How to crack, open, or unlock password protected or encrypted ZIP, PDF, RAR, XLS, and XLSX files on Windows for free [Guide]

Ever come across a password protected or encrypted ZIP, PDF, RAR, XLS, or XLSX file that you wanted to extract or open but couldn’t because you didn’t know the password? Yeah, it happens to the best of us. For such situations, you need a way to crack/open/extract/unlock the password protected or encrypted ZIPs, PDFs, RARs, XLSs, or XLSXs. This guide shows you exactly how to do that.

BEFORE WE BEGIN

2013-05-04_225743For the purposes of cracking, opening, extracting, or unlocking password protected or encrypted ZIP, PDF, RAR, XLS, and XLSX files, we will be using a freeware program called Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker.

Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker is a program that makes use of brute-force and/or dictionary attacks to “guess” the password to password protected or encrypted ZIP, PDF, RAR, XLS, and XLSX files. Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker is portable and officially works on Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, Win7 (Win8 isn’t officially supported but it likely works on Win8, too).

Please take note while Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker is portable, it is one of those portable programs that you must “install”. Once installed, you can grab the AppnimiAllInOnePasswordUnlocker.exe file from your installation location (which is C:\Program Files\Appnimi\Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker, unless you change it) and place it on any USB drive, external hard drive, on another computer, etc. — it is portable and will run anywhere without installation.

Also take note, there is no guarantee Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker will be able to crack/open/unlock your ZIP, PDF, RAR, XLS, or XLSX file. As already mentioned, Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker uses brute-force and dictionary attacks to try to guess the password to your ZIP/PDF/RAR/XLS/XLSX file. Essentially what Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker does is it continually tries passwords until one password works. If the password protecting the ZIP/PDF/RAR/XLS/XLSX file is complex and long, Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker may never guess it — or at least not guess it in a timely fashion. For example, you likely won’t be able to crack/open/unlock a ZIP/PDF/RAR/XLS/XLSX file with Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker that has a randomly generated 32-character password… not within your lifetime anyway. However, between brute-force and dictionary attack, Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker should be able to guess passwords used by the average Joe; passwords that aren’t necessarily long or complex.

Now you must be thinking: okay, but how long does it take? Well, that again depends on the complexity and length of the password protecting the ZIP/PDF/RAR/XLS/XLSX file you are trying to crack. If the password is ‘cat123′, then you should be able to crack it within the hour. If the password is twelve characters long, then it will take a lot longer… and I’m not talking hours, I’m talking days and weeks. If the password is longer or more complex, then you may never crack it within a timely fashion. There is no way for me to tell you it will take X minutes to crack a ZIP/PDF/RAR/XLS/XLSX file — it all depends on the password that is used. Cracking ZIP/PDF/RAR/XLS/XLSX files is a game of patience. Extreme patience.

That being said, there are four important things to note about Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker.

Firstly, Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker requires Java 6 or higher to run. If you don’t have Java 6 or higher installed, then Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker will not work for you.

Secondly, Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker comes packed with bundled crapware. By my count, I found it asking me to install three unrelated programs during installation of Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker. To make matters worse, the crapware are the ones that masquerade as legitimate installations by prompting you with a license agreement asking you to either ‘Decline’ or ‘Agree’. Be sure to click ‘Decline’ for all three:

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Thirdly, Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker has one very annoying feature: whenever you run the program, it opens the developer’s homepage in your default internet browser. You can block it from accessing your browser with your firewall but otherwise there is no way to stop this — you just have to deal with it.

Lastly, Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker comes up 1/43 on VirusTotal scan. This means the program is likely safe but proceed at your own risk.

With that being said, let’s begin cracking.

How to crack, open, or unlock password protected or encrypted ZIP, PDF, RAR, XLS, and XLSX on Windows

To crack/open/unlock a password protected or encrypted ZIP/PDF/RAR/XLS/XLSX file, do the following:

  • 2013-05-04_224734Download and install Java, if you don’t have it already. Please take note Java comes bundled with crapware too, so be sure to uncheck the relevant boxes during installation. (As per my tests, Java either comes with Ask Toolbar or McAfee, so be on the lookout for that.)
    • Note: You need Java to run Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker. However, that does not mean you need to keep Java enabled in your internet browser. Due to Java being regularly vulnerable, I’d recommend disabling Java in your internet browser after installing it. Read dotTech’s guide on how to disable Java in Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Opera to learn more.
  • Download and install Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker (10.5 MB). Remember to avoid the bundled crapware.
  • Download and save the dictionary text file (10 MB) I quickly put together¬† — it contains over 200,000 English words (in lowercase + first letter uppercase form) and those English words with 123 at the end.
  • Now run Appnimi All-In-One Passsword Unlocker.
  • From the Inputs tab select the file you want to crack by clicking the Select button and loading the file into Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker.
  • From the same Inputs tab, change Max Length to 32. If you think the password is longer than 32 characters, then change Max Length to whatever length you desire — it can go as high as you want.
  • Next go to the Destination tab and enter the folder on your computer where you want to store the contents of the cracked file., which will be automatically extracted/saved once the password has been found.
  • Now go to the Dictionary tab, use the Select button to load the dictionary text file you just downloaded in an earlier step of this guide (or you can use a different dictionary file, if you have one), and press the Start Dictionary Attack button.
  • Now be patient and wait while Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker uses the dictionary file you loaded to try to crack the password. This can take a while, so feel free to take a coffee break. Or two. Or ten.
  • If Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker is successful using the dictionary attack, you will be given a message on-screen telling you what the password is and you are done:

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If Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker does not find the password using the dictionary attack, you will be given an error message:

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If this happens to you, you then need to use brute-force. Proceed to the next step in this guide to learn how to use brute -force.

  • If Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker does not crack the password using dictionary, you now need to use brute-force. Go to the Brute Force tab.
  • At the Brute Force tab you should see a bunch of stuff in the Characters field. These are the characters that Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker will use while brute-forcing. You can add or remove characters as desired (e.g. maybe you think the password only has letters and no numbers) or you can leave it at default. Whatever you decide to do, hit the Start Brute Force Attack button when ready.
  • Now all you need to do is wait. Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker will continue to attempt to guess the password until it finds the right one. How long this will take depends on how long and complex the password you are trying to crack is. If Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker is successful, you will be shown the password on-screen an you are done:

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If Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker is unsuccessful, you will be shown the following on-screen and you must go back and modify the Max Length in Inputs (increase it) and the Characters in Brute Force (add more different characters) and try again if you want to crack the password:

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Do realize that it may be a while before you get the fail message because brute-forcing, especially with a Max Length of 32, can take a really long time. So you kind of need to decide what is a good time to quit (i.e. give up) if Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker is unable to find your password within a reasonable amount of time while using brute-force.

Repeat this process for every ZIP, RAR, PDF, XLS, and XLSX file you want to know the password of.

CONCLUSION

Cracking the password of protected ZIPs, RARs, PDFs, XLSs, and XLSXs is not a quick and painless process. It takes a lot of guessing and even more patience. However, if you really need access to the contents of the ZIP/RAR/PDF/XLS/XLSX then it may be time well spent. Enjoy!

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18 comments

  1. sanjivsir

    NO NO NO There is a Winrar Password REMOVER JUST SEE GUYS which can directly Removes the winrar password without searching for useless passowords This software any of my friends can see on that sites which are asking for survery to get that tiny software “winrar password remover” it shows green process string and i few seconds u are done and able to open the winrar password remover files……………………………If any body have this tool please send it on to my this email id : sanjivsir.rai@gmail.com I WILL BE PLEASED TO SEE THAT PERSON Because i have not seen even a single person who have this software and helping others …………………………..So this is a chalanging job

  2. ramlal sharma

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    If any body has this software please try to help me because i have some important photos and relatives address in a file of which password i have forgetted Now

    please send it to my Email id ………………………………………………………….I will be pleased to see one man helping me in this regard because on net i have faced so many SURVEY SITES all are selling there products and there aim is to earn only MONEY MONEY AND DIEING FOR MONEY they have no respect for others those people wondering for such good softwares…………………………………..And they really needed this software only for there personal use

  3. Ed

    Looks pretty disappointing to me so far, created a password protected .rar file with a simple lower case mixed with a few numbers 8 characters long and I even told the software how many characters it was, deleted all the special characters and upper case letters form the brute force attack …….. been running four hours now and it is yet to get one letter.

  4. David Roper

    Wouldn’t it just be easier to threaten the password creator with a gun or something to get the PW? Taking three years is too long for a naked picture of Miley Cyrus.

  5. Moriss

    If a password is made up of random characters and upper and lower cases and is over 20 characters long, it will take years to crack it. Not practical at all to even try such adventure. But I have notice even a better way to encrypt a file, run it twice with 2 different password, it can never ever be decrypted again by any means.

  6. mukhi

    [@AT] well, pw cracker is meant to be used with a good intention; therefore, this kind of app is quite good in doing the job. for instance, i use wondershare PDF converter (thanks to GAOTD) to convert protected PDFs to unprotected PPTXs. if you are a hacker, and your guessing/typing speed is too high, there is virtually no technology in the world which can prevent you from accessing protected contents. the very good example is vulnerability of WPS in common routers like linksys, netgear and so on. only apple router is now free from this particular vulnerability till date.

  7. Unregistered

    [@Ashraf]

    I think the real main conclusion should be that it’s entirely possible that the amount of time taken to get the password is too long to be of practical use. Here’s the problem: you could run the program for a week and you wouldn’t know whether you’ll get the password today or next year or next century. And this is not for a particularly long and complex password.

  8. AT

    You really should not say passwords can’t be cracked. You should have said passwords can’t be crack in a timely fashion. A brute force attack using all 256 characters will crack every password. The time it takes to crack is dependent on the amount of resources available to the process.