pdftotext - Unix, Linux Command

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pdftotext - Portable Document Format (PDF) to text converter (version 3.00)


pdftotext [options] [PDF-file [text-file]]


Pdftotext converts Portable Document Format (PDF) files to plain text.

Pdftotext reads the PDF file, PDF-file, and writes a text file, text-file. If text-file is not specified, pdftotext converts file.pdf to file.txt. If text-file is '-’, the text is sent to stdout.


Pdftotext reads a configuration file at startup. It first tries to find the user’s private config file, ~/.xpdfrc. If that doesn’t exist, it looks for a system-wide config file, /etc/xpdf/xpdfrc. See the xpdfrc(5) man page for details.


Many of the following options can be set with configuration file commands. These are listed in square brackets with the description of the corresponding command line option.
-f number
  Specifies the first page to convert.
-l number
  Specifies the last page to convert.
-layout Maintain (as best as possible) the original physical layout of the text. The default is to 'undo’ physical layout (columns, hyphenation, etc.) and output the text in reading order.
-raw Keep the text in content stream order. This is a hack which often "undoes" column formatting, etc. Use of raw mode is no longer recommended.
  Generate a simple HTML file, including the meta information. This simply wraps the text in <pre> and </pre> and prepends the meta headers.
-enc encoding-name
  Sets the encoding to use for text output. The encoding-name must be defined with the unicodeMap command (see xpdfrc(5)). The encoding name is case-sensitive. This defaults to "Latin1" (which is a built-in encoding). [config file: textEncoding]
-eol unix | dos | mac
  Sets the end-of-line convention to use for text output. [config file: textEOL]
-nopgbrk Don’t insert page breaks (form feed characters) between pages. [config file: textPageBreaks]
-opw password
  Specify the owner password for the PDF file. Providing this will bypass all security restrictions.
-upw password
  Specify the user password for the PDF file.
-q Don’t print any messages or errors. [config file: errQuiet]
-cfg config-file
  Read config-file in place of ~/.xpdfrc or the system-wide config file.
-v Print copyright and version information.
-h Print usage information. (-help and --help are equivalent.)


Some PDF files contain fonts whose encodings have been mangled beyond recognition. There is no way (short of OCR) to extract text from these files.


The Xpdf tools use the following exit codes:
0 No error.
1 Error opening a PDF file.
2 Error opening an output file.
3 Error related to PDF permissions.
99 Other error.


The pdftotext software and documentation are copyright 1996-2004 Glyph & Cog, LLC.


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