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Cannot copy text from a PDF file?

Cannot copy text from a PDF file?

So I ran into a problem the other day when I had to copy some text from a PDF file and paste it into a presentation I was doing. The problem was that I couldn't copy the text! Hmm, I thought, there must be something stupid that I'm doing since I'm pretty sure I've already copied the text from a PDF file.

Fortunately, I wasn't that stupid, since the PDF file had several pages that were scanned bitmap files that had been inserted into the PDF. So it wasn't the real text in the first place. Secondly, where there was real text that could normally be copied, this PDF had some sort of security permissions set on it so that copying of the content was not allowed! Grrrr!

I still needed that text and was about to find a way to get it. In this article, I will describe the simple way of copying text that works if the document is unprotected and the text is not a scanned image. He will also see what to do in the most difficult scenario where you are not allowed to copy the text. Not an ideal solution, but better than nothing, especially if you need to copy a lot of text. Although you can save yourself from typing 80% of it manually, fantastic!

Selecting text in a PDF

In Adobe Reader, if the text can copy, all you have to do is select it and right click and choose Copy .

In other PDF viewers like Foxit, you have to click on Tools and then on Select text .

Obviously, if you were able to do it, you wouldn't be reading this post! But just in case, so you select the text. Now let's move on to the more difficult problem of copying text from protected images or PDF files.

Use OCR to copy the PDF text

You can quickly check if a protected PDF file in Adobe Reader by looking in the title bar and looking for the word SECURED .

You can view specific permissions by clicking on Edit and then clicking Protection and then on Security properties .

In newer versions of Adobe Reader and Acrobat, you need to click Protect in the right pane to view security options.

Then, click on Other options and you will see Security properties.

As you can see below, copying of content is not allowed and password protected security. If you know the password, you can remove the security and copy everything you want.

Unless you're a hacker, breaking your password is not an option. So the only other thing you can do is take a screenshot of the text and then run it through an OCR program. It sounds like too much work, but it really isn't. You can take a screenshot on a Mac or PC without additional software.

Mac : just press Command + Shift + 4 on the keyboard

Windows : use only the Windows Capture Tool

Also, if you have Adobe Acrobat, you can use it to automatically convert the image text into editable text. All you need to do is open the PDF file and click the Edit PDF tool in the right pane. It will automatically scroll through the entire document using OCR and convert it into a fully editable document.

If you have an image with text, copy it to the clipboard and then open Adobe Acrobat and choose File – Create – PDF from the clipboard.

Just click Edit PDF in the right pane and convert the image into editable text.

Here is a screenshot of text that could not be copied from a protected PDF file:

Note that when taking the screenshot, make sure that the document zoom is set to 100% so that the text is clear and sharp. Once you get the screenshot, download a free OCR program. There are a lot of options out there and the results will vary wildly between programs, so you'll need to try a few. Here are two that I've used in the past:



Note that Microsoft OneNote can also be used as it has built-in OCR functionality. Obviously, if you already have OCR software, use that program instead.

The FreeOCR program works well, you just have to make sure that when you are installing it you don't accept any of the "offers" of software, which will only install junk on your computer. But as long as you do, the software has no spyware or something. also tested by CNET to ensure this.

However, once the program is installed, click on the big button You open and choose your image.

I will show you a preview of the image in the left pane. Then click on OCR is start OCR process .

This is all! The text will now be displayed on the right side and you can copy it to the clipboard or export it to Microsoft Word.

Overall, the program has done an excellent job with a few minor errors here and there. It saved me a lot of time even though I didn't have to type all that text manually. Hopefully this will help you copy the text you need from a PDF document. Send comments or questions and answer them. To enjoy!