How PDFpen Scan+ Let Me Copy the Uncopiable

Philip Blog, Case Studies, PDFpen Tips

One of the exciting things about app development is seeing the unintended uses of the app after it is alive in the world. 

This is an example of how one of those side effects worked for me.

The Goal

Copy text from a webpage with unselectable text and paste it into an email. 

The Challenge

The webpage in question is the rudimentary front end for a database that is normally never seen on a mobile device. Text selection just doesn't work, no matter how much you zoom in. The information needed to be exact and re-typing all of it on an iPhone is annoying and laborious. 

The Solution

Zoom in to the necessary portion of the page then take a screenshot by holding down the Home and Power buttons at the same time. Then, open Scan+ and import that photo via the Photos button, and run OCR via the “OCR Document” option in the OCR menu.

Voilà, some text that is easily copied into an email, using “Copy page text” from the OCR menu. 

In case you are wondering, that takes 13 taps from initial screenshot to final paste, with a Home button double tap counting as one tap. Having to type out a paragraph of exact code is much more than 13 taps. 

At the end of the day I'm happy to be able to do just one more simple thing on my iPhone that would normally require a Mac. 

Steps: