PDF files have become a popular solution for saving and sharing documents globally. With this file version users can easily send and receive documents while maintaining a high level of data integrity. Document owners can utilize the PDF password functionality to preserve the content, prevent unauthorized copying, printing or reading.
Password Protected PDF Files
Generally, you can use the password locking functionality in PDF to lock the documents with two types of passwords.
- Document open password – prevents user from opening the file and you will see the prompt like below when trying to open such a file.
- Owner password – prevents copying or printing or apply any other restrictions for using the content. Generally, you can open and read content and you will see the prompt like below when trying to copy content from the file.
While this practice is always a good experience, it can cause you a headache when you need to extract important content and don’t know or you forgot the password. This article will show you how you can extract content from a PDF file that has been locked for opening or copying without the password.
What Will Not Work?
Well, before we proceed further there are some standard methods available to convert PDF in to Word document. Two popular methods are to use Adobe tool and Microsoft Word. However, both of these methods will not work if the PDF is protected with password and show you an error.
Adobe converter will show you the below error “The file’s security settings do not allow export”.
And Microsoft Word will show you the error like below indicating there is a file permission settings preventing the conversion.
How to Copy Content from Password Protected PDF File?
With the Adobe and Word converter options will not work, here are some of the alternate options that can help you to copy content from password protected PDF files.
Method 1: Extract protected PDF Content Using Google Drive
Google Drive is a popular app that you get when you create a Gmail account. It provides you with free space for storing your files as well as creating spreadsheets, Google Docs and Slides among other functionalities.
Step 1: Sign in and Setup Google Drive
- Login to your Google Drive or create a free account if you don’t have one.
- Click the gear icon at the top-right corner to open the settings.
- On the pop-up window, check the “Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format” option and click “Done”.
Step 2: Upload and Open Protected PDF file
- On the Google Drive main dashboard, click the “New” or “My Drive” button and select “Upload Files” from the drop down options that appear.
- Navigate the computer storage and select your target protected file to upload.
- You may also drag your target file and drop it in the Drive.
- Right click the file and select “Open With > Google Docs” to open the file.
Step 3: Extracting Content
- Once the file is open in Google Docs, you can directly copy the content and paste to your desired destination.
- Alternatively, you can download the content as a Word Document. Go to “File>Download as > Microsoft Word (.docx)” and open the downloaded Microsoft Word File.
Method 2: Using Google Chrome to Extract Content from Secure PDF File
You can use the Google Chrome browser to open and extract content from protected PDF but this only works if the file is not locked for printing.
- Right click the protected file and select “Open With > Chrome” from the context menu.
- On the top right corner of the browser window, click the print icon.
- Choose the “Save as PDF” option to re-save the file.
- Open the newly saved file in a PDF reader.
- Select the text and press ‘Ctrl+C’ keys or right-click and select “copy” to copy the content.
Method 3: Extracting PDF Content with PDF Elements
PDF Elements is a third party application that allows you to take a snapshot of a PDF file content and convert the image into an editable text.
- Download and install PDF Element on your computer.
- Open your protected PDF in PDF element and on the “Tools” tab, select “Capture”.
- Use the mouse to draw the section you want to capture and save the file on your computer.
- Go to the “File” menu, select “Create PDF” and choose the saved snapshot from the computer storage.
- Go back to the “Tool” tab and select “OCR > Scan to editable text” to convert the image to editable text.
- This will open a new editable PDF file which allows you to copy the text.
Tips: If you have single page PDF file then it is easy to use screenshot capturing tools like Snagit to capture the image. Snagit has in-built OCR function that you can use to extract the text content from the captured screenshot.
Method 4: Unlocking Secure PDF Files Using Free Online Solutions
There are many free online solutions for unlocking password protected PDF files. One of these online solution is Smallpdf.com
- Visit the smallpdf website and click the “CHOOSE FILE” button to upload the target file from your computer storage.
- Click the “UNLOCK PDF” button to unlock the protected file.
- Then click “Download” to download the unlocked file.
- Now open the file with a PDF reader and copy the content.
Method 5: Using PDF Unlocker Software to Extract Content of Secured PDF Files
- Download, install and launch the PDF unlocker.
- Select the target file from your PC storage and click the “Next” button.
- A window showing the file properties will appear. Click “Next” to continue.
- Fill in the details on the spaces provided and click the “Unlock PDF” button.
- Once the software unlocks the file, now you can access and extract the content of the PDF file.
Using passwords to protect PDF files is one of the best practices to maintain data integrity and prevent copying or replication. However, sometime you may need to extract data from a protected file and have no access to the password. In such a situation, the above methods will help you to access and extract information from a locked PDF file without the password. If the manual methods fail to work, you can use the automatic online solution or install a third party application for the task.