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How to Copy Text From a PDF File

Step-by-step instructions on how you can copy text from a PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

It is actually easy to copy content from PDF files unless the author applied security settings that disallow copying. But while not all PDFs allow you to copy their content, you can still make use of Adobe’s Acrobat Reader DC to see if that restriction applies to your PDF file.

However, in case the file is protected, you’ll have to use methods such as capturing a screenshot of your file and extracting text from it, or scraping text with Chrome.

Note: Not all browsers and online readers support copying text from a PDF. Most of the time, you’ll only be able to choose certain parts of the PDF or none at all. We recommend you download the file and open it in Adobe’s Acrobat Reader DC for the best results.

In this article, we are going to give you step-by-step instructions on how you can copy text from a PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Here’s how to:

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader DC to Copy Text From a PDF

Adobe offers a range of tools that allow users to edit, convert, sign and even password protect PDF files. In this tutorial, you need to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader DC app on your computer. Then, confirm if your PDF allows copying.

Confirm if a PDF Allows Content Copying

Step 1: Launch your PDF file with the Acrobat Reader DC app.

Step 2: From Acrobat Reader’s menu bar, select File > Properties.

Step 3: On the “Document Properties” window, click the “Security” tab then review the Document Restrictions Summary.

If the value next to “Content Copying” says “Not Allowed,” you can’t copy content from the PDF file but in case the “Content Copying” value says “Allowed,” you can copy the content.

Copy Text From Your PDF File

Step 1: Make sure that your PDF is open with Acrobat Reader.

Step 2: From Acrobat Reader’s top toolbar list, select the “Selection Tool”

Step 3: Choose the text you want to copy from your PDF. Then, with the help of your cursor, highlight the text.

Step 4: Right-click the highlighted text and choose “Copy.”

Your Selected text is now copied to your clipboard and you can paste it anywhere.

Use a Web Browser to Copy Text From PDF Files

Almost all web browsers allow you to view and copy content from your PDF files. You can use either Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or any other PDF-compatible browser to copy the text you want.

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

Step 1: Open your PDF with Chrome. You can do this by locating your PDF in File Explorer, right-click it, and choose Open With > Google Chrome.

Step 2: Once your PDF opens, with the help of your cursor, highlight the text you wish to copy.

Step 3: Right-click the highlighted text and select “Copy.”

Congratulations! The text has been copied to your clipboard, and you can now paste it anywhere you want.

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Winnie Nantongo

Winnie is a tech reporter passionate about business in tech & media.
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