There’s always been a need to remove passwords from protected Microsoft Word documents when you need to make a change. My most common occurrence is with Human Resource (HR) forms. HR staff will create the MS Word document, password protect it, and then upload it to our company intranet. However, when I need to fill the form out, the only way to do so is to print the form, sign my name, scan the signed & printed form, and them email it back to them. What I would like to do, is to just paste a scan of my signature onto the form, save as a PDF, and them email them the PDF saving printing and scanning time and paper (which would then need to be shredded).

Here’s a trick that I learned a long time ago.

Make sure the MS Word document is password protected

  1. Open the document in MS Word
  2. Select the “Review” tab in MS Word
  3. Click and Hold the “Protect Document” button to reveal more choices
  4. Click “Restrict Formatting and Editing”
  5. You should see a “Stop Protection” button on the bottom of the opened panel
  6. Click the “Stop Protection” button

If it prompts you for a password, then let’s continue to remove the password.


Removing the Password from the MS Word document

Step 1. Convert document to RTF
  1. Click “Save As…” menu option, then choose “Other Formats”
  2. Select “Rich Text Format (*.rtf)” file type and provide a filename ending with .rtf
  3. Close the document and/or MS Word
Step 2. Remove password
  1. Open Notepad (or any text editor, I prefer Notepad2)
  2. Open the RTF file (from step 2) in the text editor
  3. Search for “passwordhash”. You should see text that looks something like this:
    {\*\passwordhash ########}
  4. Select the text after “passwordhash” until you get to the “}” (curly bracket). Make sure to not select the “}” or “{“ characters!
  5. Delete the selected text
  6. The text should look something like this now:
  7. Save the file and close your text editor


Step 3. Convert back to MS Word and Stop Protection
  1. Open the RTF file using MS Word
  2. Click “Save As…” menu option, then choose “Word Document (*.docx)”
  3. Select the “Review” tab in MS Word
  4. Click and Hold the “Protect Document” button to reveal more choices
  5. Click “Restrict Formatting and Editing”
  6. Click the “Stop Protection” button

All done! You should have an unprotected Microsoft Word document now.