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 June 26th

Mon,12:40 PM
Three Ways to Protect your Apple Watch (and One Way Not To)
Fri,7:00 PM
Apple Kills the Thunderbolt Display - Will the Mac Pro Be Next?
6:54 PM
6 Great Display Choices for Your MacBook Pro and Mac Pro
6:25 PM
Apple Drops 2.81% in Broad Brexit Selloff
5:01 PM
G Cloud Unlimited Backup for iPhone and Android: 5-Year Subscription for $29.99
1:46 PM
TMO Daily Observations 2016-06-24: Goodbye Thunderbolt Display, Spinning off the Mac
11:48 AM
Plex Media Server Turns 1.0!
9:05 AM
OS X: Using Policy Banner for Custom Login Screens
Thu,9:01 PM
Apple Discontinues Thunderbolt Display, Directs Customers to Unspecified 3rd Party Displays
8:55 PM
Apple Adds RAW Support for 15 DSLR Cameras from Canon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony
6:20 PM
How to Display Calories or kJ on your iPhone/Apple Watch Health Apps
5:20 PM
Ingrein ‘Smartclock’ Shows Important Notifications to Help You Detach from Your Screen
  • __________
  • Buy Stuff, Support TMO!
  • Podcast: Mac Geek Gab
  • Podcast: Apple Weekly Report
  • TMO on Twitter!