Sometimes co-workers, friends or family will send me a Word or Google Document filled with images because it’s the only way they know how to get images to me. Other times I’ll find a slide deck containing several pictures I want for one reason or another and would like to keep. In any case, I want images that are embedded in a format that doesn’t make it easy to pull them out.
I want the individual image files, and I don’t want to spend a lot of time getting them. Right clicking on more than one image to save it to the disk for more than one is out of the question, so what’s an empowered user to do?
In today’s post, we’ll learn how to pull all the images in any MS Office or Google Doc file, quickly and easily.
Crack Open That Doc, and Scoop Out the Warm Imagey Innards
Sorry. Gross metaphor.
Microsoft Office files like Word and PowerPoint are not actually a single file, they’re containers. A container is a special kind of folder containing several files that define information about the doc like its style, settings, code for rendering charts, and metadata as well as the actual written content within the file.
Most importantly for us is that it also contains a folder called “media” and that folder contains every single image in the file.
All you need to do is reveal the document’s true nature as a folder you can navigate through and then grab the resources you need from the media folder.
First, make a copy of the document you want images from as this process will destroy the file.
Select the file and hit return to begin editing the file’s name. Move your cursor to the end of the file name and change the extension from .docx (or pptx if it’s a presentation) to .zip.
File extensions are the bit at the very end of a file after the dot like .pdf, .docx, .rtf, etc. They define what type of file something is and tells the operating system what application should open it.
If you’re not seeing extensions, make sure they’re visible. In Finder go to Finder > Preferences… > Advanced and check “Show all filename extensions
Unpack the Zip
After doing this, double click on the zip file you’ve just turned your doc into to unpack it. You’ll be left with a folder named “Your Word Doc File.zip Folder”. Open it up and find the folder called “media”. It’s usually in another folder called “word” or something similar. Inside, you will find all your images, sitting nice and neat.
Now wasn’t that easy?
Works with PowerPoint Too!
The exact same process is used for pulling the images out of PowerPoint presentations. Just replace “.pptx” with “.zip”.
If It Unzips Into a .cpgz File
MacOS Mojave has been doing this to me in the Finder, which is annoying. If your zip file “My Doc.zip” turns into “My Doc.zip.cpgz”, first thing you should do is yell a swear word, then take a deep breath because you’re going to have to do a thing that seems scary, but you are 100% capable of doing: using a Terminal command.
Please stop your hyperventilating, this is going to be easy as long as you follow the steps below. The Terminal is very intimidating but it’s your friend. Your nerdy, ultra smart friend who speaks a different language just to intimidate you. But just remember, you’re the cool friend in this relationship and the Terminal want’s to impress you.
Open the Terminal by brining up Spotlight and typing “terminal” or go to “Applications > Utilities > Terminal.app”
Change Directory to Where Your Zip Is
You need to tell the Terminal where it’s going to put the unzipped folder.
- In the Terminal type “cd” followed by a space
- Find the folder your zip file is in, then drag it onto the Terminal window
- Hit Return
Use the “unzip” Command
You’re doing great. Now we can unzip the zip
- Type “unzip” followed by a space
- Drag the zip file onto the Terminal window
- Hit Return
Voila! You now have your document unpacked into a folder. Open it up, find “word” then “media” and the images are all yours!
BONUS: Rename Them to All Something Else Quickly
By default, the images are just named Image1, Image2, … But if you want to be a neat freak, you can quickly give them a new name.
As of MacOS Yosemite, you can batch rename items directly from the Finder—something you used to need an automator workflow or 3rd party software to do.
Select all the images in the media folder and go to “File > Rename N Items…”. Rename Items has three options for you:
- Replace Text: Simple search and replace (no regex)
- Add Text: Insert text at the beginning or end of the existing titles
- Format: Rename everything according to a convention like “New Name 0001”
I’m a big fan of the Format option with the “Name and index” format which will put an integer before or after a base name that you choose.
Note the space after “Pull Images”, so that there is a space between the base name and the index.
Woot woot! We now have all the images from a word or ppt doc as individual files and named something that makes sense to us. And it all took under a minute!
Pulling From Google Docs/Slides
Simple! Just Download the Google Document as a Word Doc and repeat the steps above. No need to make it any more complicated.
This trick has saved me untold hours over the years and it’s one of those things that is faster to do in almost every instance. The next time somebody sends you a document and asks you to take out all its images, you can feel a rush of excitement knowing that you’ll be able to use your new trick instead of cringe knowing you’ll need to save two dozen pictures one by one.
Being an empowered user is about feeling OK breaking things. Sometimes that means breaking old habits, sometimes it means breaking apart your workflow to analyze it, and this time it means breaking apart a file to extract the part you want.
Go forth, empowered users, and continue breaking things.