How to Copy Images or Text From a PDF File

Use Adobe's free Acrobat Reader to copy and paste from PDF files

Adobe Acrobat DC PDF

Lifewire / Sue Chastain

Portable Document Format 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 using Acrobat Reader DC on your computer. the copied image can be pasted into another document or image-editing program and then saved. Copy text into a plain-text editor or Microsoft Word document, where it is fully editable.

How to Copy a PDF Image Using Reader DC

Install Adobe Reader DC if you haven't already. Then:

  1. Use the Select tool on the menu bar to select an image within Adobe Reader DC.

    Acrobat Reader with a PDF open.
  2. Select Edit and select Copy or enter the Ctrl + C keyboard shortcut (or Command + C on a Mac) to copy the image.

    A tree image is selected in Adobe Reader.
  3. Paste the image into a document or image editing software on your computer.

    Pasting an image into Microsoft Word.
  4. Save the file with the copied image.

    The image is copied at screen resolution, which is 72 to 96 pixels per inch.

    How to Copy PDF Text Using Reader DC

  5. Select the Select tool on the menu bar and highlight the text you want to copy.

    Text selected in PDF in Acrobat Reader.
  6. Select Edit and select Copy or enter the Ctrl + C keyboard shortcut (or Command + C on a Mac) to copy the text.

    Copying text in Adobe Reader.
  7. Paste the text into a text editor or word processing program. The text remains fully editable.

    Text pasted from a PDF into Microsoft Word.
  8. 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:

  1. 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.

  2. Select the Graphics Select Tool on the toolbar or use the keyboard shortcut G. (Acrobat Reader 5) to copy an image.

  3. Click and hold on 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).

  4. Right-click an image and choose Copy.