Extracting images of charts or tables from PDFs using Adobe Reader

PDF Version

Extracting images of tables and charts from PDFs (for presentations, posters, etc.) is relatively easy with Adobe Reader (similar functionality may exist in other software that reads PDFs).

A menu item called the “Snapshot” tool is available to do this. To access this tool, open any PDF in Adobe Reader, and from the menu at the top, select "Tools," then "Select & Zoom," then "Snapshot Tool" (see screenshot below). The cursor will change to a cross-hair, and you simply drag this over any part of the PDF to take a "snapshot" of whatever you want to extract. You can extract an entire table, part of a table, a figure/chart (with or without titles), etc. and then paste from your clipboard into the presentation software that you are using (or any software that has this functionality). In addition, the image that has been “snapped” can be saved (using your favourite image editing software) in any file format that is permitted (e.g., .jpg, .gif, .tiff, etc.).  The "Snapshot" tool can also be loaded permanently as an icon on your toolbar.

To obtain a high-resolution image, it is recommended that you change your preferences in Adobe Reader (see screenshot below). To do this, from the menu at the top, select "Edit," then "Preferences," and from the window that opens, select "General" under "Categories:" (left-hand side of the window). You will also see a checkbox that reads "Use fixed resolution for snapshot tool images" (right-hand side, under "basic tools"). Set the value to 300 pixels/inch for a very high resolution image. You only need to do this part once, and it will remain as your preference.

When pasted into other software, the image may be quite large, but can be resized by dragging one of the corner handles with the cursor to the desired size (while holding down the “shift” key to ensure proportionality).