As long as I know, the encrypted PDF files don't store the decryption password within them, but a hash asociated to this password.

When auditing security, a good attemp to break PDF files passwords is extracting this hash and bruteforcing it, for example using programs like HashCat.

What is the proper method to extract the hash inside a PDF file in order to auditing it with, say, HashCat?

Answers for John the Ripper could be valid too, but I prefer HashCat format due to the easyness of making GPU computing work in Windows and bruteforce with OCLHashCat (the GPU version of HashCat). John the Ripper has a GPU version too, but JTR has no Windows version, at least with GPU enhancement.

1 Answer 1


UPDATE 21 Dec 2017

The script pdf2john.py doesn't exist anymore. It has been substituted by a perl version, pdf2john.pl.

Extracted from HashCat Forums, this method works for me (requires Perl):

--Download pdf2john.pl from the suite John the Ripper (OCLHashCat works with the same hash format as John the Ripper):

wget https://github.com/magnumripper/JohnTheRipper/archive/bleeding-jumbo.zip  
unzip bleeding-jumbo.zip  

--Use it to extract the hash from your .pdf file:

perl JohnTheRipper-bleeding-jumbo/run/pdf2john.pl MyPDF.pdf > MyPDF-Hash.txt

--Output file MyPDF-Hash.txt must be edited. Original would be something like:


so use your preferred editor:

nano MyPDF-Hash.txt
notepad MyPDF-Hash.txt

and leave only the part inside double colons : :


--Hint: you can do the extraction and the edition in one step by using sed (UnxUtils version too, if you are doing it from Windows):

perl JohnTheRipper-bleeding-jumbo/run/pdf2john.pl MyPDF.pdf | sed "s/::.*$//" | sed "s/^.*://" > MyPDF-Hash.txt

--Your MyPDF-Hash.txt file is now ready to use with OCLHashCat (or John the Ripper).


  • Tested working on CygWin (Windows).
  • Tested working on Kali and Ubuntu Linux.
  • pdf2john.py doesn't exist anymore. It has been substituted by a perl version Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 2:59
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    Copying the perl file out of the directory does not work. It needs to be where it is, in the "run" directory, otherwise you'll get an error. Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 5:50
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    To get rid of the irrelevante text on the hash, use this perl JohnTheRipper-bleeding-jumbo/run/pdf2john.pl MyPDF.pdf | awk -F":" '{ print $2}' > MyPDF-Hash.txt Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 17:36
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    I must say, this is the first time I've ever seen an application move from python to perl. I wonder... why? Commented Jan 4, 2020 at 1:09
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    FYI there is a site that runs that script for you if you don't mind uploading the pdf. onlinehashcrack.com/tools-pdf-hash-extractor.php
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 9:30

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