How to Copy Text From Encrypted PDFs

by Lori Kaufman Images

If you receive an encrypted PDF, you can open it and view its contents, but you will be unable to copy the text or print the document. If you can't wait until you receive an unencrypted version of the same document, you can extract the text by using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. Remember, contents of the PDF file might be protected by international copyright laws. Copying text for personal use is usually permitted, but you are prohibited from distributing the copyrighted content.

Step 1

Open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Reader, and scroll to the first page or to the page that contains the text you want to copy.

Step 2

Launch Microsoft Office OneNote, and click "File," select "New," click "Computer," type a name for the new [notebook]( in the Notebook Name field and click the "Create Notebook" button to create a notebook.

Step 3

Click "Insert," and click "Screen Clipping" in the Images group. The OneNote window disappears and the last accessed window -- the PDF file in this case -- is displayed.

Step 4

Create a rectangular selection over the text you wish to copy by dragging the mouse pointer over the text. The selection is inserted into the OneNote notebook as an image when you release the mouse button.

Step 5

Right-click the image and choose "Copy Text from Picture" from the context menu to copy the text to the clipboard.

Step 6

Launch Microsoft Word or any other text editor and press "Ctrl-V" to paste the text from the clipboard into the editor.

Scroll to the next page of the PDF, and repeat the process to copy the text from the page. You can copy the text from the entire PDF document in just a few minutes.


  • Information in this article applies to Microsoft Office OneNote 2013 and Microsoft Office Word 2013. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.


  • If you want to paste the text into Word, right-click inside the Word document and click "Keep Source Formatting" in the Paste Options section of the context menu to keep the text formatting. If you click "Keep Text Only," you will paste plain text.


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