Frequently Asked Questions about the DRM removal tools

Last updated on 2nd April, 2013

Where can I find out more about ebook Formats and DRM Removal Tools?

  • This post explains the various ebook formats and DRM schemes. A guide for the perplexed.
  • This post describes how to install and use the DeDRM plugin for calibre.
  • This post gives the information you need to use the Windows DeDRM application which doesn’t need calibre.
  • This post gives the same information for the Mac OS X DeDRM application.
  • This post has links to downloading a zip archive of all the tools, as well as a comments area for asking questions.

Getting and Using the Tools

I can’t get the tools to work on my rented or library ebooks.

Support for removing DRM from rented or library ebooks is not provided.

The Data File Host download link does not work or just gives me .php files, not .zip files, or says “you can’t download files directly”.

If you are using some kind of ‘fast download’ plugin with your browser, turn it off.

If you have cookies disabled, enable them.

Make sure that you are clicking on the real download button which is grey and immediately under the file description. An apparent download link “DOWNLOAD NOW” on the right hand side of the page is an advert over which I have no control. If you are downloading on Windows, don’t forget to uncheck the checkbox for the download manager.

At busy times Data File Host website might be slow. Be patient.

I am trying to install the calibre plugin, but calibre keeps on saying that the plugin is invalid.

You might be trying to add the tools archive. The tools archive is not a calibre plugin. It is a collection of various DRM removal tools which includes calibre plugin. You must unzip the archive, and install the calibre plugin from a folder called “DeDRM_calibre_plugin” in the unzipped archive.

I’ve fully unzipped the tools archive, but I can’t find the calibre plugin when I try to add them to calibre. I use Windows.

You should select the zip file that is in the “DeDRM_calibre_plugin” folder, not any files inside the plugin’s zip archive. Make sure you are selecting from the tools folder that you created when you right clicked and selected “Extract All…” on the tools zip archive and not selecting a file inside the still-zipped tools archive.

(The problem is that Windows will allow apps to browse inside zip archives without needing to unzip them first. If there are zip archives inside the main zip archives, Windows will show them as unzipped as well. So what happens is people will unzip the tools_vX.X.X.zip to create the tools_vX.X.X folder but when using calibre they will actually navigate to the still zipped file by mistake and cannot tell they have done so because they do not have file extensions showing. So to the unwary Windows user, it appears that the zip archive was unzipped and that everything inside it was unzipped as well so there is no way to install the plugins.

This is why we strongly recommend renaming the tools_vX.X.X.zip archive (after extracting its contents) to tools_zip_vX.X.X.zip. If people do that, they are less likely to navigate to the wrong location from inside calibre.)

I have installed the calibre plugins, but now I get an error “Plugin not configured! Decryption unsuccessful. This may be the first time you’ve used this plugin (or the first time since upgrading this plugin). You’ll need to open the customization dialog (Preferences->Plugins->File type plugins).”

You have an old version of the plugin for Barnes & Noble ePubs installed. Make sure you remove all of the old versions of the plugins after installing the new all-in-one DeDRM plugin.

How do I remove the old plugins?

  • Open calibre
  • Select the menu “Preferences/Change calibre behavior”
  • Select “Plugins” (on the bottom row, green jigsaw-puzzle button)
  • Check the check box “Show only user installed plugins”
  • Click on the “>” arrow in the line: “> File type plugins”
  • For each old plugin in turn,
    • Click on the plugin to select it
    • Click on the remove plugin button
    • Click on OK button in the confirmation dialog
    • If there are more to delete, click on the “>” arrow in the line: “> File type plugins” to re-open the list.
  • Click “Apply” (top left of dialog)
  • Click “Close” (bottom right of dialog)

I have installed the calibre plugin, but my books still have DRM. When I try to view or convert my books, calibre says they has DRM.

The DRM only gets removed when the ebook is imported into calibre. If the book is already in calibre, you must delete the book from calibre and import the ebook again. It is not enough to just import the book again: calibre will discard the newly imported DRM-free version as a duplicate, leaving only the original DRMed version.

I have installed the calibre plugin or I am trying to use one of the other tools, but I don’t know where my ebooks are stored.

Your ebooks are stored on your computer or on your ebook reader. You need to find them to be able to remove the DRM. If they are on your reader, you should be able to locate them easily. On your computer it’s not so obvious. Here are the default locations.

Macintosh

Navigating from your home folder,

Kindle ebooks are in either Library/Application Support/Kindle/My Kindle Content or Documents/My Kindle Content or Library/Containers/com.amazon.Kindle/Data/Library/Application Support/Kindle/My Kindle Content, depending on your version of Kindle for Mac.

Adobe Digital Editions ebooks are in Documents/Digital Editions

Windows

Navigating from your My Documents folder

Kindle ebooks are in My Kindle Content

Adobe Digital Editions ebooks are in My Digital Editions

Mobipocket Reader ebooks are in My ebooks

I have installed the calibre plugin, and the book is not already in calibre, but the DRM does not get removed.

You must use the exact file that is used by your ebook reading software or hardware. See the previous question on where to find your ebook files. Do not use an old copy you have that you can no longer read.

If you cannot read the ebook on your current device or installed software, the tools will certainly not be able to remove the DRM. Download a fresh copy that does work with your current device or installed software.

I have installed the calibre plugins and the book is not already in calibre, but the DRM does not get removed. It is a Barnes & Noble book.

The most likely cause is the wrong name and/or number in the configuration field of the tool.

  • Sign in to your Barnes & Noble account
  • Click on My Account
  • In the block Account Settings note the following:
    • your name, as given directly under the line PERSONAL INFORMATION
    • your name, as given in the default shipping address
    • your name, as given as the name on the default credit card
    • the credit card number listed under the line PAYMENT SETTINGS, Default payment. Of course only a part is shown.

Now for the tools. Use the following in the configuration fields:

Name: use the name you copied above. Do not use your login username, do not use your email address. In what seems to be rare circumstances the name used by Barnes and Noble is the name listed for the default shipping address or the active credit card instead of the account name. If you are sure you did everything right and the tools still do not decrypt, make more keys using the other forms of your name.

Credit card: use the full number of the above mentioned card. If you have used multiple credit cards, use the number that was marked active at the time the book was downloaded. If you are not completely sure, redownload the book as it will be re-encrypted at that moment, and use the current default card number.

I have installed the calibre plugin, and the book is not already in calibre, but the DRM does not get removed. It is a Kindle book.

If you are on Windows 8 and using the Windows 8 AppStore Kindle app, you must download and install the Kindle for PC application directly from the Amazon website. The tools do not work with the Windows 8 AppStore Kindle app.

If this book is from an eInk Kindle, you must enter the serial number into the configuration dialog. The serial number is sixteen characters long, starts with a ‘B’ or a ‘9’ and is case-sensitive.

If this book is from Kindle for Mac or Kindle for PC, you must have the Kindle Software installed on the same computer as your copy of calibre.

If the book is from Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac and you think you are doing everything right, and you are getting this message, it is possible that the files containing the encryption key aren’t quite in the format the tools expect. To try to fix this:

  1. Deregister Kindle for PC(Mac) from your Amazon account.
  2. Uninstall Kindle for PC(Mac)
  3. Delete the Kindle for PC(Mac) preferences
    • PC: Delete the directory [home folder]\AppData\Local\Amazon (it might be hidden) and [home folder]\My Documents\My Kindle Content
    • Mac: Delete the directory [home folder]/Library/Application Support/Kindle/
      and/or [home folder]/Library/Containers/com.amazon.Kindle/Data/Library/Application Support/Kindle/ (one or both may be present and should be deleted)
  4. Reinstall Kindle for PC(Mac)
  5. re-register Kindle for PC(Mac) with your Amazon account
  6. Download the ebook again. Do not use the files you have downloaded previously.

Some of my books had their DRM removed, but some still say that they have DRM and will not convert.

There are several possible reasons why only some books get their DRM removed.

  • You still don’t have the DRM removal tools working correctly, but some of your books didn’t have DRM in the first place.
  • You added your books to calibre in large batches. For some unknown reason, sometimes calibre stops using the plugin after a while on a single import. Delete the books that still have DRM and import them into calibre in batches of twenty.
  • Kindle only: It is a Topaz format book and contains some coding that the tools do not understand. You will need to get a log of the deDRM attempt, and then send the book and the PID (shown in the log) for the book to Apprentice Alf, so that the tools can be updated.

If you are still having problems with particular books, you will need to create a log of the DRM removal attempt for one of the problem books, and post that in a comment.

I didn’t use to have any problems with the tools and my Kindle ebooks, but now I’m getting .azw3 files instead of .mobi files.

Amazon have introduced a new format, KF8, which the tools identify by giving the extension .azw3. Recent versions of calibre know about .azw3 files and can convert them to Mobipocket or ePub. To view .azw3 files with calibre it is necessary to tell calibre to use its internal viewer for .azw3 files in calibre Preferences/Change calibre behaviour/Behaviour/.

Do the tools work on books from Kobo?

Kobo uses Adobe Digital Editions encryption, but it also uses its own application and encryption system, so you might not have already installed Adobe Digital Editions. You must do so in order to get your Kobo books as DRM-free ePubs.

Once you have installed ADE, you must authorise it with an Adobe ID. Failing to do that will link your DRMed ebooks to this particular installation of ADE, instead of to an ID that can be used with any new installation. Do this before you try getting any DRMed ebooks loaded into Adobe Digital Editions. (Help menu/Authorize Computer… Choose Adobe ID for “ebook Vendor” and enter your Adobe ID and password. Adobe ID is usually your email address.)

OK, so now you have installed ADE and authorised it with an Adobe ID.

Your Kobo books are all available in your Kobo library at http://www.kobobooks.com/library/reading.html

Some are DRM free and have a blue button “DOWNLOAD EPUB”.

Some are Adobe DRM eubs and have a blue button “ADOBE DRM EPUB”

Clicking on the “ADOBE DRM EPUB” button downloads a ‘.acsm’ file. This is a link file used by Adobe Digital Editions to download the actual ePub, and it is at this point that the DRM gets applied for your installation of Adobe Digital Editions. Make sure your ADE is authorised to your Adobe ID before doing this next bit.

Right-click on the ‘.acsm’ file and select Adobe Digital Edition to open it. It will open Adobe Digital Editions, and your ePub will download. See Where are my ebooks? to find the location of the downloaded ADE ePub. You can now use whichever of the ADE DRM removal tools is most convenient for you on this file to obtain your DRM-free ePub.

Do the tools work on books from Sony?

Sony ebooks also rely on encryption from Adobe, and the way to remove the DRM is very similar to the Kobo situation. You should install and register Adobe Digital Editions in the same way, and you will be able to download ‘.acsm’ files in the same way, as described in the answer about Kobo ebooks above.

I cannot solve my problem the DeDRM plugin, and now I need to ‘post a log’. How do I do that?

On Macintosh only you must first run calibre, open Preferences, open Miscellaneous, and click on the “Install command line tools” button. (On Windows and Linux the command line tools are installed automatically.)

On Windows, open a terminal/command window. (Start/Run… and then type ‘cmd’ (without the ‘’) as the program to run).

On Macintosh, open the Terminal application (in your Utilities folder).

On Linux open a command window. Hopefully all Linux users know how to do this on their system, as it varies.

You should now have a text-based command-line window open. Make sure that calibre isn’t running.

Now type in ‘calibre-debug -g’ (without the ‘’) and press return key. Calibre will launch in debug mode, and various diagnostic information will be written to the terminal window.

Import the ebook into calibre. More information will be written to the terminal window.

Now copy the output from the terminal window.

On Windows, you must use the window menu (little icon at left of window bar) to select all the text and then to copy it.

On Macintosh and Linux, just use the normal text select and copy commands.

Paste the information into a comment describing your problem.

I cannot solve my problem with one of the DeDRM applications, and now I need to ‘post a log’. How do I do that?

On Macintosh, the DeDRM application creates a log file on your desktop every time it is run. Copy the contents of that (it is a simple text file) and paste it into your comment.

On Windows, the DeDRM application creates a log file in your home directory every time it is run. Copy the contents of that (it is a simple text file) and paste it into your comment.

Why don’t the tools work with Kindle Fire ebooks?

The Kindle Fire is Android based unlike any of the earlier standalone Kindles and the current tools will not work with ebooks from Kindle Fire devices.

Your only workaround is to install Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac and use books from there instead.

Why doesn’t the UDID of my iOS device work for my Kindle for iOS ebooks?

Unfortunately, for most people, the tools no longer work with ebooks from the Kindle for iOS application. The is because Apple no longer allows applications to use the UDID, and so Amazon can’t get access to it.

Some long-term users of the iOS application may find it still works, because Amazon still have a note of their UDID from before the ban came into operation. New installations definitely won’t work.

Your only workaround is to install Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac and use books from there instead.

Do the tools work on books from the Apple iBooks Store?

Books from Apple’s iBooks Store use a variant of Apple’s Fairplay DRM and therefore the tools in the main tools archive will not work with these ebooks. The only tools known to work for these books is Requiem version 3.3.6 by Brahms. See this post for more details.

I’ve got the tools archive and I’ve read all the FAQs but I still can’t install the tools and/or the DRM removal doesn’t work

  • Read the ReadMe_First.txt file in the top level of the tools archive
  • Read the ReadMe file in the folder of the tools you want to use.
  • If you still can’t remove the DRM, ask in the comments on the most recent post in this blog, reporting the error as precisely as you can, what platform you use, what tool you have tried, what errors you get, and what versions you are using. If the problem happens when running one of the tools, post a log (see previous questions on how to do this).

General Questions

Once the DRM has been removed, is there any trace of my personal identity left in the ebook?

The tools only remove the DRM. No attempt is made to remove any personally identifying information.

What are Kindle Topaz ebooks? HTMLZ? SVG?

Most Amazon Kindle ebooks are Mobipocket format ebooks, or the new KF8 format. However, some are in a format known as Topaz. The Topaz format is only used by Amazon. A Topaz ebook is a collections of glyphs and their positions on each page tagged with some additional information from that page including OCRed text (Optical Character Recognition generated Text) to allow searching, and some additional layout information. Each page of a Topaz ebook is effectively a description of an image of that page. To convert a Topaz ebook to another format is not easy as there is not a one-to-one mapping between glyphs and characters/fonts. To account for this, two different formats are generated by the DRM removal software. The first is an html description built from the OCRtext and images stored in the Topaz file (HTMLZ). This format is easily reflowed but may suffer from typical OCRtext errors including typos, garbled text, missing italics, missing bolds, etc. The second format uses the glyph and position information to create an accurate scalable vector graphics (SVG) image of each page of the book that can be viewed in web browsers that support svg images (Safari, Firefox 4 or later, etc). Additional conversion software can be used to convert these SVG images to an image only PDF file. The DeDRM and Kindlebooks tools from this site provide both versions of the Topaz ebook so that the user can choose which one to use. The K4MobiDeDRM plugin only produces the html version of the ebook. The html version can be manually cleaned up and spell checked and then converted using Sigil/calibre to epubs, mobi ebooks, and etc.

I’ve bought Mobipocket ebooks from an on-line retailer without having to enter the PID of my copy of Mobipocket Reader, and I can read them in Mobipocket Reader. But when I try to convert them to another format, calibre says that they have DRM, but the tools say they don’t contain a PIDs, and I should open them in Mobipocket Reader. What’s going wrong?

The books are downloaded without a PID, but still encrypted. Opening them in Mobipocket Reader causes Mobipocket Reader to create a copy of the ebook that contains with the Mobipocket Reader’s PID. This copy is stored in the My ebooks folder in your My Documents folder. It’s this copy that you must use with the DRM removal tools.

Are the tools open source? How can I be sure they are safe and not a trojan horse?

All the DRM removal tools hosted here are almost entirely scripts of one kind or another: Python, Applescript or Windows Batch files. So they are inherently open source, and open to inspection by everyone who downloads them. The source for any compiled pieces are provided right inside the tools themselves.

I have an old encrypted PDF file that won’t open in Adobe Digital Editions, how can I remove the DRM?

If your PDF ebooks cannot be read in Adobe Digital Editions, the tools here cannot help. They are probably encrypted using the Content Server 3 (or earlier) methods which Adobe no longer support, not even to allow conversion to Content Server 4 (AKA Adobe Digital Editions).

See http://www.adobe.com/products/contentserver/migrate.html for more details.

Adobe only allowed a nine month window (March-December 2009) for migration to Adobe Digital Editions after the Content Server 3 servers were discontinued.

You might be able to find tools to remove the DRM from other sites, but there are several different old encryption schemes for PDF files, and I’m unfamiliar with them. Tetrachroma’s blog http://tetrachroma.wordpress.com/ might be a good starting point for Windows users, as he’s done a lot of work on some PDF DRM scheme called ‘File Open’.

What ebooks do these tools work on?

The tools linked from this blog remove DRM from PDF, EPUB, eReader, Mobipocket, KF8, Print Replica and Topaz format ebooks using Adobe Adept, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and eReader DRM schemes.

Note these tools do NOT ‘crack’ the DRM. They simply allow the book’s owner (and only the book’s owner) to use the encryption key information already stored someplace on their computer or device to decrypt the ebook in the same manner the official ebook reading software uses.

Microsoft LIT format ebooks using Microsoft’s DRM scheme can have the DRM removed using ConvertLit from http://convertlit.com/.

Apple’s Fairplay DRM scheme, used on most ebooks bought at Apple’s iBookstore can have the DRM removed using Requiem. See my post Apple and ebooks: iBookstore DRM and how to remove it for more details and links.

Who wrote these scripts?

The authors tend to identify themselves only by pseudonyms:

  • The Adobe Adept and Barnes & Noble scripts were created by i♥cabbages
  • The Amazon Mobipocket and eReader scripts were created by The Dark Reverser
  • The Amazon K4PC DRM/format was further decoded by Bart Simpson aka Skindle
  • The Amazon K4 Mobi tool was created by by some_updates, DiapDealer and mdlnx
  • The Amazon Topaz DRM removal script was created by CMBDTC
  • The Amazon Topaz format conversion was created by some_updates, clarknova, and Bart Simpson
  • The DeDRM all-in-one AppleScript application was created by Apprentice Alf
  • The DeDRM all-in-one Python application was created by some_updates
  • The DeDRM all-in-one calibre plugins was created by Apprentice Alf, based on plugins created by DiapDealer
  • The Scuolabooks tool was created by Hex
  • The Microsoft code was created by drs
  • The Apple DRM removal tool was created by Brahms

Since the original versions of the scripts and programs were released, various people have helped to maintain and improve them, mainly some_updates, DiapDealer and me (Apprentice Alf).

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