How to Copy Text From a PDF

Estimated read time 3 min read


Adobe PDF logo on a gradient background.

Copying text from a PDF file is as easy as opening your PDF in a compatible reader, selecting the text, and choosing the copy option. We’ll show you how to do that in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox.

Note that not all PDFs allow you to copy their content. You can use Adobe’s Acrobat Reader DC to check if that restriction applies to your PDF file.

If your file is protected, you’ll have to use methods like capturing a screenshot of your file and extracting text from it, or scraping text with Chrome.

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader DC to Copy Text From a PDF

To use this method, first, download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader DC app on your computer. Then, check if your PDF allows copying, and if it does, move to the next section to actually copy something from your file.

Check If a PDF Allows Copying of Content

To check a PDF’s restrictions, first, launch your PDF with the Acrobat Reader DC app.

From Acrobat Reader’s menu bar, select File > Properties.

On the “Document Properties” window, choose the “Security” tab.

Access the "Security" tab.

In the “Security” tab, read the value next to “Content Copying.” If it says “Not Allowed,” you can’t copy content from the current PDF file.

PDF content copying not allowed.

If the “Content Copying” value says “Allowed,” you can copy the content. In this case, follow the next section.

PDF content copying allowed.

Copy Text From Your PDF File

To begin copying your text, make sure your PDF is open with Acrobat Reader.

From Acrobat Reader’s top toolbar list, select the “Selection Tool” (which is a standard cursor icon).

Access the "Selection Tool."

Find the text to copy in your PDF. Then, using your cursor, highlight your text.

Highlight the text to copy.

Right-click the highlighted text and select “Copy.”

Choose "Copy" in the menu.

Your chosen text is now copied to your clipboard. You can paste it in any text editor or text field by right-clicking there and choosing “Paste.”

And that’s all there is to it.

RELATED: How to Paste Text Without Formatting Almost Anywhere

Use Chrome, Firefox, or Edge to Copy Text From PDF Files

Most web browsers allow you to view as well as copy content from your PDF files. You can use Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or another PDF-compatible browser to copy the text you need.

In the following steps, we use Chrome to show you how to grab a piece of text from your PDF file.

Start by opening your PDF with Chrome. To do that, locate your PDF in File Explorer, right-click it, and choose Open With > Google Chrome.

Select Open With > Google Chrome.

When your PDF opens, using your cursor, highlight the text to copy.

Select the text to copy.

Right-click the highlighted text and choose “Copy.”

Your browser has copied the text to your clipboard, and you can now paste it anywhere you want.

Enjoy copying valuable content from your portable document format files!

Want to edit a PDF file to make changes to it? If so, you have various ways to do that on your computer.

RELATED: How to Edit a PDF


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