Removing a password from a PDF on Linux

I just bought a PDF, legally, from a publisher's website. However, in their wisdom, they decided it would be a good idea to password protect all legally-purchased PDFs. This means that each time you open the PDF using Acrobat Reader, you have to remember and type in the password to read it. (Evince, the built-in PDF viewer in Linux, allows you to permanently save the password, but I tend to use Acrobat as it copes better with some PDFs.)

So, if you know the password for a PDF and want to remove it, you can use the command line tools pdftops and ps2pdf to free your PDF from its chains.

  • Install pdftops. On Ubuntu, you can do:
    apt-get install xpdf-utils
  • Install ps2pdf. I think this is already included with a default Ubuntu.
  • Convert the PDF to a postscript file, using the password:
    pdftops -upw <password> <file>.pdf
  • Convert the resulting postscript (which is now sans password) back to a PDF:
    ps2pdf <file>.ps

The only thing you lose are any PDF-specific features which don't translate to postscript, e.g. hyperlinks.

Remember, this only works if you know the password for the PDF: it doesn't break the PDF password for you.


remove multi page acroread format and un-jail


filename=$(basename $1)

gs q -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=${IF}%d.pdf -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE ${filename}



Worked like a charm. thanks

Worked like a charm.

thanks a bunch!

Thanks, works perfect. I had

Thanks, works perfect. I had a lot of files secured with the same password, installed the utilities and made a small script. 15 min and I am done on more than 100 files

Thanks a lot

Very useful for me.


Very useful tip. Thanks!

xpdf-utils conflicts with

xpdf-utils conflicts with gutaprint packages wich needed for Epsons printers to work.
if you install xpdf-utils you will loose gutaprint

Thanks elliot.

Thanks elliot.

This helped me

This helped me ... Thanks


It was really handy thanks

opensuse works great

opensuse 11.1 KDE version has ALL of those programs already pre-installed. This tut worked perfectly for my password protected PDF. Thanks for posting!


Glad to be of assistance :)

Glad to be of assistance :)

wine app

Hi, I tried using the PDF to PS then PS to PDF method but I found the resulting pdf quality unsatisfactory, ( loss of bookmarks navigation, page sizing wrong, resolution pixelated etc...)

I ended up using this windows app:

and installed it on Ubuntu under Wine ( )

The pdf tool trial version is fully functional for 15 days

It worked fine and was a very simple process.

The resulting PDF was unlocked and a perfect clone of the original.

Note: I used this on an E-Book I've just purchased and have the rights to. I just don't like entering my password everytime I open it! :-)

The pdftops and pstopdf

The pdftops and pstopdf approach is sufficient. It keeps the text and is searchable. Page size is the same, everything is the same except now it doesn't ask me for a password. No need to buy a commercial application that may not even run on Wine.

Sounds like a good solution.

Sounds like a good solution.

what permissions

does this pdftops,pstopdf scheme allow me to modify the permissions of the file? for example, if the PDF does not allow me to print me, can I modify this setting?

Better use pdftk

Pdftk is a packaged on Debian an should be in many other distributions.
If not, it can be downloaded at

apt-get install pdftk
pdftk secured.pdf input_pw foopass output unsecured.pdf

As ps is not used, links are not lost and pdftk can do much more for you.

But pdftk needs OWNER

But pdftk needs OWNER password and to use the method decribed above you only need USER pass.


qpdf can decrypt a file with password. And don't have to depend on java crap.

Thank you!

Thank you!

+1 for qpdf

qpdf ftw! works like a charm, and keeps all the fancy pdf attributes like index etc.

Thanks for clarifying.

Thanks for clarifying.

Aha, great! I hadn't heard

Aha, great! I hadn't heard of that application.


I don't know about the other distro's but in Ubuntu but if you know the password you can simply open up the PDF and then print to file (pdf)


So simple - worked for me. Thanks a bunch!

Just reprint as PDF?

Not quite. A lot of secure PDFs will not print even after a password has been used successfully to open them.

As an Ubuntu user, I found the qpdf package mentioned above to be the best solution;
qpdf --password=********* --decrypt secure_version.pdf new_derypted_version.pdf

special characters in password (qpdf & ubuntu terminal)


I guess qpdf works very well for most cases, however I'm experiencing a problem where the password contains special characters:

qpdf --password=ÖPViCiYJ --decrypt 1_pw.pdf 1.pdf
1_pw.pdf: invalid password

(Yes, in Adobe Reader the very same password works.)

Any ideas how to enter "Ö" in terminal so that qpdf understands it?



qpdf works for me!

Thanks for this info. qpdf worked perfectly for me.

That's a tip FTW. Thx man.

That's a tip FTW. Thx man. How I'm not thought this before?


Thanks for the tip :)

remove PDF Password

You can use PDF Password Remover to Reremove password-protection or encryption from the PDF

document. Advanced PDF Password Remover is a free tool which removes encryption from PDF files.

It removes all the basic restrictions on printing, copying and editing the content of PDF files.

It also removes password protection, if any, from the file.

It's also not free and a rip

It's also not free and a rip off considering qpdf does the same thing at no cost.

I did it by using

I did it by using pdfshuffler, it is a linux tool for deleting,adding,and shuffling pages.