  25. By fiona on Apr 19, 2011 | Reply

    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!

  26. By Tech Guru on Aug 16, 2011 | Reply

    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).


  27. By Amanda on Oct 8, 2011 | Reply

    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. 🙂


  28. By Jack Thomas on Mar 26, 2012 | Reply

    Know How to edit protected PDF files for free by using Online PDF Unlocker…… should try this tool… helps me a lot.

  29. By Jack Thomas on Apr 27, 2012 | Reply is a relevant tool if you want to unlock passsword security from multiple PDF files at a time.

  30. By Jason on Oct 26, 2012 | Reply


    Your suggestion worked and it’s so simple!!!!!!

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