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Home > Create PDFs on Mac > How to Create PDF from Clipboard

How to Create PDF from Clipboard

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2024-05-22 13:36:15 • Filed to: Create PDFs on Mac • Proven solutions

The clipboard on a Windows or Mac system is a temporary file that captures whatever you copy from a document or a web page. It could also be a screenshot or any other type of capture. Once it’s in the clipboard, you can paste it to another location. But how do you create a PDF from clipboard content? In other words, can you convert to PDF from a clipboard? What is the process and what tools do you need in order to do this? That’s what this article talks about.

Part 1. Overview: Create a PDF from Clipboard Content

A clipboard can contain text, images, and other copyable content. However, since it is not a regular file like a text or image file, you cannot directly create a PDF from it by converting it. That means it requires an intermediary file where you can paste the content before converting it into a PDF file. Alternatively, if you have access to a robust PDF editor like PDFelement, you can directly convert the contents of your clipboard into a PDF file. Most advanced PDF editors have this feature built into them. This includes premium products such as Wondershare Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor and Adobe Acrobat.

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How Does it Work?

When you use a PDF editor for this process, you are essentially using a new PDF file as the intermediary file. The contents of your clipboard are copied to this file and displayed in the software as a PDF file. It doesn’t matter if the clipboard contains text, images, or a combination of both. Whatever you copied to the clipboard will get added to the PDF file in question.

Part 2. How to Convert Clipboard to PDF

The Mac version of PDFelement is a powerful piece of software that works very intuitively with the macOS interface. In the following example, we have used PDFelement Pro 8.0 for Mac, the most powerful Mac version of PDFelement yet. The steps to create a PDF from your clipboard contents only requires three simple steps:

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1. Copy any content from the web or a document (including screenshots) to your clipboard with the Cmd+C command or Right-click → Copy command.

edit pdf text

2. Launch PDFelement.

3. Go to File → New and select PDF from Clipboard.

create from file

That’s it. PDFelement will convert your clipboard contents into a PDF file and display it on your screen.

You can now save the file by going to File → Save As… and assign a different name to the file before saving it.

save as

As you can see, the overall process is extremely simple and can be executed in just a few seconds. You will now be able to add new content to this PDF file using the Add button for that content type.

This is the simplest way to turn your clipboard content into a PDF file.

Part 3. Tips for Creating PDF from Clipboard Content

While this process can be done for any type of content that can be copied to the clipboard, you should also keep these other tips in mind:

Tip 1: Since your clipboard can only contain one copied item, try copying content together instead of as separate elements. For instance, if there is an image and some associated text, select and copy both instead of one at a time. You can create a PDF from this and have both content items added to the file simultaneously.

Tip 2: Save the file to a local location so you can access it later when you need to. You can add more content later on using the Add Text or Add Image process we showed above.

Tip 3: Another great idea would be to copy the entire contents of a document or webpage using the Cmd+A and Cmd+C commands. Your clipboard should be able to hold all the information, and you can paste it in a Word document with the Cmd+V command and create a PDF using the File → Create PDF from File process. You can then choose and delete anything that you don’t want since PDFelement is a full-fledged PDF editor that can control any element in a PDF file.

Tip 4: To preview your clipboard contents on Mac, go to Finder and then go to Edit → Show Clipboard. This will display your clipboard contents in a new window, but it’s merely a preview, not a file in itself.

Tip 5: If you need to copy several items and convert that into PDF, follow the Clipboard to PDF conversion process shown above. After that, copy the next item (for example, text), go back to PDFelement, click the Text Edit icon, place the cursor where you want the text to go, and paste it there using the Cmd+V command. You can do this multiple times to keep adding content to the newly created PDF file.

Tip 6: To add images, save the images as image files and then use the Add Image function in PDFelement to bring them into the document one at a time.

Tip 7: Another way to copy multiple items and create a PDF is to paste each item into a Word file and then convert the file to PDF using the Create PDF function. This uses the File → New → PDF from File functionality, as shown below:

Part 4. Alternative Ways to Capture Content into PDF

Alternative 1: Use a Screenshot Tool

Copying content from the web or an electronic document is often the easiest way to capture content, but you can also use a screenshot tool. This works in pretty much the same way as your clipboard, but you’ll need to paste the content into another file and save it before converting to PDF. The advantage is that you can capture an entire web page this way, and it will have the same layout view because it’s essentially an image. This image file can be converted into a PDF document.

Alternative 2: Scan or Photograph the Content

For paper documents, you can either scan them or take photographs and convert them into editable text using the OCR text recognition feature in PDFelement Pro. OCR is highly accurate and is available for over 20 different languages. The files can be converted into editable or searchable content depending on your requirement.


As you can see, PDFelement makes it easy to copy anything to your clipboard and instantly convert it into a PDF file. This gives you the freedom to generate PDFs from practically any online source without any complicated processes or using unsecure online conversion websites. In addition, you get the benefit of having a tool that you can use to edit PDFs, make annotations, sign forms, protect documents, organize files and pages, extract data, convert with OCR, and do all other basic and advanced tasks for your personal, professional, and office needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the clipboard only contain one element at a time?

The clipboard on Mac and even Windows is a temporary location to store a certain amount of information. It is primarily intended to support the copy-paste function, and when you copy a second item without pasting the first, the first one gets deleted from the clipboard. More accurately, it gets replaced by the content from the second copy action.

How do I clear my clipboard on a public computer?

On a Mac or any other system, the best way to do this is to select a blank space on a document or some irrelevant content on a website and copy it. This will remove the content from your previous copy action and replace it with the space or irrelevant content. Your copied content is now safe! This is especially useful when you’re copy-pasting usernames or passwords for your online accounts.

Is there a second clipboard in Mac?

Surprisingly, not many people know about this second clipboard. It uses the shortcut keys Cmd+K and Cmd+Y, but it doesn’t work on Google Docs and certain types of apps. It’s not as universal as the traditional Cmd+C and Cmd+V shortcut key combinations but it’s useful in a pinch.

Is there an alternative to the clipboard?

Yes, there is a way to copy text without using the clipboard so it can be pasted elsewhere. They’re called text clippings. Simply select a piece of text from anywhere, then drag it to your desktop or even an app or site that accepts text, and drop it there. If you drop it to your desktop, it creates a text clipping, which is not an actual file and cannot be edited. However, it can be dragged from your desktop into another application and dropped there, where it will appear like magic!

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Audrey Goodwin

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