How To Copy Images or Text From a PDF File

Easy Instructions for Copying Images or Text From a PDF File

Adobe Reader 9 Screen Shot
Adobe Reader offers tools to select and copy images and text from PDF files, although they might be hidden under the tools menu. | View Larger. © S. Chastain

How to copy images from a PDF file isn't obvious from the menus and toolbar. The steps below will show you how it's done. The copied image can be pasted into another document or saved to your hard drive.

Difficulty: Easy

Here's How:

  1. Open a PDF file and go to the area you want to copy.
  2. Zoom in on the area to be copied until it's the desired size. Images can only be copied at screen resolution (72-96 ppi).
  1. In recent versions of Acrobat Reader, Acrobat Pro and Acrobat DC, choose the Edit> Take A Snapshot.  Continue with Step 6.
  2. In Acrobat Reader version 5: Click the Graphics Select Tool on the toolbar or use the keyboard shortcut G.
  3. In Acrobat Reader version 4: Click and hold down on the Text Select Tool button. A toolbar flyout will appear with three additional buttons. Choose the Graphic Select Tool from the flyout (third button).
  4. In the document area, drag a selection marquee around area you wish to copy.
  5. In the current versions of Acrobat, when you finish with your selection you will be prompted to save a copy to the Clipboard. In the older versions, right click and choose copy, or go to Edit > Copy, or press Ctrl-C on your keyboard. (Command-C on Macintosh)
  6. The selected area is placed onto the clipboard as a bitmap.
  7. Paste the image into another document, or paste it to an image editor and save it to your hard drive.


    1. To copy text from a PDF document, use the Text Select Tool and the text will remain editable.
    2. If the text you wish to copy is in a column, choose the Column Select Tool. The column select tool maybe be in a submenu of the Text select tool.
    3. You can also copy text with the Graphic Select Tool, however, it will be copied as a bitmap image and will not be editable as text.


      Updated by Tom Green