How to Copy and Paste from a PDF

Thu. 07 Sep. 20231523

Have you ever tried copying a snippet of text or an image for reference in a PDF file but struggled with using the editor app? You're not alone. This blog post will guide you through the ins and outs of copying and pasting from a PDF.

Whether you're a student aiming to grab some text for your report, a professional preparing a presentation, or just looking to make life a little easier, this guide is for you.



How to Copy and Paste from a PDF on Windows

Use one of two efficient methods to copy the PDF contents using your Windows operating system.


Navigate, edit, and
convert PDFs like a Pro
with PDF Reader Pro


Easily customize PDFs: Edit text, images,
pages, and annotations with ease.


Advanced PDF conversion: Supports
multi-format document processing with OCR.


Seamless workflow on Mac,
Windows, iOS, and Android.

Don’t let PDFs slow your efficiency DOWNLOAD NOW


Step 1: Open Your Original PDF Document

Image Source: PDF Reader Pro

Step 2: Use Our Content Copying Methods

Method 1: Select Your Text

  • Click and drag your cursor over the text you want to copy. 
  • Right-click on this selected copy.
  • Paste it into a note application or Word Document of your choice.

Image Source: PDF Reader Pro

Method 2: Turn it into an Editable Text Document

  • Click "OCR" on the menu bar.
  • Select the pages you would like to change into an editable document.
  • This will extract all text, including text on an image-only PDF. 

Image Source: PDF Reader Pro 

How to Copy and Paste from a PDF on Mac

Use our advanced PDF editor to extract text from your document in minutes using your Mac operating system. 


Navigate, edit, and
convert PDFs like a Pro
with PDF Reader Pro


Easily customize PDFs: Edit text, images,
pages, and annotations with ease.


Advanced PDF conversion: Supports
multi-format document processing with OCR.


Seamless workflow on Mac,
Windows, iOS, and Android.

Don’t let PDFs slow your efficiency DOWNLOAD NOW


Step 1: Open Your Digital Document

Step 2: Extract and Copy Text to Paste

Method 1: Use the Select Tool

  • Select the document content you want to copy by clicking and dragging over the text with your cursor. 
  • Right-click and select the copy option. 
  • Right-click again in your new file and select from the paste options.


Image Source: PDF Reader Pro

Method 2: Use the OCR Software Tool

  • Select "OCR" from the Edit Menu.
  • Select which pages are relevant for copying and click the "OCR" button.
  • This will allow you to convert words (even on an image) to a plain text editor box.

Image Source: PDF Reader Pro  

Benefits of Copying and Pasting from a PDF File

Copying and pasting from a PDF offers numerous benefits that can significantly enhance your productivity and efficiency. Extracting text and content from a PDF allows you to easily repurpose and use it in other documents or applications, saving time and effort.

The Ability to Extract Text

Instead of manually retyping or reformatting information, you can select and copy the desired text and paste it into your preferred document or application. This feature is especially useful when working with lengthy documents or complex formatting.


Rather than navigating through multiple pages or searching for specific content, you can quickly extract the required information with a few simple clicks. This method eliminates the need to retype data, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring accuracy.

Saving Time

This method eliminates the need to manually transcribe or recreate content, allowing you to quickly transfer information from a PDF to another document or application. This can be particularly helpful when working on deadline-sensitive projects or handling large volumes of data.


Security Restrictions on Copying Content from a PDF

Some PDFs may have security settings that limit or prevent the copying of text or other elements within the document. In this article, we will explore how to handle security restrictions and address any limitations that may arise when copying content from a PDF.

Understanding Security Settings

Various security settings, including password protection, permissions, and encryption can protect PDFs. These settings are designed to prevent unauthorized access and ensure document integrity. When copying content from a PDF, these security settings allow or restrict the copying process.

Limitations on Copying

Sometimes, a PDF may have security settings that restrict copying entirely. This means that users cannot select and copy any content from the document. Other PDFs may allow copying, but only on specific parts or sections of the document. It is important to be aware of these limitations and adjust your approach accordingly.

Overcoming Copying Restrictions

You can try a few workarounds if you encounter a PDF with copying restrictions. First, consider reaching out to the document's creator or administrator to request access or a version of the document without restrictions. Alternatively, you can try using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software to convert the PDF into an editable format, allowing you to copy and paste the desired content.

Limitations on Formatting and Elements

Even if copying is allowed, it is important to note that the output format, when pasting, may not preserve the original formatting, tables, or images. You may be limited to plain text when copying from a PDF, losing any intricate formatting or structures. It is essential to be mindful of these limitations and be prepared to perform additional formatting or adjustments after pasting the content.


Best Practice for Copying and Pasting from a PDF

Copying and pasting content from a PDF can sometimes be more complex than it seems, mainly due to the format's design to maintain document consistency across platforms. However, extracting content becomes a breeze with the right tools and techniques. Here are the best practices to copy and paste from a PDF:

1. Choose the Right PDF Reader: Not all PDF readers are created equal. PDF Reader Pro, Adobe Acrobat Reader and Foxit Reader are popular options offering reliable copy and paste functionalities.

2. Text Selection

    • Basic: In most PDF readers, click and drag to select the text. Once highlighted, right-click and select 'Copy' or use the shortcut (Ctrl+C on Windows, Command+C on Mac).
    • Columns: If the PDF has columns and you want to select text from a single column, try holding the 'Alt' key (on Windows) while selecting. This helps in column-specific selection.

3. Extracting Images: Right-click on the image you want to copy. Depending on the PDF reader, an option like 'Copy Image' or similar might exist. Select it, and then you can paste the image where needed.

4. Dealing with Scanned Documents: If your PDF is a scanned image (meaning you can't select individual text), you'll need Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to convert the image into selectable text. Adobe Acrobat Pro and ABBYY FineReader are powerful tools for this.

5. Formatting Issues: Sometimes, the copied content may not retain its original formatting when pasted into another application. To fix this:

    • Use 'Paste Special' in applications like Microsoft Word to choose the best paste format.
    • Consider using online tools or software that can convert PDFs to other formats (like .docx) which may preserve formatting better.

6. Check for Restrictions: Some PDFs have copying restrictions enabled by the creator. If you legitimately need to access the content, consider reaching out to the author for permission or a non-restricted version. Circumventing restrictions without permission may breach copyright laws.

7. Mind the Copyright: Just because you can copy content doesn't mean you should. Always respect copyright and fair use laws. If you're using the content for reports, projects, or presentations, cite your sources.

8. For Large Amounts of Data: If you're frequently extracting large datasets or multiple pages of content, consider investing in a professional PDF editor. These tools often offer advanced functionalities, making the process more efficient.

9. Ensure Software is Updated: Always keep your PDF reader or editor updated. Developers often release patches that fix bugs, including issues with copying and pasting.

10. Cross-check Information: Always double-check the copied data for accuracy, especially when using OCR or dealing with intricate graphics and charts. OCR, in particular, can occasionally misinterpret characters.


How to Copy and Paste from a PDF: FAQs

Can I copy and paste directly from a PDF document?

Yes, you can copy and paste from most PDF documents. Select the desired text or content, right-click, and choose the "Copy" option. Then, go to the destination application or document and right-click to choose "Paste."

Why is the formatting lost when I copy and paste from a PDF?

PDF viewers or editors may impose restrictions that strip away formatting or structure during copying. If preserving the original formatting is crucial, consider using specialized PDF converters or software that extract and retain formatting.

How do I copy images or tables from a PDF?

Copying images or tables from a PDF may require additional steps. Right-click on the image or table and choose "Save Image As" or "Copy Image" to save or copy it. For tables, you might need to use an online tool or dedicated software that can extract tables from PDFs.

What should I do if the content is incomplete or distorted after copying and pasting?

Incomplete or distorted output can be caused by limitations in the PDF viewer or restrictions set by the document author. In such cases, using specialized PDF converters with optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities can help ensure accurate content extraction.

Can I copy content from a password-protected or encrypted PDF?

If a PDF is password-protected or encrypted, you may not be able to copy its content without the correct password or decryption key. In such cases, contacting the document owner or obtaining the necessary permissions is necessary.

Remember, while copying and pasting from a PDF is generally straightforward, some limitations and challenges may arise. Exploring alternative methods, such as dedicated software or online tools, can help overcome these hurdles and ensure efficient content extraction.

Get Started with PDF Reader Pro Today!