Howto Crack pdf File Password

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If you want to crack pdf file passwords use pdfcrack.PDFCrack is a GNU/Linux (other POSIX-compatible systems should work too) tool for recovering passwords and content from PDF-files. It is small, command line driven without external dependencies. The application is Open Source (GPL).

pdfcrack Features

Supports the standard security handler (revision 2 and 3) on all known PDF-versions

Supports cracking both owner and userpasswords

Both wordlists and bruteforcing the password is supported

Simple permutations (currently only trying first character as Upper Case)

Save/Load a running job

Simple benchmarking

Optimised search for owner-password when user-password is known

Install pdfcrack in Ubuntu

sudo aptitude install pdfcrack

This will complete the installation.

pdfcrack Syntax

pdfcrack -f filename [options]

pdfcrack Options

-b, -- -bench -- Perform benchmark and exit.
-c, -- -charset=STRING -- Use the characters in STRING as charset.
-m, -- -maxpw=INTEGER -- Stop when reaching INTEGER as password length.
-n, -- -minpw=INTEGER -- Skip trying passwords shorter than INTEGER.
-l, -- -loadState=FILE -- Continue from the state saved in FILENAME.
-o, -- -owner -- Work with the ownerpassword.
-p, --password=STRING -- Uses STRING as userpassword to speed up breaking ownerpassword (implies -o).
-q, -- -quiet -- Run quietly.
-s, -- -permutate -- Try permutating the passwords (currently only supports switching
first character to uppercase).
-u, -- -user -- Work with the userpassword (default).
-v, -- -version -- Print version and exit.
-w, -- -wordlist=FILE -- Use FILE as source of passwords to try.

pdfcrack Examples

pdfcrack test.pdf

pdfcrack options and examples

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26 Responses

  1. Erik RIngmar says:


    I get an error message “First trailer not found.”

    what to do?


  2. Kidd says:

    I’n no Guro but i would like to help. What command are you typing in?

  3. Asbjørn says:


    I was once told that one may omit the PDF password functionality by simply using ImageMagick (‘convert pdf_with_password.pdf pdf_without_password.pdf’). This won’t find the password for you, but will help you read the PDF.

  4. thx says:

    luv u 4 this!

  5. micheas says:

    using a dictionary from The Argon Word Lists will tend to get much faster results.

  6. iansane says:

    any options for adobe digital additions downloads? pdfcrack and imagemagick convert produce error: unknown security handler.

    Anyone know how to convert those into regular pdf’s? even after purchaceing them they can only be read on an authorised machine with digital additions. Try to open them like a regular pdf and they are password protected

  7. robinzoni says:

    @ Asbjørn
    Many thanks for your Tip. It did, indeed, work for me. Imagemagick solved the problem astonishingly simple.


    ps: Just for the record. I assume the success does depend on the encryption method, though. Since I could ‘see’ the content of my pdf’s but was not allowed to manipulate them (extract particular pages, copy text, etc.) it worked like a charm.

  8. stan says:

    I guess that’s what all that processor power in a home pc is for…

  9. ganesh says:

    Can any body help me seeing a password protected file using ImageMagick. I tried; it didnt work. Can somebody give me a link from where to install.

    Many thanks,

  10. ganesh says:

    Can any body help me seeing a password protected file using ImageMagick. I tried; it didnt work. Can somebody give me a link from where to install.

  11. jeff says:

    I got the same error msg: “Error: First trailer not found”
    Following snippet of code might give some insight into this:

    00251 ret = getEncryptedInfo(file, e);
    00252 if(ret) {
    00253 if(ret == EENCNF)
    00254 fprintf(stderr, “Error: Could not extract encryption information\n”);
    00255 else if(ret == ETRANF)
    00256 fprintf(stderr, “Error: First trailer not found\n”);

  12. jeff says:

    btw, I used pdfcrack under WinXP, and tried it on an alternatively encrypted pdf file.
    A certificate file (.pfx) was installed before I could open it in Acrobat Reader 7.0.
    So the conclusion is, pdfcrack may not be able to handle such encryption for now.

  13. HARI SARYONO says:

    I am thinking bypassing password routine in pdf reader program, so we don’t need guessing program. In my experience, guessing program always take very very very long time. It was work for weak password, but still, i just need time to install program compared with waiting days to arrive at single word.

  14. Raj says:

    Everything worked for me(printing the passwords). I got a lot of passwords and none of them were working. I don’t know where it went wrong.

  15. f says:

    You can use kpdf (linux) and in settings uncheck “obey DRM limitations”. I’ve used to print password protected pdf.

  16. Joshua McGee says:

    I get: Encrypted Metadata: True ... found user-password: ''

    Does this mean that pdfcrack can’t handle the encryption or … that … somehow it’s encrypted with a blank password? :-/

  17. Guido says:

    What should i do if i have the first 4 chars of the password but i can’t remaind the last 3 or 4 chars???

  18. stasik says:

    super, worked for me. found a 4 digit password in less than a second.
    i got
    found user-password: ‘5525’

  19. brady says:

    I get this error

    The specific version is not supported (EBX_HANDLER – 0)

  20. Andy says:

    Output: The specific version is not supported (Adobe.APS – 65537)

  21. Josh Wheeler says:

    I got the same message. Were you able to figure it out?

  22. Satbir says:

    does it check special characters??? I don’t think it does….

  23. Rainer says:


    I belive PDFCrack does not crack all PDF passwords. I produce two sample PDFs with a 1 character password.

    The file with the passord 9 was immedatliy cracked.

    The file with the password $ was never cracked. I tryed the parameter -c 123456789$- I was not cracked too.

    I believe taht passwords containing §$# are not cracked.

    Any hit wat to do or how to report this as an bug?

    Regards Rainer

  24. Andrew P. says:

    ImageMagick will NOT remove the password protection from a PDF file. It produces a new PDF file that replaces all text with a rendered representation of the text and graphics from the original, but the output file contains NO searchable or copyable text. You might as well be working from a paper hardcopy of the PDF document.

  25. Leif Gregory says:

    If you don’t need to actually recover the password and just want an unprotected version to copy and paste or print, install qpdf and run qpdf –decrypt PROTECTED.pdf UNPROTECTED.pdf

  26. Jack C. says:

    I tested with qpdf. i got an error”
    (encryption dictionary, offset 10504): unsupported encryption filter”

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