Last Reviewed:  October 17, 2017

Can't Copy from a PDF

If you're having trouble selecting anything in a PDF to copy it, you're probably working with a scanned document. In a scan, the whole page is just one big picture.

You can still copy/paste, though. There are two methods, depending on what you're trying to do.

Capture an Image

If you literally just want to take a snapshot of a section of the page, use the "Snapshot" tool. Its button looks like a little camera. To use this:

  1. Select the Snapshot tool
  2. Draw a rectangle around the area you want to capture

Now you can right-click anywhere on the PDF and select Paste, or you can even go into a program like Word and paste it there.

But be aware that you're pasting a picture, not actual text.

Capture Actual Text

If you want to paste actual text, you first need to expose the text in the scan. To do this, click the "OCR" button on the main toolbar. OCR stands for "Optical Character Recognition", and it goes through the scan and identifies letters and words, then turns them into text that you can select and copy.

Once you've done OCR, click the "Text Select" tool (right next to the Snapshot tool) and drag across the text you want to copy. Then just type Ctrl+C to copy it. You can then paste that text in a Word document, an email, etc.