Can’t Copy and Paste from a PDF? Here Are the Reasons and Solutions

Last updated on December 5, 2023

Summary :

Being unable to copy and paste from PDF is very annoying. This can seriously reduce work efficiency. For this problem, we found the reasons and proposed 3 effective solutions.

Table of Contents

Why Can’t I Copy and Paste from PDF

Why Can’t I Copy and Paste from PDF

When you attempt to select and save or copy and paste content from a PDF into another file, you encounter the frustrating issue of the copy button not functioning. This can be quite exasperating and time-consuming.

Hence, you’re eager to search for the reasons behind the inability to copy text from PDF files and seek feasible solutions.

This article delves into a detailed analysis of why you can’t copy and paste text from PDF files, providing you with various methods to choose from.

Why Can’t I Copy and Paste from the PDF

Normally, when you open a PDF file, although you cannot edit the content, copying text is generally feasible. However, there are instances where you may encounter obstacles preventing you from copying and pasting from a PDF. Here are three common reasons:

PDFs with Password Protection

If you want to copy text from a secured PDF, you will need to input the correct password to access and copy its entire content. Without the password, the file remains inaccessible. To overcome this obstacle, you can request the password from the file’s owner.

PDFs with Copy Restrictions

In some cases, you may be able to view the entire content of a PDF but find yourself unable to copy the text due to restrictions imposed by the original author. To proceed with copying, you must obtain the correct password, typically available from the distributor.

Scanned PDFs or Image-only PDFs

Text cannot be copied from scanned PDFs or image-only PDFs as they lack searchable text content. To enable copy and paste functionality, you can convert the scanned PDF to Word, print it to a plain text PDF file, or use an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) tool to extract the text.

Solutions for Not Copying and Pasting from PDFs

The aforementioned are three common reasons for the inability to copy and paste from a PDF. Now that you’re acquainted with these underlying issues, would you like to explore potential solutions? Here are three remedies for you to consider.

Unlock the PDF File

If you do not know the password of the PDF and cannot trace it back to the original author, then you can use some password-cracking tools to unlock the PDF.

Step 1. Go to PDFgear online unlocker > Click Select PDF files > Choose a PDF to upload.

Upload the PDF to PDFgear Unlocker

Upload the PDF to PDFgear Unlocker

Step 2. Wait for seconds and Click the Download button to get a PDF without a password.

Save the PDF without a password

Save the PDF without a password

Note: For difficult and complex passwords, PDFgear may be unable to unlock them smoothly. At this time, you can ask professional password-cracking programs for assistance.

OCR Your PDF File

OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition, a technology designed to recognize text within images. If your PDF file is a scanned copy or comprises purely image-based text, the OCR tool can assist in extracting the textual information.

Step 1. Download PDFgear Desktop > Fire it up > Click Open File > Select a PDF from your device.

Import a PDF File

Import a PDF File

Step 2. Click the OCR button on the ribbon > Box out the area you desired > Tap done in the lower or upper right corner.

Select the Area to OCR

Select the Area to OCR

Step 3. Click Copy text to clipboard in the pop-up to copy and paste the text from the scanned PDF.

Alternatively, you can hit the Save button to save the PDF as a .txt file.

Copy and Paste from Scanned PDF

Copy and Paste from Scanned PDF

Convert PDF to an Editable Word

Word is a versatile document format that facilitates easy editing. Therefore, to copy and paste content from a PDF document, you can open it with Microsoft Word and edit the PDF in Word.

If you aim to convert PDF to Word without losing format, it is recommended to use the PDFgear online converter. This method effectively addresses the challenge of being unable to copy and paste from a PDF.

Convert PDF to Word

Convert PDF to Word

Step 1. Access to PDFgear online converter > Drag and Drop the PDF to the upload box.

Step 2. Click Download to save the Word file converted by PDF and open it in the corresponding application.


For handling multiple PDF files, downloading PDFgear to import and convert them all at once. No limits on file size or quantity.

Convert Multiple PDF Files in Bulk

Convert Multiple PDF Files in Bulk


Why Can You Not Copy and Paste from PDF?

There are three main reasons why you cannot copy and paste from a PDF: the file is locked, copy and paste options are restricted, or the PDF you received is a scanned or image file.

Can I Copy and Paste from a Locked PDF?

Sure. Open the PDF file with PDFgear, enter the password to copy and paste the content of the document, and click “Tools > Remove” to remove the password. If you don’t know the file password, then you can try PDFgear online unlocker to crack the password.

Is It Possible to Enable Copy and Paste in PDF?

As long as you use PDFgear to open your PDF file, you can directly copy and paste, the online tool and offline software both work. Even, PDFgear Desktop also supports you to directly edit your PDF content just like editing a Word document. (Click Edit > Choose Edit Text)

How to Copy and Paste from a Scanned PDF?

A scanned PDF or the image in a PDF always can’t enable us to copy and paste the text from it. But you can do it with PDFgear. Install PDFgear Desktop > Click OCR button > Select the area > Hit done > Choose Copy text to clipboard.


PDF documents are undoubtedly highly secure, but the inability to reproduce their content often adds to our workload and diminishes the efficiency of our tools. However, with the assistance of PDFgear, you can now overcome this limitation. No registration, no login, no subscription required — just free solutions at your disposal.

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