My problem is I am tasked to extract images from a 640-paged PDF file.

Majority of which are charts and tables with texts. Doing a simple copy and paste makes the image lose its resolution and the texts becomes blurry and sometimes unreadable.

Do you know of a better way to extract images from a PDF file without affecting the resolution?

  • 2
    I solved this by installing KDE for windows and then installing okular.. In Okular, one can select the image and save it straight to the file eliminating the process of pasting it on an image editing program which I think somehow preserves the resolution. – r2b2 Sep 28 '10 at 10:48
  • See the Photoshop answer below and follow step 4. – George Langley Mar 1 '16 at 19:02

14 Answers 14


From the XPDF suite (which is Free & Open Source Software) you can use pdfimages.exe CLI tool to extract all images from a PDF, or just all images from a range of pages. Here an example to extract all images from pages 33-36:

pdfimages.exe ^
  -f 33 ^
  -l 36 ^
  -j ^
   c:/path/to/input.pdf ^

The -j will try to extract embedded JPEG images as JPEGs. All other images are output as PPMs (portable pixmaps). Attention, PPMs are totally uncompressed!

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  • Works wonderfully on Mac as well! I used the terminal command ./pdfimages -j PDF_to_be_extracted.pdf /Users/username/output_folder/ – Eptin Sep 4 '17 at 10:51

this is very easy using evince (The document viewer) in Ubuntu. Just open the pdf using evince then unmaximize the window, mark it Always on top then drag and drop the image into the folder you like.

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Extracting the original resolution images is one of the free features of the Solid Framework SDK so if you create your solution in C#, this is it: http://www.soliddocuments.com/features.htm?product=SolidFramework

The sample application that illustrates this feature is also free if you need a GUI batch solution: http://www.pdf-internals.com/download.htm?product=SolidPDFMechanic

(I'm with Solid Documents)

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(1) You can open the file in Word 2013 (just use File - Open), where you can copy the image. Resolution is good enough for printing, but not sure if the same as original.

(2) Freeware viewer SumatraPDF (very good if you use LaTeX) has a menu option "Copy image" when you right-click on the image. I think it preserves the resolution (though I saw files from which I could not copy the images).

(3) Adobe Acrobat X, under File, has Save as Other - Image, and there by default it uses high resolution (in the cases that I tried it was the original resolution).

(4) In Perl, there is more than one way, e.g., read here and especially mentioned there program to extract JPEG images from anything, which worked perfectly for me and definitely extracts the original resolution JPEG images.

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PHOTOSHOP! Open the PDF in Photoshop. (Using Photoshop CC on Windows 7)

  1. Launch Photoshop.
  2. Select File/Open (or Command/Control-O). The "Open" dialogue box will pop up.
  3. Select the PDF and click OK/Enter. The "Import PDF" dialogue box will pop up.
  4. IMPORTANT - under "Select", click the "Images" radio button. All of the images will appear!
  5. Select the image you want and click OK.
  6. Ta-da!
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No - copying and pasting should retain the original resolution of the embedded resource - what is most likely happening is that it is a low resolution picture that was shrunk inside the PDF, so when it is exported, it looks worse than it is.

Try shrinking it and/or making it the same size as in the PDF and it should actually be the same.

Alternatively, (and worst option) go to 100% zoom and take a screenshot or use the snipping tool in Windows Vista / Windows 7.

NOTE - Images in .PDFs are usually shrunk/compressed at the time they are made converted to a .PDF, however, once it is has been compressed, you should be able to extract at the same quality as the PDF, not worse.

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  • This is true especially with tables. Maybe I need to zoom in to the desired resolution , or until the text is readable and grab the snapshot. Another option I have is to open the pdf in Gimp and make the resolution higher – r2b2 Sep 28 '10 at 1:47
  • Not what I see. There is a hi-res image in the PDF, but Acrobat (Pro DC for Windows) re-samples it on-the-fly to whatever magnification you are looking at it - I can go as high as 600% on the current PDF that I am working on before I see any pixelation. But selecting and copying it, at any magnification, only gets a lo-res version of it that only works at 100%. – George Langley Feb 2 '16 at 18:23

Which PDF viewing software are you using?

By using a PDF editing/creation program, like Adobe Acrobat Pro, you should be able to extract the embedded images as they are in the PDF file*. You can get a free trial from the Adobe site (for Windows and Mac), which you can use just for purpose.

* as long as they are not protected, in which case you will have to.. er, I'm not going there...

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  • Its Adobe Acrobat free trial. I'll try this too, thanks! – r2b2 Sep 28 '10 at 1:30
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    @r2b2: Oh, if you were already using Adobe Acrobat Standard, I don't think using the Pro version is going to help. – paradroid Sep 28 '10 at 1:37

You could use Imagemagick to convert all PDF pages to separate image files (although I am not sure how long it will take to do such a big document, or if it will cope!) and then crop out what you want. Might be worth doing a trial run with this as at least you will find out whether the resolution of the embedded images is OK for what you need.

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The best way is to use Adobe Acrobat Pro (2010 or newer versions). Go to File -> Save As -> More Options -> Encapsulated PostScript and then click Save.

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If you have Acrobat pro this is by far the simplest way to take a snapshot of high resolution (set it how high you want). In preferences/general check the box that says 'use fixed resolution for snapshot tool' and set the resolution to your liking e.g., 300ppi or even higher. Then take a snapshot (tools/select & zoom/snapshot tool) and it will copy a high res copy to your clipboard. Then paste it from your clipboard where you want. works great.

To see a more detailed description click this link...

someone's detailed answer with screenshots

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I usually extract images by opening the pdf files in Adobe Illustrator and then copy and pasting them into InDesign. The resolution preserves.

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Adobe Acrobat Pro

File > SaveAs will use the Convert-From-PDF settings under "Edit > Preferences"

[Converting from PDF] will allow [Edit Settings... ] for each file format

The Best will depend upon the source images and resolution that were used to create the PDF.

But you can get pretty good results by Editing the lossless TIFF settings

Set the Resolution to 1200 or more (if Save Fails set it lower) then use the original File > SaveAs to render the PDF file into high resolution individual files

Not the best way, but really much better than rendering as a different document type.

The files will be very big, but more suitable for cut and paste

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On a Mac you can export images or a full page from Preview and get full resolution. You will be asked what resolution you want in a dialog.

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In Adobe InDesign, you can use the 'Place' command to import a PDF file. If you like to import specific pages, enable the Show Import Options checkbox in the dialog that appears after you click the Place command. Drag and resize the frame so that what you need as high-res image fits in the page. You many need to resize the document page size according to the aspect ratio of the image. Once you are satisfied with what you see, use the Export command and select High Quality PDF. This will create a high resolution PDF which you can print or use in Latex docuemnts.

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