copy/paste exact layout into Pages?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Skoal, May 28, 2015.

  1. Skoal macrumors 65816

    Nov 4, 2009
    Is it possible to copy the text and layout of a PDF document and paste it into a blank Pages document so it appears exactly as it does on the PDF? I'm totally new to Pages and am clueless. A Google search didn't seem to answer the question for me.

    Funny enough I created the document in question in Pages and saved it as a PDF thinking I'd never need to edit it. Low and behold I now need to. ANY help would be greatly appreciated!

  2. dyt1983 macrumors 65816

    May 6, 2014
    It depends on the styles you used when creating it. I can create a document using styles I know that would work; I also can create one that will definitely not copy back.

    Why don't you try with the document in question and see if it works? If it looks good, you know the answer in your case is "yes." If it doesn't work, I'd guess the answer is "no." At that point, you'd be best off loading it into an editor that supports loading PDFs (Acrobat, LibreOffice) and editing it there. From LibreOffice you could get it back into Pages.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think what you ask isn't fully possible. Pages (or any other app for that matter) does the best it can do, when pasting information from another app. It doesn't get it right all the time. I don't think it matters how the PDF was generated, by then its too late and there's no connection between the content creation app and acrobat.
  4. sracer macrumors G3


    Apr 9, 2010
    I believe it does matter how the PDF was generated. For example: I've seen some PDFs that were nothing more than a single graphic image per page. That is going to copy-n-paste easily into Pages but obviously no editing of the content will be possible.

    Absent that scenario, it might be helpful to use a 3rd party tool that can export a PDF to a word processing document format. Those specialized tools can sometimes do a better job than system copy-n-paste.
  5. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    OP, very likely no. What you can do is paste the PDF into a Pages document "as is". Then, if the background is one color, overlap areas that need editing with graphic boxes that are the same color (you're covering them with a blank box here), and then put your new content into what looks like erased space. This trick, while not exactly what you want, comes close in that you are only re-creating the parts of the page that needs editing. It will work especially well if what needs editing is on a single color background or if the background is an image that you still have (you can then just lay a copy of the image over the old copy of it to "erase" whatever you added on top of that image).

    If you need to be able to edit much of the page or if the background imagery is not replicable (you didn't keep your background imagery or you can't easily recreate some of the background to effectively overlay it in areas where you want to use the above trick), you're probably going to need to go the recreate track. Pain? Yes. But one of those computer-using lessons that one-time pain will sometimes correct (going forward).

    Alternatively, there are multitudes of tools that aim to convert PDFs to Word docs. You might experiment with some of those. If you can find any that mostly recreates your original in a Word file, you might then be able to import that Word file into Pages and finish recreating it from that file. That might save a little time over recreating it from scratch and/or re-generate some design elements that maybe you can't remember how to recreate or no longer have the originals.

    Lastly, are you sure you don't have a backup somewhere? Have you checked your TimeMachine history? Did you ever put the Pages file on a USB or portable hard drive to move it from one computer to another? Do you sync work files with another Mac and maybe a version of it is still on the other Mac? Did you ever email the Pages file for some reason, put it on a sharing service like Dropbox, etc? Have you replaced your Mac and maybe a copy is still on the old Mac? Any such option could offer a path to potentially find it or an earlier version of the Pages file.

    I hope this is helpful. Good luck.
  6. Skoal thread starter macrumors 65816

    Nov 4, 2009
    I'm siding with you guys. I tried a few times to make it work but it just never formatted we enough to be useable. Luckily it was only a two page document so it was easy to redo. Lesson learned! Always save as pages or word doc and just make a copy for use as a PDF when needed.


    I'll add that I tried to convert it from pdf to word doc on my windows vm (fusion7) using a free converter then tried openening it up in word and even that didn't format well enough to not be a headache.
  7. dyt1983 macrumors 65816

    May 6, 2014
    I still think you should have given my earlier suggestion a go (LibreOffice for free or Acrobat if you have it). Here's a document published by the USB group as a PDF, I loaded it in LibreOffice with all the formatting retained and editable.

    Going forward you know to save docs in a native format, but if you do encounter olders one in PDF, it is often possible to re-edit them (presuming they are ones you created from word processing documents as opposed to being scanned images).

  8. Skoal thread starter macrumors 65816

    Nov 4, 2009

    Thanks for the insight! Good stuff to know. Unfortunately I checked time machine and there was a gap in the time I created it and did my last backup. Another lesson learned haha!

    The doc was all text so using boxes to cover would've probably worked ok but the main issue was getting the layout to work right. When I changed the pdf to a doc it still imported it all funky (spacing, font sizes, etc). No worries though. I've learned a lot from it and the replies in this thread.

    Thanks to all!
  9. Skoal thread starter macrumors 65816

    Nov 4, 2009

    Missed this post! Libreoffice looks like the trick. I'll give it a go. Thanks!

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8 May 28, 2015