Can Python Read Pdf Files

Python Programming

As a technical writer and avid Python enthusiast, I have often found myself in situations where I needed to extract information from PDF files. Whether it’s retrieving specific data or analyzing the content of a document, being able to read and manipulate PDF files programmatically can be incredibly useful.

So, the burning question is: can Python read PDF files? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding yes! Python offers several libraries that allow you to not only read but also manipulate and extract data from PDF files effortlessly. In this article, I will explore some of these libraries and share my personal insights and experiences.

1. PyPDF2

One of the most popular libraries for working with PDF files in Python is PyPDF2. It provides a wide range of functionalities, including extracting text, merging multiple PDFs, and even encrypting and decrypting PDF files. PyPDF2 is lightweight, easy to use, and compatible with both Python 2 and Python 3.

Here’s a simple example of how you can use PyPDF2 to extract text from a PDF file:

import PyPDF2

pdf_file = open('example.pdf', 'rb')
pdf_reader = PyPDF2.PdfFileReader(pdf_file)

num_pages = pdf_reader.numPages
text = ""

for page_num in range(num_pages):
page = pdf_reader.getPage(page_num)
text += page.extractText()



By iterating over each page of the PDF file and using the extractText() method, we can extract the text and store it in a variable.

2. pdftotext

Another powerful library for extracting text from PDF files is pdftotext. Unlike PyPDF2, pdftotext is a wrapper around the pdftotext command-line utility, which needs to be installed separately.

Here’s an example of how you can use pdftotext to extract text from a PDF file:

import pdftotext

with open('example.pdf', 'rb') as pdf_file:
pdf_text = pdftotext.PDF(pdf_file)

text = ""

for page in pdf_text:
text += page


By using pdftotext, we can easily extract the text from a PDF file without the need for additional dependencies.

3. tabula-py

If you’re working with PDF files that contain tabular data, tabula-py is an excellent library to consider. It allows you to extract tables from PDF files and convert them into pandas dataframes, making data analysis and manipulation a breeze.

Here’s an example of how you can use tabula-py to extract a table from a PDF file:

import tabula

df = tabula.read_pdf('example.pdf')


With just a few lines of code, tabula-py enables you to extract tables from PDF files and work with the data in a familiar pandas dataframe format.


Python provides a plethora of libraries that empower developers to read, manipulate, and extract information from PDF files effortlessly. In this article, we explored three popular libraries – PyPDF2, pdftotext, and tabula-py – and showcased how they can be utilized to tackle various PDF-related tasks.

Whether you’re interested in extracting text, merging PDFs, or working with tabular data, Python has you covered. So, the next time you find yourself needing to interact with PDF files programmatically, remember that Python is your go-to language!