Author or creator of PDF documents and files can use two passwords to protect or restrict usage of the documents. “Password to open” (or user password) will restrict opening of PDF file while “password to restrict printing and editing” (or owner password) will disable or lock down the feature on PDF document and restrict, prevent or block ability to modify, edit, save, print, copy or convert the contents, depending on owner preferences on document properties.

When the PDF documents block or disable users from copying the text or image content and printing, two common settings, users will unable and cannot print or copy the contents of the PDF files. If you intend to print or copy the text or graphical contents from locked down PDF files, try one of the following hacks or tricks to workaround the PDF restriction and blocking.

When a user sets a password to restrict printing and editing, the password is stored inside the PDF document. This password is not the password that encrypt the PDF and protect PDF from opening. All PDF-compliant applications that read and open PDF files suppose to honor this owner password, however, some programs simply ignore the password to restrict printing and editing, and can be used as a hack or crack to print or copy and paste from the PDF documents.

Assuming that you don’t want to crack the password with commercial software or free utility, to print PDF documents that disable printing or does not allow to copy data, download and install the most commonly used program to do such task, which can be run on Windows, Linux and OS/2.

  1. Download and install Ghostscript, an interpreter for the PostScript language and for PDF.
  2. Download and install GSView, a graphical interface for Ghostscript.
  3. Run GSView to open and print/copy any security locked PDF files.

Another way to bypass and workaround the DRM restriction of PDF document settings that prevent and disable users from print or copy, is to open the document in Acrobat Reader or Foxit Reader. You still won’t be able to print from these program though. But it’s possible to screen capture the document as a picture, which can later be printed using a free capturing software such as Snipping Tool packaged with Vista or SnagIt, which support auto-scroll to capture multiple pages of the document automatically.

For users that want to copy text contents from PDF pages which block users from using copy command, try to download and install a screen capture tool with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) feature which can translates image into text. These applications include Kleptomania (40 days trial), Capture Text (21 days free trial) and Aqua Deskperience (20 days trial). They are not freeware though.