How to Copy Unselectable Text on Your Screen.
Everyone knows how to copy text – just select an item with the cursor and press CTRL + C. Simple, right? But what if you want to copy text from where it is prohibited? For example, right-click website shutdown, write-protected PDF, Windows error dialog, or comments from the official YouTube Android app.
The usual way to copy non-selectable text is to use the OCR reader . Just take a screenshot of the area containing the text and run it with any good OCR software that Google saves. But this takes time and is definitely not the ideal solution.
So what other options do we have?
Well, luckily there are tools to copy any text, even if it cannot be selected. So let’s take a look at the best method for each platform.
# 1 Copy text from right-click on a broken website (web)
But even if that doesn’t work, you can look at the source of this website or try the Google cache version of this site by adding cache: // at the beginning of its URL. Although this method only works for blogs indexed by Google.
For example, if the original url is
then the final url becomes
And the last resort is to download the web page to your local computer, or press CTRL + P to open the print preview, and there you will see the “Save as PDF” option. Use this.
# 2 Copy unselectable text from Windows
Let’s say you want to copy text from an error dialog. Well, this is easier than you think, just click on the dialog box and press CTRL + C and the entire error message will be copied to the clipboard.
But what if you want to copy text from other programs like Registry Editor, Control Panel, etc.? In such cases, you can use Textify. It’s a simple and lightweight app (only 76KB) that does what it says.
Just run Textify.exe, click any window you want to get the text from. And then Textify will magically make the system text selectable. (see demo video)
# 3 Copy unselectable text from Mac
On a Mac, this is relatively difficult as there is no lightweight app for it. But if you have Xcode (an app development tool for the Apple ecosystem) installed, it is fairly easy to copy text from any Mac application.
Just open the window from which you want to copy the text, and then turn on the accessibility inspector. You can find it under Developer Application Utilities Accessibility Tools.
But then again, installing heavy applications like Xcode just to extract text is not possible. You’re better off with OCR readers. This is why I have not personally tested this method, so see this StackExchange answer for details.
# 4 Copy unselectable text from Android
Since I’m YouTube, I often have to copy comments from the YouTube Android app, or let’s say you want to copy text from the Facebook or Instagram mobile app. In general, most native apps do not allow you to select text from them.
Well, with apps like Universal Copy, you can copy text from any app, even if you can’t select it. Just install the app, then go to any app you want to copy text from, open the notification panel and select Activate Universal Copy mode. Now click on the text and it will be copied to the clipboard.
If you have Android Marshmallow, you can also use Google Now on tap to copy text from any app that prevents you from copying text from it, or even text from an image.
You can also take a screenshot of this page and use Google Keep to extract text from images.
Anything you see on the screen – text, images or video – can be easily copied or downloaded to your computer. Either with an OCR reader or with suitable software.
To copy pasted text without formatting, use CTRL + SHIFT + V instead of CTRL + V.