The PDF format is great when you need a document that will work and look exactly as intended to people using different website. However, once in a while you may need to extract some text or other content from a .pdf to use it in another document or a presentation. If you only need a small piece of the file, like a witty quote, you can copy it right away using the Acrobat Reader. If you need most or all of the text, a specialized pdf-to-text converter will be a better fit. I’ll describe both approaches in this article.
Copying Text From PDF
Usually it’s easy enough to copy a piece of text from a .pdf file in Adobe Reader (the instructions below are for version 8.1) :
- Open the PDF file in the viewer.
- In the menu bar, click on Tools — Select & Zoom — Select Tool. Alternatively, right-click anywhere in the document and select the “Select Tool” from the popup menu.
- Highlight the text that you want to copy.
- Press Ctrl-C or select Edit — Copy from the menu to copy the text to the clipboard.
- Insert the copied text (Ctrl-V) into your document or presentation.
There are some exceptions where the above technique doesn’t work — for example, the PDF file might be protected against copying, or the text may actually be stored as an image.
Using a PDF to TXT Converter
If you want to convert the entire PDF to a text file, or process a large number of files (batch processing), using a third party text converter will be much faster and easier than opening each file and extracting the text manually. Luckily you won’t need to buy the expensive Adobe Acrobat software to do this. We will use the freeware A-PDF Text Extractor. Here’s how you can convert a .pdf to .txt using this tool :
- Install and start up the A-PDF Text Extractor.
- Drag the .pdf file to the program’s window.
- Click “Extract Text” and choose where the resulting .txt file should be saved.
The extraction usually takes only a few seconds and the converter will automatically offer you to open the text file after it’s done.