How to OCR A PDF on Mac Easily 2020: 6 Ways (Free Included)

2020-07-23 02:59:42 / Posted by Rosa Reyes to PDF Follow @ Rosa

PDFs provide a convenient way for sharing documents, lots of people choose to save their files in PDF. Even when you scan a document, the files may be saved in PDF by default. But a scanned PDF or image PDF is just a large image file, in which the PDF text is not searchable, nor indexable — unless you perform OCR on the PDF file.

This article will introduce 6 solutions on how to OCR a PDF on Mac with good quality OCR PDF apps or OCR PDF on Mac for free, together with several basic things you need to know about PDF OCR on Mac.

Part 1. High Quality PDF OCR Apps for Mac

To OCR PDF documents on mac, we will need to apply the OCR technology, which helps to recognize texts from image-based files and turn them into digital, editable text that can be understood by your devices. While, a PDF OCR program is powered with such an OCR engine to recognize scanned or image documents. With a powerful PDF OCR program, you can:

  • Make scanned PDF editable, searchable and copyable;
  • Recognize text from images files, you can convert image texts to differnt editable formats;
  • Convert native PDF to Word and other frequently-used formats;

#1 An Easy Yet Efficient Way to Do OCR on Mac

    For Everyone Wants to Keep Things Simple

OCR is rarely accurate or affordable, but we have choice. Here, basing on affordability, simplicity and OCR performance, we recommend PDF Converter OCR. It is an OCR program designed to do virtually all kinds of document conversion with high quality results.

Steps to OCR PDF on Mac

As Cisdem's mac ocr tool offers free trial with full features, here we will take Cisdem PDF Converter OCR, the most affordable and efficient way as a demonstration to OCR a PDF on mac.

  1. Launch Cisdem PDF OCR Program for Mac.
    Download Cisdem PDF Converter OCR and then install it on Mac. Run it to start OCR a PDF on mac.
    Free Download
  2. Add PDF Files for OCR on Mac.
    Go to the interface of "Converter", import PDF to the program by drag and drop PDF files, or click the "+" button. It supports batch OCR PDF on mac, you can add dozens of files at one time. how to ocr a pdf on mac with cisdem 01
  3. Tweak the "OCR PDF" settings
    Turn the OCR button ON, select language and page range. It can recognize 200+ languages and supports batch or partial conversion. Also, choose output as needed before starting OCR PDF on to ocr a pdf on mac
  4. Start OCR PDF on mac
    Click "Convert" to perform OCR on PDF files. The OCR process will finish within seconds, you can find the converted file in output folder. The PDF OCR is done!

Also, you can watch the tutorial video to do mac ocr now.

#2 Powerful PDF Editor with OCR feature

 For Users Looking for Advanced OCR Features

Adobe Acrobat (Price: From $12.99/month~$14.99/month), since its creation, is always considered as the most powerful program to deal with PDFs, and its prominence apparently continues in PDF OCR. Besides, it is cross-platform allowing different users to benefit from this feature.

Speaking of its PDF OCR, Adobe Acrobat can automatically perform OCR on scanned files when exporting to an editable formats, but it also offers a set of tools to enhance the OCR performance, for example, capturing the file with mac camera to do ocr, choose pages to perform partial pdf ocr, copying recognized text with formatting, editing the PDF file after ocr directly. 

Undoubtedly, Adobe’s editing feature is the key persuading users into such a purchase. As we know, OCR is rarely perfect, even if there appears OCR errors, users can directly edit or rectify within Adobe, that’s quite convenient.

Steps to OCR PDF on Mac with Adobe

  1. Open PDF with Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Go to Tools> Enhance Scans, select "Enhance", you can choose to OCR all pages or current page, then all the PDF text is searchable and selectable, also you can right click on the text to choose "Edit Text" within the program.
  3. Finally, save the PDF file or go to Tools> Export as Word or other formats.adobe ocr on mac

>>>Watch Adobe Mac OCR Tutorial Video

#3 Professional and Advanced PDF OCR Software

 For Users Looking for Advanced OCR Features

ABBYY FineReader OCR Pro (Price: $ 119.99) is a dedicated OCR software on Mac for converting scans, PDFs and digital photographs into searchable and editable documents. The OCR process is automated, you only need to tell ABBYY FineReader Pro which document to load and to where the OCR version should be saved.

The functionality of scanning papers as digital copy and then importing into ABBYY FineReader is quite pleasing, it allows users to convert paper files to editable PDF or other format easily and effortlessly. In addition, a series of tools are built in to customize or enhance OCR, such as tweaking paper scanning process, editing image, adjusting image quality, adding new task or pages for OCR, etc.

Yet, ABBYY FineReader is just a powerful OCR tool, it doesn’t allow editing, and basing on this, its price seems too high.

Steps to OCR PDF on Mac with ABBYY FineReader

  1. Launch the program, choose "My Mac" to upload scanned PDF for OCR;
  2. Choose the file language, the PDF will be automatically recognized once uploaded, also you can utilize the tools to enhance OCR results;
  3. Go to Export, save as searchable PDF or other formats.

Also, watch Abbyy Mac OCR tutorial video

For sure, there are a lot of new contenders in this field of Mac PDF OCR, but these 3 OCR programs are always the top choice to consider for our mainstream users. It is quite understandable that high price put off some users, in light of that some good OCR program can do the job as good as them without costing so high, such as Cisdem PDF Converter OCR.


Part 2. How to OCR PDF on Mac Free

To OCR a PDF on Mac for free, there are 2 workarounds, either using an offline standalone MAC OCR PDF app or an online free PDF OCR tool.

Yet, we know that offline Mac OCR PDF application is seldom free, if one PDF OCR program is given for free, it must come with limited features, like LEADTOOLS OCR Application.

Also, when we search in Google, we can find there are several websites doing OCR on a PDF or an image on mac for free. However, many of them cannot handle images of poor quality. So people have to ensure they have high quality images when using these online PDF OCR tools, otherwise accuracy will be adversely impacted. Here are the 2 online options for you to OCR a PDF, which give good results than the other online sites in our test.

#1 LEADTOOLS OCR Application

It is a free Mac program to OCR PDF and image files, you can recognize the file one page by one page, or recognize the whole document at one time, and export files as PDF, RTF, LTD, TXT, DOCX, SVG, XML, HTML, EPUB or MOB format. This PDF OCR program will display both original file and recognized text on the same interface, for you to check the real-time OCR result. However, the OCR result is quite poor at rending images and keeping formatting. 


  1. OCR PDF and Image;
  2. Recognize multiple-page PDF;
  3. Export files as 10 formats;


  1. Cannot render images and keep formatting in the OCRed output file;
  2. There are PDF OCR errors and need manual corrections;
  3. Doesn’t support batch OCR PDF on Mac;
  4. Take time to process PDF OCR;

Steps to OCR A PDF on Mac Free with LEADTOOLS

  1. Download and install LEADTOOLS OCR Application on your Mac;
  2. Click Open Document to upload PDF file, choose page range;ocr pdf mac free01
  3. Click Recognize to OCR PDF on Mac for Free;ocr pdf mac free02
  4. Click Save button and choose output format to save the PDF OCR result. ocr pdf mac free03

#2 allows you to convert scanned PDF and images into editable Word, Text and Excel. Though there are some OCR errors, this free OCR PDF service can keep original layout and images quality in the output. Moreover, this free Online OCR service supports 46 recognition languages. To use this tool, your files must not exceed 15mb.


  1. OCR PDF and Images;
  2. Support OCR 46 languages;
  3. File size limit: 15MB;


  1. Potential risk of information leakage;
  2. Need manually adjust the OCR errors;
  3. Take time to process PDF OCR;

Steps to OCR PDF on Mac for Free with OnlineOCR

  1. Go to Online OCR;
  2. Click "Select file" to upload your scanned PDF;
  3. Choose file language;
  4. Select output as Word or other supported format;
  5. Click "Convert" to start OCR on PDF;
  6. Download the putput file and check the OCR result.

#3 Convertio OCR

Convertio OCR is another free web-based OCR service to OCR PDF. It can recognize text from PDF, GIF, BMP, JPEG, TIFF and other images. You can upload your PDF file for OCR from computer, Google Drive, Dropbox or via URL. Its bilingual-OCR support allows recognizing files composed of 2 different languages. 


  1. OCR PDF and Image;
  2. Batch OCR;
  3. Support 50+ languages;
  4. Export files as 11 formats;


  1. Potential risk of information leakage;
  2. Need manually adjust the OCR errors;
  3. Take time to process PDF OCR;
  4. Only 10 pages for free PDF OCR;

Steps to OCR PDF on Mac for Free with Convertio

  1. Go to Convertio OCR;
  2. Click "Choose File" to upload files;convertio ocr 01
  3. Choose file language and select output format;
  4. Click "Recognize" to do OCR on PDF;convertio ocr02
  5. Download recognized file and check the OCR result;


Things You Need to Know about OCR Mac?

What Does OCR Stand For?

OCR (Optical Character Recognition), it is the mechanical or electronic translation of scanned images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. It is widely used to convert books and documents into electronic files, to computerize a record-keeping system in an office, or to publish the text on a website.Without OCR, or to be specific, without Mac OCR software, the scanned PDF cannot be recognized by comuper, hence not allow you to edit or search.

Though there are some free tools coming with MacOS for users to deal with PDF files, like Preview and Automator, mac ocr service is not availble.

Can Preview OCR A PDF on Mac?


Preview can help view and manage and edit PDF files on mac, but the editing feature is only limited to native PDFs. Though you can surely open scanned pdf in Preview, it is displayed as image files, no changes can be done to the file, including but not limited to copy text, search text, annotate, highlight, etc.

Can Automator OCR PDF on Mac? 


Many mac users may use Automator to extract text from PDF, but still, this can only be workable for native PDF. You just get blank text file when trying to extracting text from scanned pdf using Automator.

Can Adobe Reader OCR PDF on Mac?


Some mac users may have installed Adobe Reader on their mac to view and manipulate PDFs since it is free and easy to view PDFs. However, it Adobe Reader cannot work to do OCR on mac, unless you update to or subscribe its Adobe Acrobat for mac.

Final Words

So, which one will you choose to OCR a PDF on your mac and make your scanned files editable for futher use? There may be more choices out there, but the one well balancing funtionality, OCR performance and simplicity, in my opinion, is Cisdem PDF Converter OCR. For users who want to keep their paper work simply but efficient, it is worth a try.

Free Download

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6 Comments Leave a Reply

  • laura

    Online tool is not doing good, so many missed data and gaps, also you need to manually adjust the formatting quite a lot.

    4 years ago REPLY
  • giotopie

    My question is: Can Cisdem PDF Converter (for Mac) convert forms containing words, pictures and different styles into writable and editable Office Word, Excel and Power Point? Please elaborate. Thank.

    4 years ago REPLY
  • Rosa Reyes

    Thanks for your message! Yes, Cisdem PDF Converter OCR can do these all for you, with 100% keeping the original layouts of data, images, tables, text...

    4 years ago REPLY
  • Spire

    Thanks for the article.

    4 years ago REPLY
  • Danielle

    What about using OCR to change a scanned document into one that can be edited?

    5 years ago REPLY

    Although Cisdem PDFConverterOCR is cheaper than other OCR Mac software, it really did as well as Adobe Acrobat. Thanks for it save my money. Good application~~~

    5 years ago REPLY