Quicktip: Unprotect Word Documents

Ever get one of those documents from your management or sales that you can open just fine but is protected from editing and yet everyone wants you to update it? Happens way more than we’d like to acknowledge, but it does happen. Usually you can find someone who knows the password, but sometimes you’re presented with that deer in the headlights look and know that you know need to go find a tool or buy a tool to hack into the document.

Unless you know this nifty little trick:

  1. Open the protected Word document (note that this quicktip does not address if you need a password to open the document).
  2. Click File –> Save As and save it as an RTF document (if you get any compatibility errors just click through them)
  3. Right-click on the document and select Open with and then choose NOTEPAD.
  4. It will probably take a while for Notepad to fully open it.
  5. Hit Ctrl-F and search for the term passwordhash
  6. Remove everything after passwordhash until you hit the bracket }
  7. Close and save Notepad.
  8. Open the document back in Word.
  9. Go to Review –>Restrict Editing –>Stop Protection. Save the document back as a Word document and you’re done!

Note that you can’t do this process directly by editing the doc or docx.

Now wasn’t that easy?


6 thoughts on “Quicktip: Unprotect Word Documents

  1. There’s some online services that specialize in unprotecting Word and other docs if you don’t want to bother with it yourself. It’s as easy as it sounds: you upload a protected document to the server and get it back in several seconds with all passwords removed! Used the one named http://www.Password-find.com and had no trouble with it. Hope it’ll help someone!

  2. John Marsh says:

    I’ve just used these instructions and they worked a treat. Don’t bother with the paid for service.

  3. Steve Young says:

    This worked great! Thanks for sharing some knowledge.

  4. Diana says:

    Thank you! works great!

  5. squigglysage says:

    this worked! thanks for the tip!

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