I have a pdf that I can't copy text from.
I have tried several pdf readers: Foxit, Sumatra, PDF-XChange, mupdf
NONE of them allows me to simply copy the text!
What could cause this?
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Some PDFs are protected so you can't copy the text. This link shows how to do it in Acrobat.
Another possibility is that your "text" file is actually an image, i.e. it is created from a scan or a screendump. In that case it is still readable, but there is no text in it. If this is the case, a single click on the "text" in Acrobat will shade the whole text in a blue box.
This answer has the solution:
The print permission is in the pdf file itself and is mostly used by Adobe products. Some products pay it attention, and some others print it anyway. It is quite easy to remove.
See the article [How To Unlock Adobe PDF Files], where it explains how to use [Freeware PDF Unlocker] to remove this and other passwords.
Warning : Comment by Chris Betti says
As of Oct 7, 2013, the Freeware PDF Unlocker setup installs unwanted software without confirmation, and fails to install the product itself.
Use older versions (if can be found) or search for another product.
These are protected or restricted document.You can't copy text from it.
You can remove it online
You can copy text with Foxit, are you sure that the PDF wansn't made from an image?
Yes, you can copy text, I am not allowed to post images but believe me, I've just downloaded and installed FoxitReader 5.3.1.0606, I saved a PPT presentation as PDF, opened it in Foxit, selected text and copied it