How to Convert PDF Files to Text

By Louise Balle

A PDF file is "portable," meaning you can transmit and view it easily, whether it is sent to you via email or downloaded from a website. The words and images stay in place no matter how you send the file. You may have a situation where you need to convert your PDF file to text so you can work with the words only. For example, if you want to send the contents of the PDF to someone via email without adding an attachment, you need the file in text format. There are two very simple ways to do this.

Copy-and-Paste Method

Step 1

Open the PDF file in Adobe Reader.

Step 2

Click "Tools" on the main menu, then "Select & Zoom." Choose the "Select Tool" (if it is not already automatically selected).

Step 3

Position your cursor in front of the first word of the text in your PDF document. Left-click and hold the mouse, then drag it over the text. Copy the text (CTRL + C) and paste it (CTRL + V) into your Notepad or Wordpad program (these are usually located under the "Accessories" folder on your Start menu). Save the new text file.

Online Method

Step 1

Upload your PDF files to a web server. This can be any server (free or paid) that you own, as long as the PDF can be opened up online with a link.

Step 2

Visit Adobe's online conversion tools site (see Resources).

Step 3

Scroll down to the section labeled "Adobe PDF Conversion by Simple Form." Type in the URL of one of the PDF files you uploaded to your web server. Select "Text" under "Format." Answer the questions asked about your operating system and the reason you are converting.

Step 4

Click "Convert." Allow a few moments for the conversion to complete. When done, the text file will show inside your browser. Copy and paste it to a blank Notepad or Wordpad document and save the file.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can also email the PDF to file will come back to your email box as text. See the Adobe Online Conversion tools link under Resources for more information.