Decrypt password protected PDF - software alternatives?
Thread poster: Jan Sundström

Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:01
English to Swedish
+ ...
Oct 2, 2006

Hi all,

There has been previous threads about password protected PDFs. Various software has been mentioned, but since versions are updated, I wanted to get an overview on what is the best/cheapest/most versatile software on the market today.

To avoid unnecessary discussion, leave all legalities aside. Assume that I'm dealing with a PDF that the client gave me permission to open, simply because the contact person who encrypted it left the company.

The PDF won't export, print och even permit screen shots (the camera function in Acrobat). Also Abbyy PDF Transformer 1.0 chokes on it.

Now, I've read that some of these programs might be able to unlock it. I'm asking for your experiences: which work, which don't? Any particular versions?

PDF Password Recovery 2.4 (AdultPDF)
Advanced PDF Password Recovery (Elcomsoft)
Aladdin Ghostscript/GSview
Guaranteed PDF Decrypter
XPDF
Apple Mac OS X Preview (earlier versions only!)
Omnipage?
Abbyy FineReader?
ReadIRIS?

This page has a comprehensive list, but seems a bit outdated:
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Adobe/Gallery/

Thanks for any input!

/Jan


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:01
German to English
RetrievePDF Oct 2, 2006

I use RetrievePDF for password-protected PDF files. It's fast and generally reliable, although a couple of times I've had to run the utility twice to get a result (probably operator error). According to the website:
http://www.software.ebandwagon.co.uk/RetrivePDF.html

the price is US $9.99 or £9.99, but since the British pound is currently worth about $2.00, I wouldn't be surprised if the USD price is somewhat higher.


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Jean-François Pineau  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:01
German to French
+ ...
Maybe the cheapest way Oct 3, 2006

Try to open it in ColorSync and resave.

Jean-François


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esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:01
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Decrypt — really? Oct 4, 2006

I've never heard of any program that really decrypts PDF passwords — they just remove password protection due to some design fault. A good utility is Adult PDF Password Recovery (www.adultpdf.com). As for ABBYY FineReader, it's strange to see this program in the list. FineReader is an OCR programs and it simply does not deal with PDF passwords, does not care about them: you load a PDF and OCR it. But the result is different from PDF convertion to MS Word or RTF formats.

[Редактировалось 2006-10-04 05:50]


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Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:01
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Clarification Oct 4, 2006

esperantisto wrote:

I've never heard of any program that really decrypts PDF passwords — they just remove password protection due to some design fault. A good utility is Adult PDF Password Recovery (www.adultpdf.com). As for ABBYY FineReader, it's strange to see this program in the list. FineReader is an OCR programs and it simply does not deal with PDF passwords, does not care about them: you load a PDF and OCR it. But the result is different from PDF convertion to MS Word or RTF formats.

[Редактировалось 2006-10-04 05:50]


Hi all,

Maybe I was a bit unclear. Basically, I want to extract the text into an editable format, whether it requires me to deal with the PDF in either one or two steps.

If there is OCR software that simply overrides the password protection, so much better. But so far I had no luck with Abbyy.

Otherwise, I'm looking for a tool that decrypts/unlocks/removes the password protection, regardless of what method it uses under the skin. I know that some of the software above actually runs a decryption algorithm, just like the spies in WWII! But that's of pure academical interest to me, I just want an editable text, that's it!

/Jan


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Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:01
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
An update Dec 5, 2006

Hi all,

I compared the features of the program listed above, and came to the following conclusions:

Commercial programs (full license $10-60, trial version limits to part of PDF only):
PDF Password Recovery 2.4 (AdultPDF)
Advanced PDF Password Recovery (Elcomsoft)
Guaranteed PDF Decrypter
RetrievePDF

Limited to Mac only:
Apple Mac OS X Preview (earlier versions only!)

Doesn't decrypt to PDF, but rather OCR to other format:
Omnipage
Abbyy FineReader
ReadIRIS

Freeware, but limitations to password handling:
XPDF (http://www.foolabs.com/xpdf/cracking.html)

Freeware, unrestricted:
Ghostscript+GSview

I tried GSview (frontend GUI for Ghostview) and it really works. We have a winner!
It also have batch functionality and can extract to text directly from PDF. Check it out...

/Jan


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:01
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
How do you extract text with Ghostscript? Dec 7, 2006

Could someone give step-by-step instructions on how to extract a pdf file into an editable format using Ghostscript?

Thank you.


[Edited at 2006-12-07 14:23]


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Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:01
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Read the manual Dec 8, 2006

Hi Edward and all,

I haven't tried this myself, but you're supposed to be able to extract PDF to txt, although the results might be inferior to a dedicated OCR program:
http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/gsview/gsviewen.htm#Portable_Document_Format

Follow the link to "Text extract" to read more about your options.

Good luck,

Jan


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