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How To Copy Text From a PDF

By November 1, 2021April 9th, 2023No Comments

Updated April 2023

Adobe, creators of one of the most popular PDF editors, believes that there are over 2.5 trillion PDFs out there in the world. This is surprising, given how many people have to work with PDFs daily. Still, PDFs aren’t without their frustrations. These documents require their own tools to edit directly and aren’t the most intuitive on how to use for some users.

If you’ve wondered how to copy text from PDF, then you’ve come to the right guide. Let’s take a look at how to make the most out of this common file type, all while keeping headaches to a minimum.

How To Copy Text From a PDF

Learning how to copy text from a PDF is an easy process. Here’s a quick summary of what all of your options are:

  • Highlight the text in the PDF, right-click on this highlighted text, and then select the Copy option.
  • Highlight the text with your mouse, go to the Edit option in the menu at the top of the program, and select the Copy option.
  • Highlight the text and press Crtl and C together on the keyboard.

Which option you use will depend on what you’re most comfortable doing. Some users prefer to rely on Mouse and menu options for everything that they do. Other users, such as programmers, are more proficient with the keyboard and the shortcuts it offers. These more advanced users tend to have these shortcuts memorized to improve their document workflow.

Once you have the text that you want from the document copied, the next step would be to paste it into whichever document you would like. Much like with copy and text, there are multiple ways you can paste the text. Here’s a quick overview of what those options are:

  • Left-click the area you want to paste the text into, right-click, and select the Paste option from the menu.
  • Left-click the area that you want to paste the text, go to the Edit option of the menu at the top of the program, and select the Paste option.
  • Left-click where you want the text to go and press Crtl and V together on the keyboard.

When you copy the text over to another document, there might be some artifacts or formatting that you have to edit to get it to look right. These discrepancies come from the differences in file types, not anything that a user has done wrong.

How to Copy Text From a Secured PDF

Secured PDFs are PDF files that have had restrictions put on them by the creator of the document. Usually, these restrictions are put in for safety or confidentiality purposes. These security options also allow the creator of the document to determine what things another user can do with the document when they receive it.

Most PDF software offers some, if not all, of these security options:

  • Printing: This option changes whether a document can be printed or not by the user.
  • Document Assembly: When this option is disabled, the user can’t change how this document is viewed in a PDF reader.
  • Content Copying: Without this option enabled, a user cannot copy any content out of the PDF, including text.
  • Content Copying for Accessibility: If this is disabled, screen reading software cannot read the document for those with vision disabilities.
  • Page Extraction: When disabled, the PDF cannot be split into two or more files by a PDF editor.
  • Commenting: This security option prevents other users from leaving comments on a PDF.
  • Filling of form fields: Without this option enabled, a user cannot fill in any blank fields on an editable PDF.
  • Signing: Without this option enabled, a user cannot add a signature to a PDF.
  • Creation of Template Pages: This option prevents a user from creating templates from this document to use for other projects.

If you can’t copy text from PDF, it’s most likely because the Content Copying option is disabled. You’ll need the password for the PDF to unlock that feature.

If you don’t have the password, there are ways to bypass that. If you open up the PDF in a web browser, you’ll be able to print a new PDF without the security restrictions.

Open the PDF using a web browser like Google Chrome. Click on the Options symbol in the top right and select the Print option. When you go to select the destination printer, click on the drop-down menu and select the Print to PDF option. Select Print, and this will create a new PDF that does not have any of the security restrictions from the original document.

Other Options to Copy Text From a Secured PDF

While using a web browser to make a new PDF is the easiest way to copy text from a secured PDF, there are other ways to go about doing so. Here are some other options you can explore to retrieve text from a secured PDF:

  • Upload the PDF to Google Drive and convert it to a Word document to remove the security features and copy your text.
  • Use a Snapshot tool that can read the text from the image and convert it to a copyable text format.
  • Use a PDF extraction tool or software to pull the text from the document and convert the text to a copyable format.

All of these options require a different tool than the ones most people have on hand. That’s why using a web browser is the recommended way to copy text from a secured PDF.

How to Copy Text From a PDF to Word

How to copy and paste text from a PDF isn’t much different when using Word than another destination software. The main difference is that you’ll need to know where you’re going to paste the text, including which Word document.

These are the steps that you should follow to copy text from a PDF into Word:

  1. Open the PDF: Open the PDF in a reader or editor of your choice.
  2. Select the text you want to copy: Highlight the text by left-clicking and dragging across the text you want to copy.
  3. Copy the text: Use either the right-click menu, the Copy option from the Edit menu, or a keyboard shortcut to copy the text.
  4. Create or open a Word document: Open the Word document you want to copy the text into or create a new document to place the text into.
  5. Paste the text into Word: Paste the text using the right-click menu, the Paste Option from the Edit menu, or a keyboard shortcut.

You can also copy paste PDF to Word by importing the file into Word itself. Some PDF software will have an option to let you export a file as a Word document. This will convert the entire PDF into a Word document with editable text, all without having to copy and paste anything into Word itself.

How to Edit a PDF

Sometimes, a job that you’re working on requires that you edit a PDF itself rather than copy the text into a different document. However, the tools that are necessary to do that aren’t common for the average user. Here are some of the tools that you can use to directly edit a PDF:

  • PDF editor software: Dedicated PDF editing software, such as Adobe Acrobat, lets you edit the text and pictures inside of a PDF in one environment.
  • Microsoft Word: Microsoft Word has limited PDF editing, but it does allow you to change the text within a PDF.
  • Online PDF editing tools: Plenty of tools exist online that allow you to split, merge, and otherwise change the properties of a PDF.

Many of these tools will require payment or a subscription to access them. There are some free PDF editors out there online, but they all have their own pros and cons. Make sure that you know what to look out for when using these PDF tools online.

PDF Editors

You will need a specific kind of software called a PDF editor. There are plenty of options out there for folks to use, depending on their editing needs. Here are the options out there for you to consider:

Sizle PDF Editor

Sizle has a free PDF editor online for anyone with a Sizle account to use. This tool lets you upload a PDF and use any of 25 different editing tools to adjust the PDF as needed. Once you’re done editing the PDF, you can download the PDF to share with others. Or, you can share the file using Sizle.

The main benefit of using Sizle is that the service has cloud document storage and security function built into it. You’re able to upload as many documents as you like for them to store safely on the cloud and share with others.

There is also a Pro version of Sizle where you can customize document security and get broader access to document analytics. This service is best for small teams or businesses that have a lot of sensitive documents that they need to send back and forth to one another.

Adobe Acrobat PDF Editor

This software is the Adobe PDF editor. As part of their Document Cloud services, Adobe Acrobat is one of the more robust paid PDF editors out there. Adobe lists the following features for its PDF editor:

  • Make changes: You can change the text and graphics inside of the PDF document without changing the file format.
  • Remote access: Adobe has a mobile app that lets you view and edit documents stored in their cloud storage on your mobile device.
  • Wide range of tools: This software features a lot of format automation tools so that your workflow isn’t interrupted by fixing where text and pictures go.
  • Built-in spellchecker: A grammar and spelling check in the software keeps you from having to review the text in a different software service before publishing the PDF.

As a paid service, Adobe Acrobat has a monthly subscription. So, this service is great if you handle a large number of PDFs that need editing but might not make sense for every user. Most users don’t need to directly edit a PDF every day, so paying for this service would be more expensive than some of the other options listed here.

Other Free PDF Editors

If a paid service isn’t something you want to use, then you might be looking for the best free pdf editor. In addition to Sizle, there are plenty of other tools out there that let you edit PDFs. Here’s a list of some of the other services out there that don’t charge for using them:

  • SmallPDF: In addition to the standard tools out there for PDF editing, this application also lets you convert PDFs to other Microsoft Office files, such as .docx and .ppt.
  • CocoDocs: This service has a free PDF editor option that can store and edit up to 50 MB of PDFs for no charge.
  • PDFCandy: This online service has dozens of options you can use to edit, merge, split, or convert PDF files without having to download an application onto your computer.

Most free PDF editors out there have a paid option. These options let you decide if you want to spend a little money to get more features, convenience, or storage capabilities for the online editor tools they provide.

Also, make sure that you stay safe when using online PDF editors for sensitive documents and protect your PDFs. Keep in mind some useful tips when relying on these tools for your PDF editing needs.


The process of using PDF copy and paste isn’t hard, but it can be frustrating if the document is secured. Unsecured PDFs are easy since you can copy and paste text out of them just like any other document file. However, when secured, you either need the right credentials to get into the file, or you have to make a new file from scratch without the security.

Do you need to convert a Word, PPT or other kind of document to PDF?
Use Sizle’s free PDF Converter for fast and free file conversion.

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