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Home / Blog / 4 Effective Methods to Copy Text from PDF on Windows/Mac/Online

4 Effective Methods to Copy Text from PDF on Windows/Mac/Online

By Charlotte | Follow twitter | Updated on August 23, 2023 | Deutsch
Previously, copying text from PDFs and pasting it to a clipboard has been difficult due to the non-editability. Users find it annoying to deal with the misformatted selected PDF text because the original PDF contains complex interactive elements. Thus, it deserves to know how to copy text from PDF. This article seeks to address such a problem for easier editing.

As PDF has become a popular file format in both life and work, we need to copy text from a PDF more frequently like we do in a Word file. However, the seemingly easy PDF copy and paste is complicated sometimes, particularly when we deal with scanned PDFs.

This post will mainly talk about 4 quick methods to copy text from PDFs on Windows using SwifDoo PDF, Mac, and online.

How to Copy Text from PDF on Windows

As a versatile desktop PDF program, SwifDoo PDF is both an eligible PDF editor and converter on Windows 7 to 11. If you need to copy text from a PDF document and paste it anywhere, the app comes in handy to provide you with the best way. It can process any type of PDF. 

SwifDoo PDF

SwifDoo PDF allows you to directly copy text from PDFs that are text-based, convert PDF to Word to copy the text, and OCR recognize image or scanned PDFs for text extraction. For those whose work involves a large number of PDFs every day, a desktop PDF program can greatly improve working efficiency and productivity. This software is no exception for its powerful and rich features.

# Copy PDF Text Directly

Here's how to copy text from PDF:

Step 1: Download and install SwifDoo PDF on your device;

Step 2: Launch the software and import a PDF document;

Step 3: Drag over the text you need, and use the shortcut key Ctrl +C or right-click the selected text and choose Copy.

Copy text from PDF on Windows with SwifDoo PDF directly

This straightforward method is suitable for those who just need to copy text from PDFs with only text or whose content is mostly text. If your PDF contains tables and forms, formatting and layout issues will arise. The text and data will not be arranged in columns and rows but as normal text. So if you copy PDF text this way, you need to readjust the scattered them to proper locations and the process is time-consuming.

That's why we write the next part and it's necessary to learn how to copy text from PDF by saving the PDF as a Word file.

# Copy Text from PDF by Converting PDF to Word

Converting PDF to Word is another preferable option to make a PDF copyable, as this method retains document integrity and keeps as much of the original formatting as possible. By converting rather than copying, users don’t have to be concerned with misformatting and misused fonts. Let’s look at how to copy text from PDF utilizing the SwifDoo PDF converter:

Step 1: Launch the PDF program and click PDF to Word;

Copy text from PDF on Windows with SwifDoo PDF by converting step 1

Step 2: Add your PDF document, specify the output path and choose Start;

Copy text from PDF on Windows with SwifDoo PDF by converting step 3

Step 3: Open the converted Word file and start copying PDF text. 

Converting a PDF document into an editable file is a feasible way to copy text from PDFs, and there is another way to achieve your goal. If your original PDF document is image-based or a scan which made many people a headache when copying the text, you can apply OCR to it. Read on to find out the effective solution.

# How to Copy Text from Image or Scanned PDF

Once your PDF is a scanned copy or image-only PDF, these approaches may fail you. The converted file is neither editable nor copyable, therefore users cannot copy anything useful from this PDF.

To copy text from PDFs that are images are scans, the best workaround is OCR. Learn how to use OCR to get your job done with ease.

Step 1: Open your image or scanned PDF with SwifDoo PDF on a PC;

Step 2: Click Apply OCR in the notification bar;

Copy text from PDF on Windows with SwifDoo PDF OCR step 2

Step 3: Select the document language, set the output options, and click Apply;

Step 4: Wait for the document text recognition;

Copy text from PDF on Windows with SwifDoo PDF OCR step 3

Step 5: When the process finishes, select and copy text from the PDF as needed.

Copy text from PDF on Windows with SwifDoo PDF OCR step 4

# How to Copy Text from a Secured PDF

When you copy text from PDFs that are secured against copying, you definitely will not be able to do that unless you have the right passwords or a PDF password remover. If this PDF is safeguarded by an open password, there is no way around it but to enter the password when copying the text. In case this PDF file is under the protection of a permission password, SwifDoo PDF is the PDF editor you ought to utilize. 

Discover how to copy text from PDF that's protected from copying.

Step 1: Open the secured PDF in SwifDoo PDF, and enter the open password if there is to access it;
Step 2: Click Permission Removal in the notification bar and click Apply in the decryption dialog box;

Copy text from PDF that's secured on Windows step 2
Step 3: The PDF is not secured anymore and you can copy text from the PDF as normal.

How to Copy Text from PDFs on Mac

For Mac users, you don’t need to rely on any additional software to copy text from PDFs. Apple’s built-in word processor and PDF viewer have it all and fulfill your needs for copying and pasting from a PDF to plain text, emails, or other documents.


Preview is a useful app that comes with all the basic PDF annotating and editing features. It allows you to mark up, sign, and combine PDFs as well as separate PDF pages on Mac for free. Take a look at how it helps copy text from PDF.

Step 1: Open your PDF file with Preview;

Step 2: Click Text Selection in the tab Choose Text;

Step 3: Navigate to the text where you need to copy, and left-click the mouse to select the text;

Step 4: Choose Edit to select Copy.

Copy text from PDF on Mac

How to Copy Text from a PDF Online

Your need to copy text from PDFs can be met by browsers and online tools which emerge to deal with common PDF-related needs without the registration and sign-in process. Let's take Google Chrome and Text Extractor to demonstrate how to copy words from PDFs online.

Google Chrome

An Internet browser not only allows you to search for something but can help you view a PDF document. Let’s take Google Chrome for example as it has the biggest share in the market. Here's how to copy text from PDF on Mac:

Step 1: Right-click the PDF file to choose Open with;

Step 2: Select Google Chrome to open the PDF;

Step 3: Navigate to the word or phrase you need to copy and left-click your mouse;

Copy text from PDF online in Google Chrome

Step 4: Click Ctrl + C or right-click the selected text to choose Copy.


ExtractPDF.com lets you copy text from PDFs as a professional online PDF text extractor. It works by exporting your PDF as plain text. This online program can also extract graphs, fonts, and charts within a PDF. What impresses me is this tool requires no registration and payment. Take a look at how to copy text from a PDF using the software.

Step 1: Access the online text extractor in any browser;

Step 2: Upload a PDF file from the local computer or enter the URL of the PDF;

Step 3: Click Start to extract the text within the PDF file;

Step 4: Choose Text to copy the text from the current PDF. 

Copy text from PDF online with ExtractPDF.com

Tips: This powerful text extractor enables you to copy text from PDF with ease and for free, but the biggest disadvantage is its file size limit of 25 MB.

Reasons That Cause Failures in PDF Copying and Pasting

At times, users may face difficulty in copying text from PDF due to the way the document was saved; such as secured or encrypted PDF, or image-only. The following elaborates on methods to deal with these failures.

How to Copy Text from Image-only PDF

First things first, what is scanned PDF or image-only PDF? This type of PDF is often created by scanning physical paper documents or converting camera photos to PDF without the use of OCR technology.

The content is completely locked within an image and has no underlying text layer. Simply put, this document only contains the scanned image and is not searchable and editable. The only solution to copy text from PDFs created by scanners or photos is to perform OCR.

OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition, which is to recognize text by converting images of typed or printed text into machine-encoded text. In this way, you can copy text from scanned PDFs. PDF applications like SwifDoo PDF, Foxit PDF, and Nitro PDF, provide good-quality OCR results.

How to Copy Words from Secured PDF

At times, you may want to copy text from PDFs received from others that are locked. Usually, the sender may have set certain editing permissions before sharing so that the recipients are unable to edit or copy any text from secured PDFs. Many developers have noticed this trend and have provided an “Unlock PDF” feature to remove PDF password protection. Like what's mentioned above, SwifDoo PDF is one of the best PDF password removers that enables you to get rid of permission protection from PDFs without a hassle.

Wrapping Up

Traditionally, we may reckon it is the same easy to copy text from PDFs and paste anywhere you would like as we usually do in MS Office products. The truth is, due to the types of PDFs, how to make a PDF copyable is not that seemingly simple, especially when we work with scanned PDFs and password-protected PDFs. Hope this article has well resolved your problems related to PDF copying and pasting. 


Q:How do I copy text from a picture?

It was almost impossible to copy text from a picture in the past. However, now there is a professional PDF program that can help. Take SwifDoo PDF for example:

Step 1: Download SwifDoo PDF and install;

Step 2: Launch the program and drag the picture to the operation panel;

Step 3: Click Image to PDF under Convert;

Step 4: Once completed, open the new file;

Step 5: Click Recognize Document to make the current document editable.

However, this solution applies to images with less complicated formatting, such as forms. 

Charlotte has been in the software industry for 8+ years. She works for AWZWARE now as a passionate writer. She is good at providing simple guides to use various video, office and entertainment software. Charlotte also recommends many other useful tools to make your work and life easier. A food lover too.

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