Extracting decent graphics from a document


You are given a document such as Word or FrameMaker that has embedded (nonlinked) graphics. The original graphics are not available. Printing the document results in good images; however, you must get the graphics out of the document, perhaps because you are converting to the another program and you want to use high-quality linked graphics, or because you want to manipulate them in some way.

You find that copy > paste either doesn't work at all, or works only so-so (for example, screen shots get fuzzy).


You will need Acrobat (not just Reader) and a suitable image-editing program (Photoshop, for example).

  1. Create a high-resolution PDF (no compression or subsampling) of the original document.
  2. Open the PDF in Acrobat.
  3. Right-click the graphic; choose Edit. The graphic opens using the application associated with the file (Preferences > Touch-up Preferences). Note that if the Edit gives you a blank graphic, there may be a transparent mask in front of the graphic. Return to the PDF, click once on the graphic, and press Delete. If the graphic disappears, then ... well, that wasn't it.
  4. Save the file.

You may be thinking that you can simply (1) open the PDF in Photoshop or Illustrator and export the PDF as an EPS and open in Photoshop or Illustrator, or (2) print directly to a PostScript or EPS file and edit it. Generally speaking, you can. However, I ran some tests on documents with screen shots and found some interesting things: