The Mac Observer

Skip navigational links

TMO Quick Tip - PDF: Selective Copy Text from Columns

by , 7:30 AM EDT, August 6th, 2008

Copying text from a document is a no brainer, especially if the document is pretty basic. If the document is a PDF and includes columns, however, it's kind of a pain to copy text without getting lots of extra stuff that you don't really want. Of course, there's a trick that makes it easy to get just what you want, and it's not hard to do.


Dragging copies across columns.

Instead of simply clicking and dragging to select text in a column, Option-click and drag. Your cursor will change from an insert bar into a cross hair to let you know you are in block copy mode, and you can select just the text you want from a single column.


Option-dragging copies from the area you select.

I use this trick any time I need to copy text from a PDF in Preview or Adobe Acrobat, but don't want any of the text from surrounding columns. It's a real time saver since I don't have to delete the words I don't need.


Jeff Gamet is TMO's Morning Editor and Reviews Editor. He lectures, teaches and speaks on Mac OS X and design-related topics, and is the author of The Designer's Guide to Mac OS X from Peachpit Press.

if you have tips or tricks to share, or Mac-related questions you want answered.

Jeff Gamet is TMO's Managing Editor and Reviews Editor. He lectures, teaches and speaks on Mac OS X and design-related topics, and is the author of The Designer's Guide to Mac OS X from Peachpit Press.

Recent Headlines - Updated May 24th

Mon,12:40 PM
Three Ways to Protect your Apple Watch (and One Way Not To)
Tue,1:31 PM
TMO Daily Observations 2016-05-24: New MacBook Pros this Fall, Spotify’s New Pricing
11:41 AM
No New MacBook Pro Until Fall, but it’ll be Really Cool
10:25 AM
Star Wars as an Infographic is Fantastically Awesome
9:15 AM
El Capitan: Adjust Safari’s Reader Settings
8:00 AM
Rob Enderle Calls Apple ‘Desperate’
Mon,8:40 PM
Dubious Study Says Fitbit Sucks at Heart Rate Tracking
6:16 PM
Chance the Rapper Sounds the Changing of the Guard on Apple Music and Streaming
5:27 PM
CyberGhost VPN Premium Plan 3-Year Subscription: $39.99
5:00 PM
4K UHD TV: Samsung and Sony Are Passing on Dolby Vision - Why It Matters
4:43 PM
Apple Music Paves Industry Pricing Path, Spotify Follows
3:45 PM
TMO Background Mode: Interview With AquaMinds Co-founder Scott Love
  • __________
  • Buy Stuff, Support TMO!
  • Podcast: Mac Geek Gab
  • Podcast: Apple Weekly Report
  • TMO on Twitter!