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How to copy text that cannot be copied? 7 methods explained

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Websites have come a long way thanks to the development of new tech stacks and Javascript enhancements that let web developers have a lot more control over how they appear in a browser.

A common theme across several sites is blocking text selection. This means that visitors can’t select and copy text from said sites. In this article, we’re looking at seven ways to copy text that cannot be copied on sites that block text selection.

Also read: What is Hardware Acceleration in Chrome? How to enable or disable it?

Go to the source

Once a site is loaded in your browser, you can access its source code by either right-clicking the page and clicking View Page Source or using a keyboard shortcut like Ctrl + U (works on Edge and Chrome). Once the source is open, find the text you want to copy and go ahead as you usually would.

How to copy text that cannot be copied? 7 methods explained

Disable Javascript

Many sites, especially those built on modern frameworks like React and Next, use Javascript to control mouse functionality. If that’s the case, simply disabling Javascript on your browser will let you disable these settings and copy text as usual. 

Step 1: Head to Chrome’s Javascript settings. You can access them directly at chrome://settings/content/javascript.

Step 2: Under Default behaviour, ensure that Don’t allow sites to use Javascript is enabled. 

Now refresh the page you were on, and you should be able to copy text just fine. You can check our guides on how to disable Javascript in Edge and Firefox

Use the user-select property

CSS is used to style pages, but some properties can control page behaviour to some extent. The user-select property in CSS controls whether or not a user can select items on the page. You can use dev tools in your browser to disable any active CSS properties and select the text you want.

Step 1: Right-click the text you want to select and click Inspect.

Step 2: Under the Styles tab in the dev tools window, find the user-select property and uncheck the checkbox next to it, disabling the property. 

You can now copy text as usual. Dev tools are also a great way to experiment with sites and learn web development. 

Also read: How to change search engine on Edge (Chromium)?

Inspect the Element

Similar to the last step, inspecting the element will point you to the text you want to copy in the page’s source code. All you have to do is right-click the text and select Inspect. The selected text will show up in the dev tools window, and you can copy it from there. 

Print website to PDF

Just like most documents, you can save a website as a PDF as well. Either right-click the page and select Print or press Ctrl + P to open the print window and save the page as a PDF.

Once you’re done, you can open it up just like a regular PDF document and select the text you want. 

Use a proxy site

A lot of websites on the internet will have proxy sites that ask you whether or not you want Javascript enabled when you visit them. It might take a bit of googling around, but once you find the right site, you can disable Javascript from the site itself without affecting your browser’s settings and copying the text you want. 

Take a screenshot

If nothing else works, you can always take a screenshot of the page and move on with your day. This is especially helpful if you’re looking to copy an image off of a site, as you can later crop the screenshot and upscale it to meet your needs.

Also read: Chrome Autofill not working: 6 Fixes

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here:

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