Problems Copying Text from a PDF

The Adobe PDF is a multi-platform document format. Whether you are using a Windows device, an Apple computer, an iPad or Android tablet, the PDF lets you enjoy rich-text documents with images, tables and more in a layout and presentation that the originator intended, however copying from a PDF is not always so straightforward as reading them.

There are numerous methods programs use when creating PDFs, and unfortunately this can lead to difficulties when you come to copying from a PDF. You may for example save your order confirmation as a PDF from within your web browser, or perhaps you have received a tax statement from our payment processor as a PDF.

The PDF file format is created using different layers. Some programs will create complex tables and split text and images into separate lines. Others convert the web page or document into an image file and simply save that to a PDF format. Yet others use complex layering techniques which result in multiple hidden formatting characters that are left in the document once you come to copy the text. One PDF conversion program might for example use a different character to denote a dash as compared with another. The main principle you must remember with a PDF is that it is very likely full with hidden formatting and that although it may look simple, behind the scenes it is not.

You might think that copying the text from a PDF as unformatted text would leave you with a clean character chain - that's something you will want to achieve when copying and pasting your serial number, but we've observed that when text appears appropriately in a simple text tool like Notepad (or an equivalent ASCII text editor), the clipboard can continue to misbehave by holding spurious formatting in memory so that if you copy from what appears to be a clean character chain in Notepad, there are still problems when pasting.

Here are four suggestions for resolving pasting problems when copying from a PDF:

1. Many Windows programs have a "Paste Special" command with the aim of stripping unwanted formatting - be aware, they don't however always work!

2. Locate your order email and copy your serial from there rather than from a PDF.

3. Visit the post sales page and click the "receipt" link towards the top left (you will need to replace the URL with your order number and email address:

  http://store.esellerate.net/a.asp?b=ST12345678_myemailaddress@email.com

4. For relatively short character chains like a SyncBackPro/SE serial (if you haven't got your order email handy and all you have is a PDF), you will need to manually enter the serial - take special care with ambiguous characters like the letter "O" and zeros.

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