Is there a PDF reader where I can select unselectable text to copy it?

I use the FireShot plugin/extension for page capturing in PDF. Unfortunately, it generates the PDF as "image", so no way to select and copy text.

So maybe a PDF reader with some built-in OCR feature could help.

  • IIRC, old versions of SumatraPDF reader could do this, but then they blocked the ability of their users to perform this task. To my limited knowledge, it's purely up the author of the PDF reader software whether or not they want to prevent users from copying text from "copy restricted" files. Feb 29, 2016 at 23:36
  • For which operating system?
    – unor
    Feb 29, 2016 at 23:59
  • @RockPaperLizard I use SumatraPDF as my default PDF reader for years... What version do this?
    – Asme Just
    Mar 1, 2016 at 4:50
  • For OSX and Windows, you would go with Acrobat.
    – Max Wyss
    Mar 1, 2016 at 7:57
  • @AsmeJust You would have to go a ways back in the changelog and find when they made that change, assuming I recall correctly. Mar 1, 2016 at 10:28

2 Answers 2


I use and like PDF Xchange Viewer (now Editor, per the website). It includes OCR capability which will convert the image of text to text (for clean text). I find its annotation capabilities much easier and better to use than some of the other PDF programs. Website

The only glitch I have repeatedly had with its OCR is that it converts "fi" to a single letter that combines f and i. Just need to do a search and replace to fix it.

It's a Windows program, with a portable version available.


You can upload a pdf to Google Drive and then open it with Google Docs; from there you will be able to search and copy text.

There is a key setting that should be set correctly before uploading the pdf to Google Drive. Under "general" in your Google Drive settings, check the box next "Convert uploads: Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format."

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