I have many pdf with 100s of annotations/comments in them, created trought the free Adobe acrobat reader. By reading this official guide, and skimming trough related pages, I see that I can "export" the comments in FDF files or XFDF format.

However, this files can't be opened by themselves without the original, from the first link:

You cannot open and view FDF files or XFDF files on their own.

I would like to export the comments as a text file containing only the text of the comments. That is my request.

  • You can open FDF and XFDF files on their own, of course. BUT they may not make much sense, because the comments depend on the base document to provide the actual context. So, if you are happy without the context, you can extract the text from the FDF/XFDF files (whereas XFDF would be an easier task). – Max Wyss Mar 17 '17 at 7:03
  • @MaxWyss I'm not a programmer, so even hyper basic macro tasks I can't do, and given there is 1000s of notes, I don't really know. This is what a XFDF file opened with notepad++ looks like, only one comment:"font-size:10.5pt;text-align:left;color:#000000;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal" >41</span ></p ></body ></contents-richtext ><popup flags="print,nozoom,norotate" open="no" page="3" rect="514.407776,621.268738,694.407776,763.268738" /></text ></annots ><f href="practica5.pdf" /><ids original="8F84C2D4D7BE87E2214B2CA3907576" modified="794056D3F1054B9727BB9dfdf70BEF8" /></xfdf – Santropedro Mar 18 '17 at 22:48
  • @MaxWyss Thanks! How would you go to extract this things? – Santropedro Mar 18 '17 at 22:49
  • @Santropedro, I came across the same issue. Seems that the FDF/XFDF format do not record the text but pointers to the text in the original PDF file, so maybe the solution would be to use another free PDF viewer. Check this Quora link. – Valentin Apr 19 '18 at 12:24

I hate the way Adobe tries to force you into buying their product by taking away basic functionality like exporting all comments into a text document.

  • Open the fdf file in Notepad++

  • Replace <body[^>]*>(.*?)<\/body> with 22222\133333 (don't forget to set search mode as regular expression and "matches newline")

  • Put 33333 in the beginning of the document

  • Put 22222 in the end of the document

  • Replace 33333(.*?)22222 with an empty string

  • Save file as .html document, open in browser

  • Voila!

33333 and 22222 can be any sequence as long as it does not appear in your comments.


Desi Quintan's FDF extract is a program that does just what you're asking for. Did for me. First Google web site search result for query "pdf to text".

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