Whether you want to copy text from a PDF file to add to a Word document, paste a formula into an Excel spreadsheet, or paste into PowerPoint slides for a presentation, it can be as simple as using Copy and Paste. P>
However, this may not necessarily work for all PDFs due to security and other permissions, but there are other ways to accomplish the same task.
How to copy text from a PDF
Before you can copy text from a PDF to another application, you need to make sure that there are no security settings prohibiting copying, otherwise you will not be able to copy anything. This may be indicated by a grayed out or dimmed copy function in the Reader.
If the PDF file you received is password protected, use the specified password combination to open it, and then check your security settings to ensure that copying of the content is allowed.
- To do this: click the document and select “Document Properties”.
- Click the Security tab and view the summary of document restrictions to see if content copying is allowed.
Note. A content-restricted PDF usually has the word â€œSecureâ€ next to the file name at the top.
- Open the PDF file in any reader, and then copy the text you want using any of the following methods.
In this tutorial, we’ll go over several ways to copy text from a PDF file.
Copy and paste function
This is the de facto method of copying text from most documents or files, not just PDFs. You can use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + C to copy the text you want, and then use CTRL + V to paste it into another document.
If you’re using a Mac, press Command-C to copy text and Command-V to paste the contents of the clipboard into the current document or application.
Alternatively, you can use the right mouse button or touchpad and select the Select tool.
Select the text you want to copy into the PDF document by dragging your mouse to select the part you want to copy, right-click the selected text and select Copy.
You can also go to the menu tab and click Edit> Copy. After copying, navigate to the document where you want to paste the copied text, right-click the location where you want to place it and choose Paste, or click Edit> Paste.
Snapshot or Screenshot Tool
The Snapshot tool in a PDF reader helps you select the text you want to use as a screenshot or image, and then paste it into another document without affecting the formatting. If you choose this method, you get exactly the part of the text you want, but it cannot be edited.
To do this, open the PDF, click Edit> Take Snapshot.
Alternatively, select the title bar of the PDF window and press Alt + PrtScn on your keyboard to take a screenshot, and then crop the desired part.
If you’re using a Mac, press Command + Shift + 4 and use the on-screen cursor to drag and select the text you want to keep.
Online PDF Reader
You can copy text from a PDF document in a browser or online reader.
To do this, open the PDF file in your browser by right-clicking the file and choosing Open With> (select your browser) or by dragging and dropping it into an open browser window.
Highlight the text you want. Press CTRL + C to copy text and paste it into another document using CTRL + V. You can also right-click or touch pad and select Copy, then right-click another document and select Paste again
A third-party PDF extraction tool can also help you extract text for use in another application like Word, PowerPoint presentation, or desktop publishing software.
You can use a tool such as ExtractPDF, download the PDF file, and click Start. The tool will extract images, text or even fonts if you like, after which you can copy what you want from the extracted content and paste it into another application.
There are many third-party PDF extraction tools that convert them to HTML while preserving the page layout. They also extract and convert the content of a PDF document to vector graphics formats that you can use in other applications.
The PDF Converter allows you to convert a PDF document into an editable document, after which you can copy the text and use it in another application.
One of the popular PDF converters is SmallPDF because it is an online tool that requires no installation and is easy to use. To use it, open SmallPDF in your browser, choose an output format like PDF to Word.
Click Select File to download the PDF you want to convert.
Click Download to save the converted file to your device. Then open the converted Word document and copy the text you want.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) tool allows you to convert a PDF file to an editable Word document, copy text from PDF files and scanned images to editable text formats.
This is especially useful if you received a scanned PDF document as it instantly turns such files into editable PDFs with custom fonts and editable text that look exactly like the original document.
Adobe Acrobat works as an OCR converter because it automatically extracts text from scanned images or paper documents and converts them to PDF files.
The best part is that your PDF will match the original printout thanks to the automatic creation of a custom font, and you can use it with other Office applications by cutting and pasting or exporting to MS-Office. It also allows you to maintain the exact appearance of your document and restrict content editing.
Note. You will need Adobe Acrobat to complete these steps, not Adobe Reader, since the latter is only for viewing PDFs and does not have a text recognition tool.
To use the native OCR tool in Adobe Acrobat, open the PDF file containing the scanned text or image in Acrobat for PC or Mac and click Edit PDF.
Acrobat will automatically apply OCR to the PDF and convert it to a fully editable copy. Select the text you want to copy and click Edit> Copy, then paste it into another application.
You can click File> Save As to save the edited document for later use.
Alternatively, open a scanned document or image with which you want to use the OCR program, click Tools at the top right of the toolbar, and choose Recognize Text> In This File.
You will see a popup with the current general settings, such as OCR language, PDF output style, and resolution. Click “OK” for the text to be recognized.
If you want to change the settings, click Change and then click OK when you are done.
Once the text is recognized on the scanned page, you can select and copy the desired text with the detected formatting, although this is not as accurate as OCR.
If you only have Adobe Reader and don’t want to get a copy of Acrobat, there are free OCR tools like OneNote OCR for PC that you can use for free, or Tesseract OCR Library for Mac.
Note. If you have Adobe Acrobat installed, you can recognize multiple documents at the same time. Just open any document in Acrobat, click Recognize Text in the Tools sidebar, and choose In Multiple Files. Drag and drop the PDFs you want to OCR and Acrobat recognizes the text for you.
Do you have any other tricks that you use to copy text from a PDF file? Let us know in the comments below.