General Question

justn's avatar

Copy and paste from PDF in Preview results in gibberish?

Asked by justn (1382points) November 8th, 2009

When I copy and then paste text from a PDF in Preview into Pages, the resulting text is gibberish symbols. The odd thing is it only happens with some text in the PDF and other PDFs do the same thing.

I have a screen recording to demonstrate my problem. View it in full screen to see the text.

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8 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

Most likely it is a font problem.

What happens if you drag the highlighted text to the Desktop? It should make a clipping. If you open that is it OK? And then you can drag that clipping into another document. I’m just curious where exactly things are breaking.

waterskier2007's avatar

or you could try copying and then go to pages>edit>paste and match style. this will avoid font and formatting problems that could result in weird symbols

justn's avatar

@johnpowell The clipping messes up too.

@waterskier2007 I’ve tried paste and match style and it still messes up.

Austinlad's avatar

Have you tried doing a copy-paste special into a word doc rather than copy-paste?

justn's avatar

@Austinlad I don’t have MS Office installed on my MacBook.

davidsanger's avatar

@justn did you ever get an answer to this question. I have the same issue.

justn's avatar

I never really did get a good answer. Here is a thread I started in the Apple forums, there may be something helpful in there for you.

cliffordjames's avatar

Although this workaround is clunky, I have used it when I ran across the same problem; you must have Acrobat Pro, however, as the simple reader won’t have the features I am about to describe (though perhaps there are similar workarounds using other software).

STEP 1: In Acrobat Pro, “Export” the errant file as an image file (I used PNG for mine) via “File > Export > Image > PNG”; one caveat here is that Acrobat will create a unique image file for each page of your original document.

STEP 2: From Acrobat select “File > Open” and be sure to select “All files” from the “Files of type:” dropdown, otherwise you will not see your PNG file. Navigate to whatever image file you need (i.e. whatever page you need to copy/paste from; you’ll have to do these one at a time, or open them all at the same time and “combine” them if you need access to most or all pages) ... and open the file(s) you need.

STEP 3: From your opened “image” file in Acrobat select “Document > OCR Text Recognition > Recognize text using OCR… ” and let Acrobat do the work.

STEP 4: Now you can copy and paste the text, though you might need to do some editing of the result, so check you work carefully.

If anyone knows of a better method, please do share!

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