Is there a way to encrypt a pdf with 128AES using only preinstalled ubuntu software of software from main repository? I noticed that exproting from libre office into pdf (one possibility) encrypts it whith a week encryption. Is there a way to to it e.g. using qpdf?

  • Using a qpdf it is possible to chose user and owner password. I am a totally new to ubuntu and I want just to set a password which prevents the pdf to be opened.
    – Emma
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 19:05

2 Answers 2


After installing qpdf, you can encrypt pdf with password of your choice from command line in the following way.

qpdf --encrypt test123 test123 40 -- doc_without_pass.pdf doc_with_pass.pdf

Where test123 is both the user and owner password

To decrypt the pdf file you can use the following

qpdf --password=test123 --decrypt doc_with_pass.pdf doc_without_pass2.pdf

QPDF is capable of encrypting a file with 256-bit encryption keys and AES (or the default RC4 with 40, 128 or 256 bit key lengths). The relevant information and command line options are in the QPDF manual.

  • 1
    Thank you for the information I checked the manual several times now but I am not sure what to type into the terminal, could you please provide a simple example how to do it?
    – Emma
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 23:26
  • @Emma it looks like you just need to set the key length to 128 and then add the --use-aes=y flag e.g. qpdf --encrypt <user-password> <owner-password> 128 --use-aes=y -- somefile.pdf somefile_encrypted.pdf where <user-password> and <owner-password> are passwords of your choice. Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 23:12
  • 1
    Very strange. I tried encrypting a file with the command qpdf --encrypt test123 test123 256 -- input.pdf encrypted.pdf. It produces a file encrypted.pdf that can be correctly decrypted with qpdf --password=test123 --decrypt encrypted.pdf decrypted.pdf however, when I try to directly open encrypted.pdf with evince or okular and I'm asked for the password, I input test123 but it says that the password is wrong... Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 11:41
  • 4
    That's because Evince doesn't support AES yet, see this bug: bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=726598. Also, here is a list of different encryption methods corresponding to different PDF versions: pdflib.com/knowledge-base/pdf-password-security/encryption.
    – Anatoli
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 17:43

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