I currently use Foxit's PDF reader, and I recently downloaded an image from the Internet, but it is inside a PDF file. How do I extract this image?

Operating system is Windows 7.

  • 1
    your highest quality extraction will be to extract to whatever format the image is already stored in within the pdf. (at least i think that's how images-in-pdfs work.) Apr 26, 2010 at 17:06
  • I note not a single answer exists where you use an "easy" copy paste to retain a transparent background. All answers so far that functions are batch or command based.
    – CapnZapp
    Dec 26, 2019 at 13:59

12 Answers 12


The quick way if you don't require original pixel resolution of the image is to just press ALT and Print Screen buttons. Then choose paste where ever you want the image.

The other way to preserve the resolution is to open the PDF in an image editing program such as Adobe Photoshop and work with it there.

  • 1
    Opening a PDF document in Photoshop causes the 'Rasterize Generic PDF Format' dialog to appear, so the resolution cannot be preserved. Tested with PS7. Are newer versions of Photoshop different?
    – AffineMesh
    Apr 27, 2010 at 6:55
  • 1
    as you said, [alt]+[prnscr] does not preserve the original pixel resolution (it uses whatever resolution your current screen/monitor uses). Jul 29, 2010 at 15:18
  • 1
    @studiohack, @UserSuUserDo: Not only will you miss the original resolution if you use [alt]+[prnscr], but you'll get the complete PDF viewer window as a picture. This may be 'good enough' for many use cases. But sometimes you want the graphic as is embedded in the PDF page only. Here pdfimages.exe comes in handy. Jul 29, 2010 at 15:21
  • 1
    Or use the snipping tool built into W7 to capture the area you want.
    – Moab
    Jul 29, 2010 at 15:22

If you download XPDF for Windows (here), you'll find a few .exe files inside. You can run them without "installation". Use pdfimages.exe like this:

pdfimages.exe -help

This displays the help screen.

pdfimages.exe ^
    -j ^
    c:\path\to\your.pdf ^

This extracts all JPEGs as prefix-00N.jpg, and all the other images as prefix-00N.ppm (Portable PixMap).

[Edit by ComFreek: Please note the trailing slash in the destination path, which is important if you do not want to extract all images into its parent directory.] --
{Edit by KurtPfeifle: I do not agree with ComFreek's comment, but leave it to the readers to test and find out the differences in results themselves. My original parameter, not using a trailing slash, as ..\prefix will prefix the image names used for the extracted files.}

pdfimages.exe ^
    -j ^
    -f 11 ^
    -l 13 ^
    c:\path\to\your.pdf ^

Same as before, but limits image extraction to pages 11 ('f' = first) to 13 ('l' = last).


In the meanwhile I prefer Poppler's version of pdfimages -- especially since it acquired this new feature: add -list to the commandline in order to just list (not extract) images contained in the PDF, plus some of their properties. Example:

pdfimages -list -f 7 -l 8  ct-magazin-14-2012.pdf

  page   num  type   width height color comp bpc  enc interp  object ID
     7     0 image     581   838  rgb     3   8  jpeg   no        39  0
     7     1 image       4     4  rgb     3   8  image  no        40  0
     7     2 image     314   332  rgb     3   8  jpx    no        44  0
     7     3 image     358   430  rgb     3   8  jpx    no        45  0
     7     4 image       4     4  rgb     3   8  image  no        46  0
     7     5 image       4     4  rgb     3   8  image  no        47  0
     7     6 image       4     6  rgb     3   8  image  no        48  0
     7     7 image     596   462  rgb     3   8  jpx    no        49  0
     7     8 image       4     6  rgb     3   8  image  no        50  0
     7     9 image       4     4  rgb     3   8  image  no        51  0
     7    10 image       8    10  rgb     3   8  image  no        41  0
     7    11 image       6     6  rgb     3   8  image  no        42  0
     7    12 image     113    27  rgb     3   8  jpx    no        43  0
     8    13 image     582   839  gray    1   8  jpeg   no      2080  0
     8    14 image     344   364  gray    1   8  jpx    no      2079  0

Note again: this version of pdfimages is the one from Poppler (the one from XPDF does not (yet?) support this new feature), and the version must be v0.20.2 or newer.

  • 1
    @harlev: Google for ImageMagick. It has a commandline tool that can convert anything to anything called convert. Available for Linux, Windows, MacOS X and what have you. Easiest use case for you: convert some.ppm some.jpeg. Jun 24, 2011 at 0:15
  • 4
    Note: XPDF isn't as actively maintained as the poppler library which forked from it some time ago. Poppler provides pdfimages as well, and some people might prefer using that.
    – MvG
    Jan 29, 2013 at 12:54
  • 2
    @BurhanKhalid: Pre-built binaries are here: sourceforge.net/projects/poppler-win32 May 16, 2014 at 23:46
  • 2
    @KurtPfeifle Unfortunately those do not contain any exe files at all.
    – Chris
    Jul 16, 2014 at 13:52
  • 4
    I know this is old but just wanted to share if anyone is looking for windows binaries you may get it here blog.alivate.com.au/poppler-windows Feb 11, 2017 at 14:14

You can try importing the PDF into Inkscape, and work from there. Inkscape will only open one page at time, but will give you complete control over the page contents. You will be able to extract and manipulate vector graphics from the PDF quite easily.

However, if you want to extract raster images from the PDF, I'm pretty sure pdfimages from XPDF is easier (but you can still try using Inkscape after learning how to extract embedded images from SVG files).

  • GIMP (gimp.org) is another graphic design tool that can import and manipulate PDFs. Not sure however how GIMPs capabilities contrast with those in Inkscape.
    – user400915
    Nov 11, 2015 at 16:09
  • @coderworks: GIMP will rasterize the imported PDF page into a given resolution. In other words, it is slightly better than using "Print Screen". Inkscape, on the other hand, will preserve the original vector data as well as the original raster images. Nov 11, 2015 at 22:50
  • This worked great.
    – SingleShot
    Mar 21, 2021 at 17:11

Without installing any software, you can switch to PDF-XChange Viewer (select Portable Version) which has this ability already build-in

  • exports all or selected pages as image
  • output format: PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP
  • choose DPI, compression level, gray-scale
  • can save multiple pages as multi-page TIFF

    enter image description here

    enter image description here
    click to enlarge

Please be aware while this method converts whole PDF pages into images, the method explained from @Laurenz using Sumatra PDF is superior if you want to extract images from a PDF page with mixed content (image + text) to only get the image.

  • 2
    @MarkSeemann I cannot follow. "Without installing any software" means in this context that there is a portable version available. Portable software could not be "installed" per definition. You just download, extract and start it.
    – nixda
    Nov 1, 2015 at 11:41
  • 3
    The fact that you need to "Chose the DPI" defeats the purpose. You are resizing raster images (array of pixels), and any resize of a raster image results in a loss of quality and information.
    – anthony
    Oct 26, 2016 at 23:54
  • convert PPM files to png or jpeg ?
    – Kiquenet
    Jan 2, 2019 at 12:30

MuPDF is a new (created in 2006) multiplatform (desktop and mobile) PDF viewer released under AGPL license. It is maintained by the same people of Ghostscript.

It contains a command-line tool to extract images from a PDF:

mutool extract [options] file.pdf [object numbers]

The extract command can be used to extract images and font files from a PDF. If no object numbers are given on the command line, all images and fonts will be extracted.

-p password
       Use the specified password if the file is encrypted.

-r     Convert images to RGB when extracting them.

Sumatra PDF is a fast and lightweight open source PDF reader that can copy images directly to clipboard, without any re-rasterization.

  • Tried this. Background becomes black, not transparent.
    – CapnZapp
    Dec 26, 2019 at 14:00

use pdftocairo from poppler toolkit. It can extract and convert images of pdf to any desired format. It always generate images and never generate ppm or some craps like that. Following command covert the pdf pages to jpg images of it:

pdftocairo.exe -jpeg "my.pdf" "my"

You can get it from here for windows: http://blog.alivate.com.au/poppler-windows/

It's available on Linux too.

  • 2
    This command does NOT EXTRACT images embedded in a PDF (as the OP asked). Instead it CONVERTS complete PDF pages to image formats. This answer does not fit the question asked. Dec 13, 2018 at 10:21

http://www.sumnotes.net/ is an online tool to extract notes, highlights, and images. I used it extensively at university for my thesis and I was really satisfied.

  • Commercial with limited free trial. It is also Online, meaning privacy can not be guaranteed!
    – anthony
    Oct 27, 2016 at 0:15

Some recent comparative observations based on common suggestions.

A large number of images embedded in a PDF are manipulated on insert or extract. Except for DCT compressed images (which are normally JPEGs) so we can expect for JPEG images 1:1 import and export, complete with their metadata. PNG images etc will be converted on import to different forms of bitmap and may use a less efficient PDF zlib (ZIP) compression.

I know from MetaData in this PDF this image is

860 x 144  Pixels JPEG, progressive, quality: 90, subsampling ON (2x2)as 7496colors in 14,598 bytes

enter image description here

I support SumatraPDF so know that it could faithfully "Copy Image" the JPEG with all of the above, HOWEVER on copy and paste into MS Paint or any graphics app, the image can be changed by their "Save As"

Hence the 14,598 bytes will, badly (via clipboard) become an uncontrolled format.

  • From MS paint becomes 21,012 bytes (Higher incorrect 95% Quality with 7173 = less colors)
  • From Graphics app perhaps less 17,423 bytes (JPEG, non progressive, quality: 90, subsampling OFF and 7538 colors)

Thus copy via clipboard is not the answer.

I Like to power that PDF-Xchange has and it can export single images (with different choices) so we want "export image" as JPEG

  • Method 1 JPEG, progressive, quality: 70, subsampling OFF, colors=8178 size=8,616 bytes
  • Method 2 JPEG, progressive, quality: 70, subsampling OFF, colors=7840 size=8,303 Bytes

So Export as Image is not the answer if the export is not the true image.

Try XPDF newer versions like latest 2024 = 4.05 it has -list

Xpdf\4.05\bin32>pdfimages -list OoPdfFormExample.pdf -

--0000.ppm: page=1 width=860 height=144 hdpi=128.49 vdpi=128.48 colorspace=DeviceRGB bpc=8 size=371,535 bytes

That does not tell me the image internally is a JPEG (but I might guess?) try again

Xpdf\4.05\bin32>pdfimages -j OoPdfFormExample.pdf -

No hint it worked but the folder has
--0000.jpg 14,598 bytes and as such it is identical to the source image.

In Summary for an embeded JPEG

On 32 bit Windows, XPDF PDFimages was/is still the best/easiest (there is also a PDFtoPNG and 3rd party PDFtoTIFF) On 64 bit Windows, Poppler PDFimages (Currently 2023-11) is 1 of the best from https://github.com/oschwartz10612/poppler-windows/releases/

Alternatively on 64bit Windows, MuPDF Mutool can in a case like this, have more info/options.

mutool info -I OoPdfFormExample.pdf

Images (1):
        1       (1 0 R):        [ DCT ] 860x144 8bpc DevRGB (4 0 R)

For me that DCT signals the image is object 4 as embeded JPEG, so I run

mupdf\1.20.0>mutool extract -r OoPdfFormExample.pdf 4
extracting image-0004.jpg

And the image is the same as from PDFimages, thus a true extraction.

  • Info about other answers shouldn't be a separate answer. It should be much shorter than what you're doing here, for example "Copying to clipboard copies the bitmap without information about compression" and "PDF-Xchange re-encodes the image instead of using the original JPEG data", and commented under the respective answer.
    – root
    Feb 19 at 0:42

I created a powershell script to command Poppler to convert all PDF files in the folder and subfolders to JPEG pictures:

$pdf2jpg = "C:\Prog2\poppler-0.68.0_x86\poppler-0.68.0\bin\pdftocairo.exe"
$input = "I:\Book\"
$output = "F:\Book2jpeg\"

new-item $output -itemtype directory

Get-Childitem -path $input -filter *.pdf -recurse | foreach {         
    & $pdf2jpg -jpeg $_.Fullname $output\$_

With Affinity Publisher 1.9+ you can open the pdf, and then go to DocumentSection Manager. Inside it, you select the image (or even all the embedded images with Ctrl a or a similar method, which is quite useful) and you click Collect.... It will ask for a folder, and after that you will find (all) the selected picture(s) inside it.


normally I extract the embedded image with 'pdfimages' at the native resolution, then use ImageMagick's convert to the needed format:

$ pdfimages -list fileName.pdf
$ pdfimages fileName.pdf fileName   # save in .ppm format
$ convert fileName-000.ppm fileName-000.png

this generate the best and smallest result file.

Note: For lossy JPG embedded images, you had to use -j:

$ pdfimages -j fileName.pdf fileName   # save in .jpg format

UPDATE: On recent "poppler-util" (0.50+, 2016), pdfimages has an option "-all" to extract lossless compressed bitmap as .png and lossy compressed bitmap as .jpg, so a simple:

$ pdfimages -all fileName.pdf fileName

extract always the best possible quality content from PDF.

On little provided Win platform you had to download a recent (0.68, 2018) 'poppler-util' binary from:

  • 1
    Was previously in Kurt Pfeifle's answer. Sep 13, 2017 at 21:30

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