Why I Can’t Highlight Text in PDF File? Best Ways to Fix

Mark Regan
Published: July 16th, 2024 • 6 Min Read

Can’t highlight text in PDF? No worries! This article is for you. People often wonder why they are unable to highlight text in PDF, hence the reasons are many. If you are also trying to select a text in PDF but frequently fail to do it then start reading this article. Today we have discussed what to do when the Adobe Highlight tool not working and how to simplify it with simple techniques.

PDF files are crucial for sharing and preserving documents across different platforms. Highlighting text in PDF files allows users to make changes in their PDF files, enhance readability, and review key information. People face several challenges when the feature Adobe PDF highlighter not working.

Understanding the importance of these features, we are here with multiple useful and effective methods to quickly resolve can’t highlight text in PDF issue. Keep reading to know the reasons, and learn about advanced tools and multiple manual techniques.

Why I Can’t Highlight Text in PDF?

Scanned Document: when the PDF files are scanned, they are in the form of an image and not an actual text.

Incompatibility Issues: The Adobe highlight tool you are using may not support the highlighting of the text. However, it can also be outdated.

Comment Restrictions: Your PDF file may not have the necessary permissions to select or edit the text. Certain security can also prevent you from highlighting the text in a PDF file.

Corrupt File: When the PDF files are corrupt or incorrectly formatted, you may encounter issues like can’t highlight text in PDF.

Text Layer Issues: The PDF highlighter software might be unable to recognize the text properly in the absence of a text layer.

Quick Solution to Fix Unable to Highlight Text in PDF Issue

You can enable highlighting text in PDF by trying several manual ways which we have mentioned below. But if you are looking for an all-in-one advanced solution to easily fix the can’t highlight text in PDF documents problem then use PDF Unlocker Wizard.

This is a powerful software specially designed for your PDF files, which allows you to enable editing, copying, and printing. The highly advanced and feature-rich PDF highlighter tool can easily break owner-level, and user-level protections and also remove unknown passwords from PDF without using Adobe Acrobat and help you resolve unable to highlight text in PDF.

Use this tool to smoothly fix the cannot select text in PDF error and start selecting text from multiple PDF files on Windows and Mac computers.

How to Resolve Cannot Highlight Text in PDF Error Manually?

As we said, you can simplify this issue manually too. But remember that all the manual solutions particularly depend on the reasons behind this issue. However, you can try using these methods if you want to enable highlighting in PDF manually.

1. Check If the PDF highlighter Tool is Disabled

  1. Simply open the PDF file which you want to highlight.
  2. You will notice a highlight button at the top of the document.
  3. See if the Adobe highlighter (pen symbol) is greyed out.

If this feature is disabled, it means that the PDF highlighter not working. Try using other methods as there might be some error which is why you can’t highlight text in PDF document.

2. Troubleshoot Browser or Software

This will allow you to fix PDF highlighting issues that you might be encountering because of the problems in your browser and software. Simply clear the browser cache or try using a different PDF reader.

3. Update Software to Fix Can’t Select Text in PDF Error

Make sure the PDF reader you are using is up to date. Users encounter several errors with an outdated version. Check and update it immediately to fix the unable to highlight text in the PDF error.

4. Check If You are Using Scanned Image PDF

  1. Open the PDF File using Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Go to View Menu then Select Tools.
  3. Click on Recognize Text the select a file to run OCR.
  4. Wait for the OCR process to finish.
  5. Now try highlighting the text to ensure that the can’t select text in PDF error is not there now.

5. Bring Out Highlight Limitations Using Adobe Acrobat Pro

  1. Start Adobe Acrobat Pro to solve unable to select text in PDF issues.
  2. Navigate to the Tools options and select “Protect”.
  3. Click on Encrypt option then hit the “Remove Security” option.

6. Repair or Recreate PDF to Fix Can’t Highlight Text in PDF Problem

Users suspecting corrupt or damaged PDF files are usually unable to highlight text in PDF file issues. To resolve it users can simply repair their files using PDF repair tools. However, if it does not work then recreate the PDF file.


Frustrating errors like can’t highlight text in PDF can hinder the productivity of users and impact their performance. However, it is a relief to know that there are several ways to fix this issue. In the above article, we discuss top solutions to resolve unable to select text in PDF error manually and using the all-in-one specialized tool. We hope after reading the article you have successfully understood why you can’t select text in PDF and how to easily fix it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q 1: Why is PDF not letting me highlight?

Some common reasons why you can’t highlight text in PDF are broken or scanned PDF, image PDF, disabled highlighter, and outdated PDF reader software.

Q 2: How to enable highlighting in PDF?

To enable highlighting text in PDF you can try several solutions, such as using the specialized BitRecover PDF highlighter tool, updating software, clearing cache, repairing or recreating PDF, disabling highlighting limitations, avoid using scanner or image PDF files.