How to Copy Images or Text From a PDF File

Use Adobe's free Acrobat Reader DC

The Snapshot tool is higlighted and an arrow points to the alert.
Taking a screen shot of an image in a PDF document is a snap.

Portable Document Format (PDF) documents are the standard for cross-platform compatibility. Adobe provides Acrobat Reader DC as a free online download to open, view and comment on PDFs.

Copying images or editable text from a PDF file is simple using Acrobat Reader DC on your computer. The copied image can be pasted into another document or image editing program and then saved. Text can be copied into a plain text editor or Word document, where it is fully editable.

How to Copy a PDF Image Using Reader DC

  1. Open a PDF file in Acrobat Reader DC and go to the area you want to copy.
  2. Use the Select tool on the menu bar to select an image.
  3. Click Edit or the menu bar and select Copy or enter the Ctrl+C keyboard shortcut (or Command+C on a Mac) to copy the image.
  4. Paste the image into a document or image editing software on your computer.
  5. Save the file with the copied image.

Note: The image is copied at screen resolution, which is 72 to 96 ppi.

How to Copy PDF Text Using Reader DC

  1. Open a PDF file in Acrobat Reader DC.
  2. Click on the Select tool on the menu bar and highlight the text you want to copy.
  3. Click Edit or the menu bar and select Copy or enter the Ctrl+C keyboard shortcut (or Command+C on a Mac) to copy the text.
  4. Paste the text into a text editor or word processing program on your computer. The text remains fully editable.
  5. Save the file with the copied text.

Copying in Older Versions of Reader

Acrobat Reader DC is compatible with Windows 7 and later and OS X 10.9 or later.

If you have older versions of these operating systems, download a previous version of Reader. You can copy and paste images and text from these versions as well, although the exact method varies among versions. Try one of these approaches:

  • Choose Edit > Take A Snapshot. The Camera icon, which is the Snapshot tool, appears on the toolbar. You can use it to take a snapshot of an image or text, although the text won't be editable using this method.
  • Click the Graphics Select Tool on the toolbar or use the keyboard shortcut G. (Acrobat Reader 5) to copy an image.
  • Click and hold down the Text Select Tool to open a flyout menu. When you use the Text Select Tool, the copied text remains editable. Select the Graphic Select Tool from the flyout menu to copy an image. (Acrobat Reader 4).
  • Right-click an image and choose Copy.