Please Try a Different Browser

You are using an outdated browser that is not compatible with our website content. For an optimal viewing experience, please upgrade to Microsoft Edge or view our site on a different browser.

If you choose to continue using this browser, content and functionality will be limited.

light-blue-gradient-background
Blog

Why Can't I Copy Text from a PDF File

PDFs can contain a wide variety of different information because of their inherent versatility. Sometimes you need to take a portion of that information and place it somewhere else, such as a quote within a Word document. However, there can be times when you may find that you cannot copy text from a PDF. What are some barriers that might restrict you from copying out the information you need to access, and what are your next steps?

The PDF Has a Password Restriction

In some cases, you may download or receive a PDF with the knowledge that it contains some data that you need for another purpose. However, when you try to open the file, you may not see the information but a prompt for a password. In these situations, you've received or downloaded a PDF file that has encryption and will not display until you enter that password. There is no way to bypass this requirement.

If you find you cannot open a PDF document because it has a password restriction, you will need to contact the original author or publisher of the file for further information.

The PDF Has Usage-Based Restrictions

In other scenarios, you may be able to open the document with ease, but your PDF viewer will not allow you to execute the copy function at all. What's the problem if you can highlight text, but using "Copy" or keyboard shortcuts never results in the data moving to your clipboard?

You may have received an access-restricted PDF. The original author of the file may not have wanted other users to copy information directly out of the document and thus used a PDF editor to restrict those functions. Again, you should contact the original author where possible if you need many passages from the text.

The PDF is Not Full-Text

Sometimes you may receive a PDF that does not have a text layer but instead comprises a series of scanned text images. You cannot use the clipboard copy functionality to highlight and grab text from images in PDFs. However, with software such as Tungsten Power PDF, it takes only a few steps to transform those image-only PDFs into a document that has fully searchable text. The process works both on Windows and macOS. Here's what to do:

  1. Open the PDF file using Power PDF.
  2. From the Home tab, select "Convert."
  3. Choose "Make PDF searchable."
  4. Set options such as a page range for optical character recognition.
  5. Click OK.

In virtually no time, Power PDF's industry-leading OCR technology scans the images and produces a brand new text layer within the PDF. You can now search, highlight, and edit this PDF as usual.

Related Video: How to Easily Edit Text in a PDF With Tungsten Power PDF

Get Started With Power PDF

Copying data out of a PDF might seem like a basic task, but it's easy to see that it can sometimes be more complicated than that. By having a proven and powerful PDF editor at the ready, you can make quick work of document problems and enjoy convenient access to the information you need. Packed with features and advanced functions while remaining easy to use, Power PDF is a highly cost-effective solution ideal for everyone, especially for business users and entrepreneurs. Try these features firsthand with a free trial for 15-days.

cta banner

Ready to get started?

Work Like Tomorrow—today. Let's chat.