Is there a good PDF viewer in the Ubuntu sources that lets me select and copy text? Okular for KDE is a great app, as it has a far greater number of tools than Document Viewer does. I see the repos have Okular, but I would like to avoid installing all the KDE dependencies that come with it. However, all I really need to do is select and copy text from a pdf. What will allow me to do this?

  • Evince (aka Document Viewer) does. What's wrong with using it? – muru Dec 15 '15 at 6:32
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    Whether text is selectable or not depends on the pdf file, not the viewer. If the text is not as an image, all viewers offer selectable text. – Jacob Vlijm Dec 15 '15 at 6:34
  • And so it is, @Jacob. Evince is fine in that regard, muru. It just so happens the first document I tried to select text from in Ubuntu was one of the un-selectable type. – Huaidan Dec 15 '15 at 6:39
  • @DavidH does it have text or images of text? – muru Dec 15 '15 at 6:47
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    @Fabby thanks for the tip. I thought the only way to appreciate was to upvote, a privilege which I am as yet denied. – Huaidan Dec 16 '15 at 7:23

As mentioned in a comment, if text in a pdf document is selectable as text or not, depends on whether the text is in the document as an image or as text. In the latter case, all pdf viewers do support selecting text as far as I know.

No options with text in a pdf image?

You do have a few options however to make the text in a document "readable"

One relatively unknown, but imo very nice option to (also) convert pdf images to text is gimageReader:

enter image description here

It has a nice interface and reads the selected text, displayed next to your pdf document.

to install, use its ppa:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sandromani/gimagereader
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gimagereader


You might need/want to additionally install tesseract ocr tools for specific languages to use:

sudo apt-get install tesseract-ocr

and specific languages, e.g.

sudo apt-get install tesseract-ocr-eng

Specific languages can also easily be selected by using synaptic.


(at least) From 18.04, gImageReader is in the repositories, so no need to add the ppa manually anymore.

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    Now that's very useful toward my original question! Thanks! – Huaidan Dec 16 '15 at 7:20
  • @DavidH glad it helps :) – Jacob Vlijm Dec 16 '15 at 7:27
  • you actually don't need the ppa, at least for 18.04. There you can just do: sudo apt install gimagereader – Vincent Gerris May 10 '18 at 22:28
  • @VincentGerris True! edited it into the answer. Thanks for mentioning. – Jacob Vlijm May 11 '18 at 5:50

Take a look for master PDF editor. It's a great application for all tasks you could do with a PDF file.

Some Features:

  • Edit PDF text, images and pages with full editing features
  • Create new PDF or edit existing ones.
  • Add and/or edit bookmarks in PDF files.
  • Encrypt and/or protect PDF files using 128 bit encryption.
  • Convert XPS files into PDF.
  • Add PDF controls (like buttons, checkboxes, lists, etc.) into your PDFs.

and many more features.source

You can download it from here.

Or you can install it directly:

 sudo apt-get install master-pdf-editor
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  • Thanks, I'll check it out. However, it won't do me much good in this specific case. As Jacob Vlijm pointed out, some PDF's won't allow it. – Huaidan Dec 15 '15 at 7:38

Try PDF Studio. It is the best PDF editing software out there (for Linux). Download and try @ http://www.qoppa.com/pdfstudio/

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