05 dec 2023

How to Copy Text from PDF

PDFs are universally popular and, as far as content sharing goes, the symbol of high quality and consistency. However, when someone says, “No worries, I’ll just send you a PDF,” you might not get exactly what you expect. It might be a crisp, searchable document or a low-res, crooked scan that doesn’t allow you to search or copy. In this post, we’ll show you how to copy text from any PDF, even if you don’t have a computer on hand, and how to extract text from anything by simply pointing your camera at it.  

Types of PDFs and Why They Sometimes Won’t Let You Copy from Them

As we’ve mentioned before, PDFs are a big tent in terms of quality and functionality—they come in different shapes and sizes. Some pose no problem when you need to copy text from them, but some just won’t let you do anything. There are several reasons why this might be depending on the type of PDF. Multiple classifications of PDF files exist, but for text-copying purposes, all you need to know is whether the PDF in question is:

  1. Searchable
  2. Image-only (aka scanned)
  3. Encrypted (aka secured)

For number three, you might need a password to interact with the content, and that’s something the PDF owner can help you with. The first one is no problem at all, as it allows you to search, copy, and even edit the contents. The second type, though, needs to undergo OCR first, and that’s something a PDF scanner app like iScanner can help you with.   

How to Copy Text from PDF with Your Mobile Phone 

  1. Install the iScanner app on your mobile device.
  2. Open the PDF you need to copy text from in the app. 
  3. Tap the Recognize Text button at the top right. 
  4. After the recognition is over, tap Copy at the bottom of the screen. All done! 
how to copy text from PDF

How to Copy and Paste Text from PDF with Your Mobile Phone 

Once the recognition (steps one through three are complete) and you’ve hit Copy, you can paste the text to anywhere you want—an email, messenger, Word document, Google doc, presentation—you name it. To paste the text, simply open the application you need and long-tap on the screen until the Paste icon pops up—tap that, and the text will be pasted. 

how to copy and paste text from PDF

How to Capture Text for Your Document from Anything Using Your Camera

Oftentimes, we need to grab some text for our documents or notes, but we don’t have the source file. Whether it’s a snippet on your computer screen, a captivating ad poster by the café entrance, or a friend’s notes you borrowed for a moment and need to return, copying can be much easier than you realize. 

iScanner has a feature that allows you to skip the scan-OCR dance altogether—Live Text! With it, you can copy small portions of text by simply pointing your camera at them. To do that, open the document you’d like to add the text to in the app. Depending on how large of a portion your text is, you have two options: 

  1. Adding a text box to a page
  2. Copying the text to a new page in your document 

Once you’ve picked the one that better suits your needs, point your camera at the text you want to pull and press the Scan Text button on the left. The text will be instantly copied to your file. You can now edit it, change the font and font size, or move it around the page. 

Summarize, Rewrite, Translate, and Analyze Text in PDFs

If your needs go beyond copy-pasting and you’re copying text to process it further, you might find this shortcut useful. iScanner has a built-in AI chat that you can use to do all sorts of things with text: translate into different languages, proofread, rewrite, summarize, and even reflect upon or critique. What’s more, you don’t have to copy-paste, install any software, or upload your PDF to an online service—all you need to do is: 

  1. Open the PDF in iScanner
  2. Hit the three dots underneath the document preview
  3. Tap Ask AI and ask the bot any question about the text or give it a task to summarize the text, rewrite any parts of it, or find information. 

You can copy the output or share it directly from the chat.