tech tip tuesday: unlocking a locked pdf file

Today’s dilemma inspired today’s post. I have a locked PDF file that I need to edit for a client, which I received via an email attachment.

I don’t have the password so I can’t unlock it. I can’t copy and paste it into a Word doc (my default method for creating a Word doc from a PDF), nor will PDF2Officeconvert to Word due to the password protection (my backup conversion method).

I tried converting to Google Docs for editing, which often works for PDFs that I can’t copy and paste into Word. But not this one. Docs reads much of the text as an image, which I can’t edit.

The solution: open the PDF in Chrome and print it to PDF (or open PDF in Preview if using a Mac). The new PDF created is unlocked.

I’m now able to copy and paste into Word, to my heart’s content.

It truly is the little things. 🙂

please don’t do this.


Don’t draft a letter, print it, sign it, scan it, then email it. Please. Don’t do this.

And I know some of you are still doing this. Because you’re telling me that you’re still doing this.

Here’s what you do, instead:

If you’re a Mac, then create the document in Pages or Word or whatever app you use. You have [at least] three choices at this point to insert your handwritten signature directly into the document before sending electronically.

  1. Use the nifty app Autograph for Mac (or for iPhone/iPad), which inserts your signature into most any document in Word, Pages, etc. (but not Preview — see below). Just click the cursor where you want the sig to go and autograph it with your touch pad. (Yes, this does require a touch pad, which I can’t imagine not using with my iMac even if Autograph didn’t exist.)
  2. Or print the document to a PDF open in Preview, then do the first thing described.
  3. Or print the document to a PDF open in Adobe, then do the second thing.

If you’re a PC, you don’t have the luxury of the awesome Autograph app. Which IMHO is reason enough to get a Mac. You do have options, although they’re more cumbersome. Create the document in Word and do one of the following:

  1. Insert a signature by doing this.
  2. Or print the document to a PDF open in Adobe Reader then do this.

The whole point of sending correspondence electronically? TO AVOID PRINTING IT ON PAPER. So please pick one of the above methods and do it. The trees of the world thank you.