What is the 'easiest' way to get word (and/or page) count of PDFs?

By 'easy' I mean 'an app where you can read/annotate the PDF and get word count as well, without having to resort to clunky copying/pasting'. I know one can copy/paste things from any PDF reader into Word/Pages and get this info. I'd rather hear about a more practical/robust solution.

Ideally I'd want to know if this is available (in this order of preference):

  1. In Preview (my default PDF reader)
  2. In another PDF reading app (which I'd be happy to make default)

If the above doesn't exist, I'd also be content with programmes that do word/page count exclusively (although you won't be able to read/annotate the PDF). Ideally in this order of preference:

  1. An app with a GUI
  2. A command line programme

Thanks for any ideas!

  • superuser.com/questions/221359/…
    – owlswipe
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 11:15
  • Thank you. This is an idea, although my least preferred solution. @PeterVP (below) suggested a solution that suits my needs better.
    – Rodrigo
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 16:41

3 Answers 3


WordService from DEVONtechnologies will do statistics (count words, characters, lines) on seleced text. Page count is shown in the titlebar of Preview.
It does more than statistics, like uppercase, lowercase, converting tabs to spaces or vice-versa, date and time functions, etc.
And as it is a Service-provider it's available in all Cocoa apps via the Services menu or contextual menus under the Services heading.

DEVON's products page
Look under the Freeware section. Available from their website and the Mac App Store.

  • 1
    This is precisely the kind of thing I was looking for. One minor remark: I wasn't aware that I needed to restart the system after installing WordService from the AppStore. I spent quite some time looking for the service in Preview and System Preferences, before trying restarting the system. After a restart, WordService was active in Preview and configurable in System Preferences. If more people stumble upon this question, your answer will be even more helpful if you mention that the system might have to be restarted after installing the app. Thank you loads for solving my problem!
    – Rodrigo
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 16:38
  • It has been so long ago that I installed it the first time (on OS X 10.2?) that I forgot that a restart is required. I just checked the Help file, and it says logging out and in again should do the trick
    – PeterVP
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 22:28

I developed a very small app "PDF Word Counter", which is designed to be the easiest possible way to count words in a given PDF. One simply drags and drops the pdf in to get the word count back. (The app is free in the sense of both speech and beer)


Foxit PDF Reader (a free and robust overall PDF reader/annotator) can show the word count, but as far as I can tell, it will only do so in the Windows version. It may also be in the Mac version, but the interface is so completely different that I cannot find it if it is there. I'm still shocked that the expensive Acrobat Pro software cannot do this.

  • If it only works in the Windows version, how does this address the OP's question?
    – Allan
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 18:47
  • Good point- I was going to say that the OP never actually specified that this was a Mac only question, but then I discovered the "apple" in the URL. I found this page from Google and just didn't notice that it was an Apple-specific forum. However, it may be that the Apple version can do it, but I just haven't figured it out yet. In any case, I thought more information would be helpful, even if it wasn't the most direct answer to the problem. Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 22:18
  • I was going to say that the OP never actually specified that this was a Mac only question, It's pretty much understood that everything here is Apple related as we are Ask Different - Answers to your Apple questions. The URL should also give us away.....
    – Allan
    Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 22:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .