How to Copy Unselectable Text on Your Screen

Everyone knows how to copy text — simply highlight the subject with your cursor and do CTRL +C. Simple, Right? But what if you want to copy text from where it’s not allowed? Like a right-click disable website, a write-protected PDF, a Windows error dialog box or the comments from the YouTube’s official Android app.

Copy unselectable text

Related: How to copy paste text from CMD

The usual way to copy unselectable text is by using an OCR reader. Simply take a screenshot of the area containing text and run it through any good OCR software like Google keep. But, this takes time and is definitely not an ideal solution.

So what other options do we have?

Well, thankfully, there are tools to copy any text even if it’s unselectable. So, let’s check out the best method in every platform.

#1 Copy Text from Right-Click Disabled Website (Web)

To disable copying of text, most websites use some sought of JavaScript, so the first thing to try is – disabling JavaScript in your browser. If it’s a banking website, then you can try a plugin like RightToCopy.

But even if this doesn’t work, you can look at source code of that website or try the Google cache version of that site, by appending cache:// in the beginning of its URL. Although, this method only works for blogs that are indexed by Google.

For instance — if the original URL is

example.com/something.html

then final URL will become

cache://example.com/something.html 

And the final resort is to download the web page to your local machine or press, CTRL + P to open the print preview and there you’ll see save as PDF option. Use that.

Also See: How to download images when right click is disabled

cache-of-websites

#2 Copy Unselectable Text from Windows

Say you want to copy text from an error dialogue box. Well, this is more simple than you think it’s, simply click on the dialogue box and do CTRL +C and the entire error message will get copied to your clipboard.

But what if, you want to copy text from other programs like registry editor or control panel etc? Well in such cases, you can use Textify. It’s simple, lightweight app (only 76 KB) and does what it say.

Simply run the Textify.exe, click on any window from which you want to grab text. And then Textify will magically make the system text selectable. (see video demo)

#3 Copy Unselectable Text from Mac

This is relatively difficult in Mac since there is no lightweight app to do it. But if you have XCode installed (a tool to develop apps for Apple ecosystem) then it’s pretty easy to copy text from any Mac app.

Simply open the window from where you want to copy text, and then turn on Accessibility Inspector. You can find it under Developer > Application > Utilities > Accessibility tools.

But again, installing heavy apps like xCode just for extracting text is not feasible. You are better of with OCR readers. And that’s why, I haven’t tested this method personally, so for details check this answer on StackExchange.

#4 Copy Unselectable Text from Android 

Being a YouTuber, I often have to copy comments from YouTube’s Android app or let say you want to copy text from Facebook or Instagram mobile app. Overall most native apps don’t give you options to select text from it.

Well, with apps like Universal Copy, you can copy text from any app, even if there is no option to highlight it. Simply install the app, next go to any app from which you want to copy the text, pull down the notification drawer, and select Activate Universal Copy mode. Now, tap on text, and it’ll be copied to your clipboard.

Universal-copy-on-Android

If you have Android marshmallow then you can also use Google Now on tap to copy text from any app that does not let you copy text from it or even a text from an image.

You can also take a screenshot of that page and use Googlege keep to extract text from the images.

Closing Words

Anything that you can see on the screen — text, images, or video can be easily copied or downloaded to your computer. Either by using an OCR reader or by right software.

To copy paste text without any formatting do CTRL + SHIFT + V instead of CTRL + V.

About Mrinal Saha

Mrinal is a tech geek who spends half of his day reading and writing about tech. While the nights are spent on shooting or editing YouTube videos. Feel free to geek out with him on-