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How to get automator to extract text from pdf file?

982 Views 2 Replies Latest reply: Mar 3, 2013 5:57 PM by Steppes RSS
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Mar 3, 2013 10:27 AM

I thought I'd use automator to create a workflow that would extract text from a pdf and place it into a text file so that I could import the extracted text into Numbers but what I have done is not working so I am wondering if anyone can see where my problem is if I have done something wrong and suggest a fix?


Here's what I've got in my automator workflow:


Ask for Finder items

Prompt = Choose a Finder Item

Start At = Desktop

Type = Files  (Allow Multiple Select is unchecked)


Extract PDF Text

Output = Plain Text  (but I have also tried Rich Text)

Add Page Header = Unchecked

Add Page Footer = Unchecked

Save Output to: = Desktop

Output File Name = Same as Input Name (Replace Existing Files is checked)


So here is what I do when I run this:


I am prompted to select a file from Desktop.


I select my file (a pdf that contains a table) -- I want the text from that table without having to type it myself


Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 12.16.56 PM.png



The process runs and, the log results when I run this are:


Ask for Finder Items completed (with green check mark)

Extract PDF Text completed (with green check mark)

Workflow completed (with green check mark)


What I actually get:


I get a txt file of the correct name sitting on my desktop that has no text in it.




  1. Why doesn't this work?
  2. Is there a better way to do this?
Pages '09, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2)
  • HD Level 4 Level 4 (3,240 points)

    Hi and welcome to Apple Support Communities


    I can't see anything wrong with your workflow, it works ok for me. I think your problem may be that the pdf does not contain extractable text -  it may have been rendered as a graphic. Without a copy of the pdf I can't check that, but have you tried opening the pdf and copying and pasting the text?


    Also, have you tried the workflow with other pdfs?


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