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I came across a phrase on my Kindle that I wanted to keep and was pleased to discover that there are several ways you can copy text from a Kindle.

To copy and paste from the Kindle, highlight the text as notes and export the notes into Notepad or an alternative text editor. Depending on the book, there are some limitations on the amount and type of text that can be copied.

This is a sample highlighted note:

The text is from Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet. And a little puzzle (Exhibit A): Can you guess what is the 3-letter word blurred out?

Read on to see the different ways we can copy text and what else to look out for. I wrote this post for the Kindle Paperwhite, but it should be the same for other Kindle devices.

How to copy paste from the Kindle

The default process involves three steps. And this could vary depending on the type of book or document that you are reading.

Step 1 - Highlight as notes

On your Kindle device, press and hold at the start of the text you want to copy. Drag your finger to the right until all the text have been covered. If the text continues to the next page, just hold and drag your finger to the edge and the screen will flip to the next page, continuing the highlight.

If you make a mistake, just press once on the highlighted text and press 'Delete'.

Step 2 - Export highlighted notes

After highlighting, press near the top of the screen to open the options panel.

Then click on the 'GO TO' link. And click on the 'Notes' tab.

At the bottom, you should see an 'Export Notes' link. Click on that and click 'Send' in the confirmation box.

Now, this is the part that gets a little tricky. Depending on the type of book or document you are reading, you might not see this 'Export Notes' option. If this is the case, I've listed down a few alternatives you can try below.

Step 3 - Open and copy exported notes

The exported notes will normally show up in your email inbox after a few minutes. This is the email that you used to register your kindle.

The notes you highlighted will appear as an attachment in the email. This is normally a PDF, Excel spreadsheet, or HTML file. You can open this attachment and copy the text as you would a normal file.

Highlighted notes. And a clue to Exhibit A: The answer is written on this page.

Nonetheless, the method above doesn't work for some types of books and documents. If such is the case, you can try the alternatives below.

How to Copy Paste Text in the Kindle App on a Tablet or Phone

I like sending PDF documents to the Kindle. I then read in the comfort of the eReader and highlight notes as I would a normal book. But often I do not see the 'Export Notes' option for these types of documents.

A work-around is to use the Kindle app on the phone or tablet.

Open the document using the app, then click near the top to open the options panel. Next, click on the 'My Notebook' icon.

You should see your notes listed. Click on the 'Share' icon on top, then 'Export Notebook'.

A prompt may appear asking you about the Citation style. If you are only using the notes for yourself, then you don't have to worry about this and just use the default. Otherwise, use the style that fits your organization. This will only affect one line in the document's header.

The app will then ask you where to upload the export file. Select a folder and the app will begin the upload. You can also choose to send the file via email.

Afterwards, you can open this file and copy the text as you would a normal file.

How to Copy Paste Text Using Kindle for PC

This came as a bit of a surprise for me as it felt too easy.

The Kindle for PC application has an option to copy directly from the book itself. The copied text can then be pasted into a regular text editor. Using this approach, it is not necessary to use the highlight and export notes feature. The software is available for both Windows and Mac.

Installing the program is not the most straightforward though, and I've encountered some issues. The version I received from my Amazon orders page won't download my eBooks. Other people online seem to encounter a similar problem as well. But I've had success in using the installer located here:

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/fd/kcp

After installation, you will see all your Kindle books automatically. Unfortunately though, it still won't show PDF documents.

And as convenient as this looks, we would still need to move to a different device while reading. Whereas, the first option would allow us to stick to the Kindle, highlight notes as we read along, and later copy the text in one go.

Alternative ways to copy notes from Kindle (without violating copyright)

For various reasons, copying and exporting of notes isn't the same for all the content that we read in the Kindle. Here are some alternatives if you encounter these problems.

First, a gentle reminder. It might not be evident what is the extent of copying we can do without violating copyright law. So as a general rule, if you are only copying text as notes for yourself and aren't displaying these texts publicly, then you should be fine. Otherwise, you'd best contact the publisher for permission.

As for the amount of text we can copy for our own use, some books have defined limits which are visible in the 'Export Notes' feature.

This example shows a 10% limit for the entire book.

If there are no limits indicated, use your good faith judgement. But do not distress yourself. If you are not sharing these notes publicly, you should be fine.

Take a screenshot and use OCR to extract text

If you still don't see a way to export or copy text given the options above, an alternative is to use optical character recognition software or OCR. This is basically a way to extract text from images or screenshots.

First, we need to have a way to view our notes in the computer. We've already shown this via the Kindle for PC application. Another option is the Kindle Cloud Reader.

Use the Kindle Cloud Reader on your browser

Access the cloud reader by going to:

https://read.amazon.com/

Your books as well as notes will be automatically synchronized there. Sometimes it won't sync as quickly, and you may have to refresh the browser.

But at the time of this writing, PDF documents still won't show up in the cloud reader. So at least for now, we can only use this to view notes on books not documents.

Once we have our notes visible on screen, we can use OCR to take a screenshot and convert the image to text. Here are some OCR tools:

OCR - Image Reader (Google Chrome)

This is a free add-on for the Google Chrome browser that is quite easy and fast to use. With the Kindle Cloud Reader open in your browser, select a rectangular area on the screen as if you are taking a screenshot. Then the tool pops-out a dialog box that shows the text extracted from the screenshot.

Don't forget to enable the add-on through the settings drop-down. This add-on only requires one browser permission: Display notifications.

Image Reader (OCR) by Sevina (Google Chrome, Firefox)

This is also a free and easy to use add-on for Google Chrome and Firefox. You'd need to take a screenshot of the area you want to convert, save it to a file, and then upload to this tool.

I really like how the developers made the add-on not ask for any browser permissions.

SnagIt (Windows and Mac)

This is a very popular screen capture tool that has been around for a while. They also have very good OCR functionality. It is a desktop software for either a Windows or Mac PC, not your browser.

It's free for 15 days and after that, it costs a one-time fee of $50. There is no free plan.

The process is the same. Open the book in the Kindle Cloud Reader or Kindle for PC. Then use SnagIt's "Grab Text" feature.

SnagIt Grab Text option. And the last clue for Exhibit A: The answer is also written on this passage.

Now, If we are already using OCR, why not do it from the beginning and skip many of the steps listed above? Using an OCR app on your phone, you could also take photos of the Kindle device itself.

Use an OCR app on your phone

There are several free apps that can take photos and convert the image to text. Some examples are Text Fairy by Renard Wellnitz and OCR Text Scanner by Rishi Apps.

Text Fairy
OCR Text Scanner

These apps do a good job at extracting the text, but if you would like to work on the captured text on the computer, you'd have to manually transfer them. This brings me to my favorite alternative for quickly copying notes from the Kindle.

Use Google Keep

I wonder why I didn't pay more attention to this nifty little app before.

First released in 2013, this note-taking app by Google has been steadily improving and updating its capabilities. It's easy to use and comes with several handy features for organizing your notes.

You take a photo and save it as a note in Google Keep. Then click on the image and select 'Grab image text'.

Google Keep will automatically synchronize these notes across your devices. So in short order, you can see the captured text in the computer where you can copy and edit as you please.

If you are offline, you won't be able to use the 'Grab image text' feature on your phone. But you can do it at a later time either on your phone or even better, on the PC. The image is saved in Google keep so you don't really have to grab the text right that moment.

You can just collect these photos of notes as you are reading and later convert and organize them in Google Keep when it's most convenient. It makes for a more uninterrupted reading flow.

This automatic sync makes the process much more efficient, but there's even more to Google Keep that can help us organize our Kindle notes. Including searching, annotations, and note reminders. We talk about those in another article.

These are various ways to copy and paste text in the Kindle. The easiest and most seamless option is to use the Kindle's own 'Export Notes' feature. But if you don't mind switching to another device while reading, Kindle for PC and Google Keep offers a good alternative and a slew of other benefits.

P.S. Here's the answer to our little quiz above, Exhibit A:

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