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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Copy Paste from PDF Results in Alien Symbols

I do a lot of conversions from PDFs and occasionally I will copy and paste text that results in these alien head symbols in my markup:


Turns out that alien is Mac's hilarious unicode symbol to indicate that the text is protected or unreadable, and cannot be pasted. Here's a close-up:


I was particularly frustrated to see this symbol because I had been copying and pasting from a PDF in Preview yesterday, then resumed my work today and was hit with this symbol.

I re-opened the file in Adobe Acrobat, tried outlining text, saving as rich text, etc, but nothing worked. There are some other good suggestions on this thread: http://superuser.com/questions/137824/pdf-has-garbled-text-when-copy-pasting

However, nothing worked. The file was too large to open in Google Docs, and when I opened it in Chrome and copied and pasted the text, I encountered a whole new set of weird symbols.

This client's PDF is not encrypted or protected in any way. She created it using InDesign and with standard fonts (Minion Pro). After all of the struggle to save the PDF as something else, I knew that the copy paste had worked yesterday, so I simply scrapped the version I had and re-downloaded the original. And it worked. I could copy and paste again without issue.

I wish I had a better answer than that to solve this problem, but it was the classic "turn it on and off again" situation. If you know of a fail-proof solution, PLEASE post below.

Thanks, Amy

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