Converting imported text from pdf

I spent a couple hours on the forum, searching for this information, and possible solutions, so apologize if I have missed something (some very similar posts, but not really answers).

I am working from a large number of pdf references in my Research, and really need to cut quotes and partial abstracts from the pdfs for a long and complex technical document which I am compiling and revising from often outdated and inconsistent earlier documents. I found others with this need as well. I also found the following statement in the topic describing the Differences between Mac and Windows version:

"Windows cannot convert imported PDF or web files to editable text."

This is exactly what I need to do, and can do so adequately on my Mac. Is there ANY current work-around for this (or did I miss somehting? I have students assisting with this who have access only to Windows 7 computers (or iPads!, still waitng for that app), but we would love to use Scrivener to accomplish this recompilation and updating.

I just downloaded and tested the new update, and was disappointed to find, as before, the letters of the text were copied, but there were no spaces between words, etc.

Thanks for any assistance, or hope for a future improvement in the copy function of the pdf viewer.

I’ve found that one of the Adobe PDF products seems to copy things into the copy buffer pretty well. It even handles copying just one column of text, instead of selecting across multiple columns (which makes a huge mess of the pasted text.

I notice this post is just a bit more than one-year old. I have the same problem as of October 2013.

In Scrivener for Windows, I have imported some PDFs into my Research folder. I seem to be able to select text (it get’s highlighted, albeit in opaque black), but all Copy functions and operations appear disabled(?)

I can of course open the PDF in my Window computer’s external PDF viewer and copy text from there. But that work flow seems a bit counter-intuitive vis-à-vis Scrivener’s “you can access everything from within the Project” design philosophy(?)

So I’m curious what obstacle needs to be overcome simply to enable one to copy text from a PDF contained in a given Scrivener project’s the research folder.

Cheers & thanks,

Came here to ask this exact question. I am sad that I can see Scrivener recognize that there is text in a document but not be able to do anything about it. I really don’t want to convert all my pdfs to .docs as it will ruin formatting and probably cause more problems than it solves.

The conversions and so forth are limited by the PDF tool we’re currently using. We’re looking into other options for the next major update to Scrivener, so that the PDF capabilities of Scrivener can better match what’s available in the Mac version. (Scrivener there has access to Apple’s PDF toolkit, similar to how it uses the native OS X text system; on Windows we need to find alternative tools and get them working in the program or write our own, so it’s a bit of a steeper hill.) As Robert suggested earlier, you can use Documents > Open > Open in External Editor to open any imported PDFs in your default PDF program to work with them there, then just save and close to keep the updated copy in the Scrivener project.

It’s disappointing that such a basic feature of copy & paste from a PDF file within Scrivener is not currently a feature in the Windows version. It ruins the workflow :frowning: . It’s one of the main reasons I want to use Scrivener (Windows).

Is it worth asking if there’s a timeline of when this feature will be made available?


We have made a lot of changes to integrate new PDF tools for the next update and are aiming for a more thorough overhaul for the next major upgrade. The next release will support copying and pasting text from PDFs via the context menu. I don’t know yet when that release will be available officially, but we are anticipating a public beta toward the end of the month, so keep an eye out in that forum if you’d like to give it a try.

Another option (besides switching back and forth between Adobe and Scrivener for copying and pasting, respectively), if you have money to invest in software, is to find something that will convert PDFs to Word documents. I use ABBYY FineReader when I need to do this; it’s expensive, but I use it for much else as well. But I’m sure there are cheaper, perhaps even free, programs to do this. You could then process the PDF(s) first, converting them to Word docs or RTF, and then bring these into Scrivener, where you could work without interruption.

Here’s a free PDF to Word converter: