We've all been there – trying to copy and paste a section of text, only to find that it's uncopyable. Whether it's an error message, text inside an image, or content on a website, Windows doesn't always make it easy to extract the text you need.
Luckily, with the right tools and techniques, copying uncopyable text is possible. In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover several methods to copy the text in different situations where the usual copy and paste doesn't work.
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How to Copy Error Messages in Windows
When an error or warning pops up in Windows, you'll notice that you can't highlight or copy the text using the mouse. But there is a handy keyboard shortcut that lets you copy the contents of these alert windows.
Here's what to do when an error message pops up:
- Click the title bar of the message window to select it.
- Press Ctrl+C on your keyboard to copy the text.
- Open a text editor like Notepad and press Ctrl+V to paste the text.
Now you'll have the full contents of the error message copied onto your clipboard. You can share this detailed information to get help troubleshooting the issue.
This trick works for any alert window in Windows, making it easy to grab information from uncopyable dialog boxes.
How to Copy Text From Any App with Textify
The above method only works for Windows pop-ups. To copy unselectable text from other apps, a third-party tool like Textify is your best option.
Textify is a free, open-source tool that runs in the background and lets you copy text from anywhere by highlighting it. Here's how to use it:
- Download and install Textify.
- Customize the keyboard shortcut if needed (the default is Shift+middle mouse button).
- Highlight the uncopyable text and use the Textify shortcut. This will open the text in an editor.
- Copy and paste the text as needed.
- Access Textify's tray menu to quit it when done.
With Textify running, you can now copy any difficult to select text by just highlighting it with your mouse. This makes extracting uncopyable data from apps fast and easy.
Extracting Text from Images with OCR
OCR (optical character recognition) is the technology that allows copying text from images. Windows has built-in OCR tools to take advantage of.
Microsoft's PowerToys is a great option if you want to stick with first-party tools. To use it:
- Install PowerToys from the GitHub repository.
- Launch PowerToys and enable the Text Extractor module.
- Use the default Win+Shift+T shortcut anywhere to select text in an image to extract it.
PowerToys will recognize text in over 100 languages. If you need languages that aren't installed on your PC, just add them in Settings.
For more flexibility, check out Capture2Text. This free OCR tool lets you extract text from images or video frames in your browser as well.
Browser Extensions to Copy Text from Images and Websites
If you spend a lot of time on your web browser, using an extension to copy unselectable text can save you time.
Copyfish is a popular Chrome and Firefox extension that makes copying text from images a breeze. Once installed:
- Activate the extension on a webpage to extract text from images or videos.
- Use the “Desktop Text Capture” to copy text from outside the browser.
Copyfish has customizable OCR settings to handle just about any on-screen text extraction.
Absolute Enable Right Click & Copy
Some websites try to prevent copying text or block the right-click menu. This extension bypasses that by:
- Allowing right-clicking and copying on websites that block it.
- Letting you extract text from images right on the webpage.
Install it in your browser and toggle the functionality as needed per site.
How to Copy Text from Secure PDF Files
PDF files with enabled document security can prevent copying and extracting text. To work around this:
- Print the PDF to a new PDF file using a virtual PDF printer like PDFCreator. This will remove copy protections.
- Use an online PDF unlocker tool to instantly create an unlocked copy of the file.
- Try a PDF editor like PDFelement that can directly copy text from secured files.
Once the restrictions are removed, you'll be able to copy and paste from the PDF file freely.
FAQs About Copying Text on Windows
How can I copy text from an image on my PC?
Use the optical character recognition (OCR) functionality in tools like Microsoft PowerToys or Capture2Text. These will identify text elements in images and extract them to your clipboard.
Why can't I copy text from some websites?
Many websites try to prevent copying text or images by blocking right-click functionality. Browser extensions like Copyfish or Absolute Enable Right Click & Copy can override these restrictions.
What should I do if I can't copy text in a program?
Try using the Textify app which runs in the background and allows you to copy unselectable text from any app just by highlighting it with your mouse.
How do I copy text from a video or GIF?
Pause the video, then use your browser's screenshot tool or the Snipping Tool in Windows to capture the frame. OCR software can then extract the text visible in the still image.
Can I copy text from an error message popup in Windows?
Yes, click the title bar of the popup window and press Ctrl+C to copy the contents of the error message. You can then paste it into a text editor.
Is there an easy way to copy text from an image on a website?
Browser extensions like Copyfish integrate OCR technology that allows you to easily extract text from images while browsing the web.
With the right tools, copying difficult to select or “uncopyable” text in Windows is straightforward. Specialized software like Textify gives you the ability to copy text from anywhere by highlighting. OCR functionality can pull text from images or videos. Browser add-ons help extract text from websites that actively try to prevent copying. With all these approaches, you can copy hard-to-select text easily on Windows.