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Export PDF Text with Select, Copy, and Paste

If you need to take text or images from a PDF document and use them in another file, Adobe Acrobat Creative Suite 5 includes tools to make this a breeze. Of course, you should always make certain that you have the permission of the owner of a document before reusing content that isn’t your original work.

You need the Select & Zoom toolbar for extracting text and graphics, so make sure that it’s visible. If it isn’t, choose View→Toolbars→Select & Zoom.

You can export text, images, or charts from Acrobat by copying and pasting, by saving as a specific file type, or by using the Snapshot tool. These methods are discussed in detail in the following sections.

Make sure that the Select & Zoom toolbar is visible (choose View→Toolbars→Select & Zoom) and then follow these steps to select, copy, and paste text from a PDF file:

  1. With the Select tool, highlight the text you want to export.

    The Select tool is the I-bar/black arrow in the toolbar. When you hold the arrow over a section of your document, it turns into an I-bar cursor, which you can drag to select the text you want to copy.

    If the Cut, Copy, and Paste commands are unavailable after you’ve selected some text, the author of the document may have set the security settings to disallow copying. If you can’t select the text, you may be trying to copy text that is part of an image.

  2. Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac) the selected text and choose Copy from the contextual menu.

    Being able to extract the text out of a PDF document by selecting and copying it is useful if you don’t have access to the original source document, but you need to use the text from a PDF file.

  3. Open another text-editing program, such as Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Word.

    You can paste the copied text into a new document or a preexisting file.

  4. Insert your cursor in the document at the appropriate spot and choose File→Paste or Edit→Paste.

    The text is pasted into the document, ready for you to use.

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