How To Copy Text From Kindle For Mac

Using and quite enjoying the Kindle App on my HTC Evo, I thought it might not be a bad idea to grab it for OS X when I saw it on the new Mac App Store.  I was quickly disappointed to find, however, that I could not copy text from within my books!

After a minute or two of finagling I came up with a fairly simple solution:

  • Select the text you want and click search from the menu that automatically pops up
I wish I could copy this!

Selecting some text in the Kindle App

  • On the top right of the application you can see that the selected text has been inserted into the search bar.  From here you can double click the text to select it, right-click (or Control-Click), and simply select ‘copy’.  (The Command-C shortcut will not work here!)
Welcome to my clipboard!

And now we can copy!

What you do with the text from there is up to you, but I strongly encourage you not to use it to engage in plagiarism or any sort of ‘book piracy’!  Its a shame that Amazon has doubtlessly included this functionality as a protection against piracy.. especially when I use their mp3 service mainly because it’s DRM free!

39 Comments

  1. al January 20, 2011

    genius, didn’t want to plagiarize, just print!

  2. Sabine March 9, 2011

    Thanks for figuring this out. Although a tedious way of copy and pasting at least it is way. I have no desire to plagiarize or copy the entire book either, but needed to get some info from a book into a document for someone else to read.

  3. dan March 24, 2011

    thanks so much!

  4. Josh April 19, 2011

    Awesome! I buy a lot of my texts for school on Kindle. Love being able to copy quotes from my Kindle and paste them into my papers.

  5. Josh April 19, 2011

    I’ve found a more efficient way to copy text. Try this instead. Select the text you want, just as you did when using the search function, but instead right click and select “Lookup” rather than “Search”. This will give you the option of looking up your selected text in either Google or Wikipedia. Select Google and all of your selected text will be placed into Google’s search window. Then simply Command-A and Command-C. There you go! Much faster for lengthier portions of text.

  6. td April 19, 2011

    thanks I just wanted a way to use the text with my personal text to speech program…if I couldn’t do this i wasn’t going to start buying books from amazon kindle. (the default computer TTS is very hard to listen to for me).

  7. Skye April 19, 2011

    Interesting approach. It seems like an extra step to me, however, as you would click “Search in Google” and then copy the text. This method let’s you copy it directly from the search bar in the app. Are your menu options the same as those pictured?

  8. Frank Griffith July 27, 2011

    This doesn’t seem to work in 10.7. The text appears there but you cannot get to the copy command. This is the latest version of Kindle reader with 10.7. Any solution?

  9. Frank Griffith July 27, 2011

    Got it to work. Just had to triple click in the little search window to select all the text. Thanks

  10. Skye July 27, 2011

    Thanks for checking this out on Lion, Frank! I personally haven’t been brave enough to take the jump yet ;)

  11. Guntis August 19, 2011

    In Lion the latest version trims search query to one sentence. Grrrr…

  12. Skye August 21, 2011

    I’m on Lion with Kindle 1.2.3 and it seems to still be working for me..

  13. Terry August 21, 2011

    Anybody figured out how to copy text from Kindle on an iPad?

  14. Guntis August 22, 2011

    How I get real text on iPhone: Make a screenshot of any Kindle book (text), then open ABBYY TextGrabber app on iPhone and do OCR. Result is plain text.

  15. dwayne August 23, 2011

    “Anybody figured out how to copy text from Kindle on an iPad?”

    To my knowledge, you can’t. But you can have the next best thing:

    • in your web browser, go to kindle.amazon.com
    • log in using your account name & password
    • click on the “YOUR HIGHLIGHTS” hyperlink at the top of the page
    • this will take you to all of your highlighted text for each Kindle book (most recent first).

    Enjoy!

  16. Caglan September 3, 2011

    You cannot copy much with the given methods. You are limited to copy certain amount of characters, so, does not work to copy 2 sentences or a paragraph.

  17. Skye September 3, 2011

    Are you talking about copying on iOS or on OS X? I haven’t yet run into any problems on OS X with copying large portions of text..

  18. Marc September 14, 2011

    Skye, I’m currently using 1.6.1 on OSX and I can’t seem to copy any more than 23 words using the search method. I “upgraded” to 1.7.1 and although the search bar had moved to the left side of the reading pane, couldn’t get any benefit from the search / copy routine. Have since reverted to 1.6.1 just to ensure that no features have “disappeared”. The same limit o text using the Google method also had the same limit on text – ending at the same word as using search. I just want to copy paragraphs as summary notes – not the whole text. AARRGGHH!

    Thoughts / ideas guys?

  19. Peter September 14, 2011

    When reading a book I usually mark a section need or want then enter the page number into a notebook for future reference. Now that I read books on kindle I’m glad to be able to copy text into notebook on the noteshelf app (I recommend this app to all). Thanks

  20. Martin September 20, 2011

    At least for now and on my system (OS10.6.8, Kindle 1.7.1), CMND-C works within Kindle and can copy more than just a small tidbit of text. When I take notes on books, this works much better than the search option approach, which seems to be limited to small amounts of text. You wouldn’t want to copy a whole book this way, so Amazon doesn’t lose anything. And it sure helps researchers like me who need to take notes. Here’s hoping they keep this option. I just bought a Kindle version of a book I already own so I can do this and will do the same with other books I own and still need to take notes on.

  21. Skye September 20, 2011

    Interesting, the latest version coming from the Mac App Store is 1.5.2 (I’m on Lion 10.7.0) and highlighting Command-C works now as well. It puts a citation to the book a few line breaks after the content, but I can live with that, and it could turn out to be pretty helpful.. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, it makes Kindle an interesting option for research once again, as the hack I came up with was frankly a nuisance to use on the fly.

  22. Jerald September 26, 2011

    Thanks! I just wanted to use the speech function, so that I could the mac to do the work of reading the book to me while I clean my room.

  23. Kristina September 27, 2011

    Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!!!!!! You rock!! :)

  24. alua January 17, 2012

    I understand why amazon disabled copying text, but I’m annoyed too: I don’t want to plagiarise, I want to review books and use some quotes and it is terribly tedious to type them out.

    Never mind that someone who wants to produce an illegal copy of the whole book can just use screen shots and some OCR programme!

    It’s the same thing with all the single region DVDs: they are only preventing people who legally purchase them from viewing them, not actual DVD pirates!

  25. john g January 19, 2012

    many thanks, solved a riddle for me J

  26. Kathy January 25, 2012

    Does anyone have a method of using “text to speech” to read the book, such as Jerald ask (so he could clean his room.) I want to use it to read the book to me while I do other things, but it will only read what is highlighted, and you can’t scroll while highlighting. This means you have to highlight one page at a time, listen, turn the page, highlight, listen, etc. etc.

    Help. I have tons of reading to do and need a way to listen to books that are not available through Audible.

  27. Skye January 25, 2012

    The text to speech service in OS X will only work with the text provided by the application, so it would probably work with a more general OS X hack where you could continuously select and scroll text. I haven’t seen anything like this floating around unfortunately..

  28. Annoyed Customer February 28, 2012

    If it’s a soft copy, and you have paid for it, you should be able to copy the text… it’s that simple.
    Here are some easy to follow instructions on how to convert your kindle document into epub format.

    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/01/how-to-strip-drm-from-kindle-e-books-and-others/

    The result will be viewable in Calibre, and it won’t be as pretty as what you see in your kindle, but you will be able to copy your text.. run your text-to-speech through a 3rd party program… whatever, it’s your media, you paid for it.

    I think they disabled this core part of their program on the mac, because it is so easy to run a text-to-speech command ( mine is hot-keyed ). The copy feature is still enabled on my PC version of the kindle software.

  29. Al March 6, 2012

    This just goes to show how messed up the entire DRM system is. It’s not stopping people from plagiarizing/pirating books, but instead is preventing the legitimate users from making use of their purchases. I’m simply trying to copy a large block of code from the book, and now they’re making me jump through these hoops, when I could have just pirated the ePub version instead? First and Last purchase for my kindle. Next time, I’m skipping the middle man of Amazon, and going straight to the publisher, who offers an ePub ebook.

  30. cyril May 22, 2012

    And how do they think I will copy/paste lines of code to test them ? thank you for the tip !

  31. Chris July 3, 2012

    I agree with Annoyed Customer et al. I have bought a number of books that are for computer coding, I feel like I have gone back to the 70/80′s when you had to type code out by hand.

    I don’t think it is unreasonable to have some form of copy/paste for people who have paid for it after all.

  32. Linda December 10, 2012

    I’ve bought a cookbook from Amazon. I like to have a print to mark up as I work from a recipe. It doesn’t seem that much to ask – to print just one page.

  33. Waldemar March 10, 2013

    As Caglan said, for me it’s also limited to just one word.
    (Samsung Galaxy S3, Kindle app).

    Also, for some books it is not possible to see your highlights on kindle.amazon.com/your_highlights.

  34. toz35 March 11, 2013

    Seconding or millioning about coding. Its running me crazy. Should I buy the book then download the PDF version as well ! Instead of typing the code by hand, I just want to be able to copy and paste the code…

  35. Uwotm8 April 4, 2013

    absolute bs, so frustrating!

  36. Chris April 16, 2013

    I tried this from a post made by Dwayne about two years ago and it works perfect and simple thanks again.

    dwayne August 23, 2011

    “Anybody figured out how to copy text from Kindle on an iPad?”

    To my knowledge, you can’t. But you can have the next best thing:

    • in your web browser, go to kindle.amazon.com
    • log in using your account name & password
    • click on the “YOUR HIGHLIGHTS” hyperlink at the top of the page
    • this will take you to all of your highlighted text for each Kindle book (most recent first).

    Enjoy!

  37. Slavi Zeze July 5, 2013

    fucking genius…..oh dude you just saved me so much work….thx a lot

  38. John Dohoney July 18, 2013

    Software books should have a copy function that preserves line breaks. It is nice to copy code and run it in a debugger. Some things are not obvious, just by inspection. Any way a tool for software developers can be added to perform this task?

  39. Chris December 11, 2013

    another possibility to get large chunks of text out of the kindle for mac (dont know if it works too with k4pc) :
    highlight the text and locate the library folder on your computer. open all *.mbp files with a text-viewer until you found the correct one. All your highlights will be stored in there (next to a lot of random characters, but you can copy the text out of it).
    only copy out of the file, dont make changes and save, as it might screw up all your annotations.

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