How to Print a Non-Printable PDF

Have you ever been frustrated when trying to print a portable document format (PDF) file only to find out that it is print-protected and you cannot do something about it? You thought it may be good to take a screenshot of every page then save it as an image in a Microsoft Word document. However, you’ll get more frustrated when you realize that it is a tedious task and all you wanted really is to be able to read a hard copy of the document instead of reading it from the computer monitor. I experienced the same and I won’t probably mind if that happens when I was still young. But as I grow older, my eyes get strained quickly for staring too long in the computer screens, so when reading PDF, especially if I need to refer to it over and over again when doing some work, having it printed is my way to go.

I did an online job before where the instructions are in PDF, however, they are print-protected. As I need to refer to the document every now and then, I hate switching windows all the time, aside from it puts too much strain into my eyes flipping PDF pages every now and then. So I came up with this idea which I initially thought will work, and I am glad it did, and I am happy to share it with you if you find it useful.

If you open your PDF on a reader software such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, when you check the File menu, you will notice that the Print command is greyed out, it means the PDF is print-protected. You cannot print the file. The creator of the PDF will have his/her own valid reasons for doing so and do not blame them for that.

Even if you try printing it using the right-click command in Windows Explorer, you'll get a message that such operation is not permitted. But as I have said, there’s a way to circumvent that.

Here's come the get-around. The way is to funnel your PDF into another software. For the purpose of this tutorial, I am using Opera browser which you can download here. For those who are not familiar with Opera browser, it has been a player in the web browser industry for more than two decades. However, it lags behind popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox in terms of user base. Since 2013, the core code of the browser is based from the open-source Chromium browser, which Google Chrome is also based. While Chrome and Opera are both based from Chromium, I haven't tested this trick in Chrome so I won't guarantee that it will work. As of this writing, the version I am using for Opera is 62.0.3331.18, future updates of the software may leave this trick obsolete or unusable.

What you do is to open your PDF in your Opera browser. Opening PDFs within the browser is very common. You may have experienced opening a PDF attachment in an email and your web browser will open it directly instead of asking you where to save the file. Simply open Opera and drag your PDF into the browser.

Chances are you will encounter this message, it if doesn't open the PDF right away. Just cancel it and use the Choose File button to locate your PDF.

And it should open now.

The main part of this trick is using the PDF printer built-in in the browser. It's like printing a webpage or a part thereof. Press Ctrl+P to bring out the Print Dialog Box. You will see in the Destination => Save to PDF. If it is not the default selection, click on the dropdown to select it.

What it does is it will convert your PDF into a "new" PDF, which is the printable version. It will ask you where to save your new PDF and just select the folder that you want it saved into. If we open the "new" PDF in Acrobat Reader, you'll see that the Print command is not greyed-out anymore. You can now print the PDF as you wish.

Be noted that the "new" PDF will have a much larger file size than the original one. In this example, my original PDF is 2.9mb and the size of the generated printable PDF is a whopping 33.4mb. It takes a lot of space so I recommend that you delete the "new" PDF once you have printed what you need.

Aside from printing print-protected PDFs, you can also use this trick when you do not have any PDF printer (e.g. CutePDF) installed on your computer and you need to have a PDF of just a few pages of another PDF. For example, you have a PDF manual of your new appliance but you just want to have a PDF copy of the English version, as most manuals come in various languages. You can just do the same steps above and print to PDF all the pages that are in English.

There you have it folks, I hope you learn something from this tutorial and I appreciate your feedback by commenting below.

Note: All products, brands, and trademarks are properties of their respective owners
Disclaimer: The intent of this tutorial is to help people print hardcopies of documents they find difficult to read on their computer screens. It does not condone, support, or encourage anyone to violate terms of use, distribute printed copies of copyrighted materials, or break any agreements or laws regarding print protection of PDFs. I won’t be held liable for any damage caused by this tutorial.

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