How to Get Text from PDF on iPhone and iPad with iOS 15

Apple has announced a bunch of changes coming to iPhones via the iOS 15 update with improvements to FaceTime, Safari, Find MyPhotosSpotlight, Notifications, and Weather. One feature everyone’s excited about is ‘Live Text‘ – an option that recognizes texts, handwritten notes, numbers, and more from Photos or through the Camera app and lets you paste that information on any other app. 

However, if you’re dealing with PDFs and want to extract text from them, how would you be doing it? That’s what we’re going to explain in this post. 

Method #01: Drag through texts on PDF

The easiest way to extract texts from PDF is to just copy it as you would on any other app with text. To do this, open the PDF file you want to extract text from, then tap and hold anywhere on the PDF and start dragging through the text portion you want to copy.

Once all of the text is selected, you should see a bunch of options at the top. You can copy the selected text by tapping on the ‘Copy’ option above your selection.

The text will now be copied onto your clipboard and you can paste them on Notes, Messages, or any other app you use to save the copied text.

If you’re on iOS 15, you can take advantage of the new drag and drop functionality. Once you have selected the text you want to copy, tap and hold on the selected area and drag it around. Do not lift up the finger that you’re dragging the text with. 

Now using your other hand/fingers, go to the Home Screen or Recent Apps to open the app you want to paste it to. Inside the app, choose a location to paste the copied text to and drop the dragged item by lifting up your finger. 

This will make your job much easier if you deal with a bunch of PDFs or text files regularly. 

Related: How to Set ‘Leave at’ and ‘Arrive by’ Times when Driving in Apple Maps on iPhone and iPad

Method #2: Drag and copy to a new .TXT file

iOS 15 doesn’t just let you drag and drop stuff between different apps, you can also move certain elements from within the same app. One application of this is using the drag and drop functionality to drag texts directly from a PDF file that’s open on the Files app and drop the selected text on some other location inside the Files app. When you use this method, iOS doesn’t copy the text onto your clipboard but creates a new file inside Files. 

To get started, open the PDF file you want to extract text from, then tap and hold anywhere on the PDF and start dragging through the text portion you want to copy. 

Once all of the text is selected, tap and hold on the selected and start dragging it around. Do not lift up the finger that you’re dragging the text with. Now using your other hand/fingers, tap on the ‘Done’ button at the top left corner of the screen. 

When you do, the PDF will now close and you will see the folder where the PDF file was located within the Files app. Now, go to the location you want the text file to be created. When you arrive at the location you want the dragged text to appear, drop the dragged item by lifting up your finger. 

You will now see a new text file appear inside the folder. This file will have all the contents you copied from the PDF file and will be saved in “.TXT” format. 

Method #03: Use ‘Get Text from PDF’ Shortcut 

If you wish to copy the entire text portion from a PDF file, you may find it tiring to open a file and then drag through all the texts inside it, especially if the document is several pages long. In these situations, you can use the Shortcuts app on iOS to save all text from a PDF document in just a few taps. We’re using the ‘Get Text from PDF’ action inside the Shortcuts app to get this done. Follow the steps below to set up the shortcut on your iPhone and use it for a PDF file you want to extract text from. 

To get started, open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone.

When the app is open, tap on the ‘+’ icon at the top right corner. 

This should create a new Shortcut. On this screen, select the ‘Add Action’ option at the top. 

A popup should appear with a bunch of options available. At the top of this popup, tap on the search field and enter “PDF”. In the search results, tap on the ‘Get Text from PDF’ option under ‘Documents’. 

You will be taken back to the Shortcut creation screen. Here, enter a name for the shortcut at the top. 

Your shortcut is now ready. You can start using it by tapping on the ‘Document’ section inside the ‘Get Text from PDF’ action box. 

You will now be prompted with a dialog. In this dialog, select ‘Choose’. 

On the next screen, locate and select the PDF document you want to extract text from. 

Once the selected PDF file has been opened inside your Shortcut, tap the Play icon at the bottom right corner. 

You should now be able to see a preview text from the PDF document you selected. You can enlarge this preview by tapping the Expand icon (two arrows facing opposite sides) at the bottom right corner of this preview. 

The next screen will show all the text that has been extracted from the PDF file. You can copy this text by tapping the Share icon at the top right corner. 

When the Share Sheet appears, select the ‘Copy’ option to copy the text into your clipboard.

You can also save the copied text on your device in Text Document format by tapping the ‘Save to Files’ option or share it across other apps on your iPhone.

You don’t have to repeat all these steps for extracting texts from another PDF, you simply have to tap on the file name inside the ‘Get Text from PDF’ action and select a new file to extract text from. 

That’s all you need to know about extracting texts from PDFs on iOS. 

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Ajaay

Ambivalent, unprecedented, and on the run from everyone's idea of reality. A consonance of love for filter coffee, cold weather, Arsenal, AC/DC, and Sinatra.

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