I have a protected PDF file, in which I cannot highlight text using Preview and which I cannot print without a password.

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I do know a password, but I cannot understand how to remove it from the document. I can click File > Enter Password and then Unlock as Owner, but the next time I open the document, it will be required to type the password again. How to do this?

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Just in case, I know about options like using qpdf, but since I do know the password, I would prefer to not use third-party tools.

  • 1
    Have you tried Saving, or Saving As, after you've Unlocked?
    – benwiggy
    Aug 30, 2023 at 11:46
  • 1
    You can't remove a PDF password by just unlocking the file (see adobe.com/acrobat/how-to/unlock-pdf.html). Not sure whether Preview can do it at all.
    – nohillside
    Aug 30, 2023 at 12:01
  • 1
    @AVelj That may work, but you will lose non-printing metadata like annotations, table of contents, etc.
    – benwiggy
    Aug 30, 2023 at 15:36
  • 1
    Yes, this works, but to make exported version to look the same as the original document you need to know not only the paper size of the original document but also its margins. Seems to be a quick-and-dirty solution only.
    – jsx97
    Aug 30, 2023 at 15:36
  • 1
    Preview.app is not a PDF creation application, and for removing passwords, you need something like that. Well, if you do serious work with PDF, you won't be able to do it without Acrobat…
    – Max Wyss
    Aug 30, 2023 at 22:58

3 Answers 3


From a quick test, I can Export... from Preview to a new document, and use the Permissions dialog in the file save panel to enable all the permissions.

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However, the Owner Password is still "there". But I can at least print, modify, and annotate the document without need to enter it.

Preview has been a poor flagship for the capabilities of PDFKit these last 25 years or so. It does look like something changed in Monterey that stopped just re-saving it from working.

I've also tried to remove the password programmatically (or even change it to the empty string), but so far without success.

You should be able to Save As a PDF from the Print dialog, but this will have the effect of losing any non-printing data, like Annotations, Table of Contents, etc.

Your best bet is probably a better PDF editing app.


I have the same problem on macOS Sonoma 14.1.1 with Preview 11.0.

I've tried to Export a PDF that requires a password to open. Once entered, Preview perplexingly does not show a password in the export dialog (see below), yet the resulting PDF is again password protected. That makes no sense.

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What worked for me was to print the unlocked PDF (File menu, Print). There was no mention there of a password in Security Options and the saved PDF was no longer password protected.

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Preview also crashed once in the process. I did like the ease of use of Preview so far but this latest version is buggy and unconvincing.


To remove the password, File > Print > PDF (button at the bottom left)

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  • How does this improve the more complete answer given by SeanJ on November 29th, 2023?
    – IconDaemon
    2 days ago

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