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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Convert Password-Protected PDF Textbook to Plain PDF File

Most online classes use digital textbooks which are usually secure, password-protected PDF books for download.  Although paperless is good, the password-protected textbook is inconvenient and has many restrictions for daily studies.  It requires internet connection for login thus you may not be able to read it offline.  Although the Java script within the PDF may save your credential to let you login to it without internet, it does not always work.  It is even more troublesome if you try to read your textbook by a tablet; I haven't seen a reliable app for either iPad or Android tab to handle the secure PDF textbooks well.  Furthermore, the connection to the textbook is managed by the school's document server, thus if there is any change of configuration on the server side, the downloaded textbooks may not be accessible, you have to download the textbooks again.  to resolve these issues, you need to convert the secure PDF textbook into a plain PDF file so you you can open it without password and read it any time without requiring internet, on either desktop or tablet.

The conversion is fairly easy; just following these steps:

Open the password-protected PDF textbook in Adobe Acrobat Reader (textbook.pdf), login with the password so that you can see all pages of the book. 
Go to Print, select printer "Microsoft XPS Document Writer",
Save the print to a xps file (textbook-xps.xps).

The following step requires Adobe Acrobat Pro.  If you don't have this expensive software, you may do it in your workplace where the software is likely available.

Open the XPS file (textbook-xps.xps) in Adobe Acrobat Pro,

Save it as a PDF file (textbook-xps.pdf), that' it!

What if you don't have Adobe Acrobat Pro at all?

Then you may use online tools to convert xps to PDF.  One online conversion tool I just tried is

It converts my 700-page textbook from xps to PDF with no problem.

Note:  The converted plain PDF textbook is twice bigger in size than the original secured textbook.  For example, a 700-page secured PDF textbook is about 11 MB; it is converted to xps file that becomes 25 MB; the plain PDF converted from xps format is about 21 MB.

There is just one problem -

The converted plain PDF is not searchable.

Acturally, the PDF converted from xps is "renderable" (editable), but the codes are not recognizable thus the document cannot be searched.  Because of this, the PDF document cannot be updated to searchable file using the OCR tool.  If you try to use the "Recognize Text" tool to do OCR on the PDF, you'll get error message on every page of it:  "Acrobat could not perform recognition (OCR) on this page because: This page contains renderable text."

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