PDF & OCR: Everything You Need to Know in 2022

Published on: December 9, 2021
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Table of Contents:

Do you need OCR technology for your PDFs? Learn how to convert scanned documents, images of text, or existing PDFs into fully searchable and editable PDF documents!

What you'll learn:

  • What is OCR?
  • Benefits of OCR
  • How to PDF OCR

You can probably remember a time in your life when you had a PDF that you were trying to select text in, search for a word, or highlight a passage, and were unable to.

What is OCR?

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is software that can read text in images and convert it into searchable, editable text. This includes text from scanned paper documents, image-based PDFs, and PNG or JPG files.

OCR technology adds a layer of real text on top of the image, effectively “converting” the document into a text-based PDF document. The new layer is usually transparent, however, so you would not be able to edit or change the underlying text, but would be able to search, select, edit, copy, and paste text directly from the OCR’d PDF document.

In order to be able to edit a scanned document you’d need to: apply OCR, delete the background image of the text, then swap out the transparent text with a font and color that is similar to the original document. Or you could use a PDF editor that does this automatically.

Benefits of OCR

Any time you have image-based text that you need to convert to real text, OCR is your best friend.

Here are just a few of the ways to use OCR PDF:

How to PDF OCR

By default, most PDF programs and computers do not come with OCR capabilities (including Adobe Reader). Some scanners may come with OCR technology, but they would only make the text selectable, not editable.

You’ll need a PDF editor with OCR technology.

We recommend PDF Pro + OCR, our All-in-One PDF OCR, editor, creator, reader, and markup tool. Our best-in-class OCR technology ensures fast and accurate text recognition.

Convert Existing PDF to OCR PDF

1. In PDF Pro, open your PDF document.

2. Click the OCR tab.

OCR tab with a red box around it in PDF Pro.

3. Press Current file.

OCR Current file button with a red box around it.

4. Specify your desired settings (including searchable or editable PDF).

OCR dialog box with red box around Recognition mode section, with the Searchable text radio button selected.

5. Press Run to finish the OCR process.

OCR dialog box with Run button highlighted.

Scan to PDF OCR

It couldn’t be easier to scan to PDF with PDF Pro.

If you need to scan a document to OCR PDF:

1. Open PDF Pro.

2. Press the Create tab, then click Scan.

Scan button with a red box around it in the Create tab of PDF Pro.

3. In the dialog box, specify your settings and select your Scanner.

Scan to PDF dialog box with Scanner, Scanner properties, and Output sections highlighted.

4. Press Scan.

Scan button highlighted in Create PDF from scanner dialog box.

5. Click the OCR tab, then press Current file.

OCR Current file button with a red box around it.

6. Specify settings, then press Run to finish converting to OCR PDF.

OCR dialog box with Run button highlighted.

If you already have a scanned document ready to OCR, follow the steps below:

Convert to Searchable PDF

1. Open PDF Pro.

2. Press OCR tab, then press From file.

OCR From file button with a red box around it in PDF Pro.

3. Find, select, and open your file.

4. Specify OCR settings, making sure to click searchable PDF.

OCR dialog box with Searchable text radio button highlighted

5. Click Run.

OCR dialog box with Run button highlighted.

Convert to Editable PDF

1. Open PDF Pro.

2. Press the OCR tab, then click From file.

OCR From file button with a red box around it in PDF Pro.

3. Find, select, and open your file.

4. Specify OCR settings, making sure to click editable PDF.

OCR dialog box with Editable text radio button selected and highlighted.

5. Click Run.

OCR dialog box Run button highlighted.

The Benefits of Performing OCR on a PDF

You’ve probably experienced how convenient it is to be able to search for an exact word, copy and paste text, or select passages from a PDF document.

You may have also experienced how inconvenient and annoying it is when you aren’t able to.

OCR technology reads text from PDFs and images, then converts them into actual text that you can interact and work with.

This saves you time by allowing you to do things such as search for text in a long PDF or document, edit text from images, and convert scanned documents into a searchable and editable PDF. For everything OCR and PDF, we recommend PDF Pro + OCR. Our All-in-One PDF creator, converter, editor, merger, and more.

Do you need to use OCR right now? Download PDF Pro + OCR for free or Buy Now today!

Other things that make PDF Pro so awesome:

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Arron StaradubDigital Marketing Specialist
Arron is a Digital Marketer at PDF Pro, where he writes helpful and engaging articles for those that that use PDFs in their daily life. He has a knack for explaining concepts in an easily understandable way. He also loves reading and drinking too much coffee.