Q:

How does someone unlock or unsecure a PDF file?

A:

Quick Answer

When a PDF file is locked for printing and editing, it is possible to circumvent this security by converting the file to XPS format or using a PDF unlocker program. This is only legal, however, if users have permission from the document's admin to do so.

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Full Answer

Although PDF files are commonly used among many industries, many of them are "locked" or "secured" to prevent edits, changes and printing to maintain content security. However, as long as the admin of the PDF file has allowed users rights to alter, copy, print or edit the file, it is legal to unlock it for these purposes.

Printing a Locked PDF File

The easiest action users can take on a locked PDF file is to print it, as this requires no additional programs or downloads to accomplish. A simple three-step process circumvents most security settings to allow users to print the document.

  1. Open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader, click on the "File" menu and then select "Print."
  2. From within the Print box, select "Microsoft XPS Document Writer" rather than the standard or default printer. This process creates an XPS output file.
  3. Now, open the associated XPS file and repeat the printing process, this time printing in PDF format as usual.

Editing or Altering a Locked PDF File

If users want to alter or edit a locked PDF file on their computer, and have permission to do so, then they need to download and install a PDF unlocker program. There are many such programs available which are easy to find through a simple web search.

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