I am producing PDF reports with PDF images included using \includegraphics. I would like clients to be able to select and copy the resulting images from within Adobe Reader or whatever, but this doesn't seem to be possible (although it is possible with PNG images).

  • 2
    I suspect this has something to do with the images being vector- or rasterimages. I can select included "raster"-pdfs but not vector-pdf. My guess is that vector graphic copying into the clipboard is not supported. – Psirus Jan 11 '12 at 11:57
  • Isn't there always the possibility to take a snapshot within the Adobe Reader. This way you can extract vector graphics too. Of course, this method comes with the disadvantage of loosing the "vector" information. But if you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat you could also cut out the pdf page containing the image you want to extract and trim it to the picture's size. This way you retain the vector graphic's scalability. – Philipp Jan 11 '12 at 13:14
  • 2
    I don't think you can do much about that. I had a similar idea with Attach displayed image to the PDF without storing it twice, but the answers there aren't really satisfactory. – Martin Scharrer Jan 11 '12 at 13:15

I don't think it is possible to copy and paste vector images from a PDF file, but you can attach the original PDF with the graphics using the attachfile2 package from the oberdiek bundle. Your users can then save those files and use them directly. See the attachfile2 documentation as well as the original attachfile package documentation for more information.


Technically, this is PDF-viewer–specific. In practice, however, it seems to be OS-specific: On MacOS, all PDF viewers (Preview, Skim, ...) but Acrobat put snapshots as vector images into the clipboard (and from there it is easy to export them into stand-alone PDF files).

The reason is probably that PDF is the native clipboard format for vector graphics on MacOS (opposed to WMF/EMF on Windows), so the GUI toolkit of the OS supports this out of the box.

Generally, something like this should be possible for Adobe as well. However, I always have had the impression that Adobe intentionally does not support a feature like that – given that even their bitmap snapshots feature only a ridiculously bad resolution. (My workaround for this problem – back in my Windows days – was to use a 24" screen, zoom the figure of interest in Adobe Reader so that it takes the full screen, and then copy the whole screen. Still a bitmap, but at least the resolution was a lot better.)

In fact, the flexible PDF handling was a major reason to switch to MacOS (even though there are a lot of things I really do not like about this system).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.