3 Solutions to OCR PDF on Mac (Total 7 Methods)

2018-07-20 23:14:18 / Posted by Rosa Reyes to PDF Follow @ Rosa

PDFs provide a convenient way for sharing and sending documents to colleagues and customers. Yet when one scans a document directly to PDF, or scans and then converts it to PDF, the document will be transferred as a large image file, which makes pdf text not searchable, nor selectable — unless you convert the PDF files using a PDF OCR software. This article will share basic things you need to know about ocr on mac, together with 3 solutions (total 6 methods) to do pdf ocr on mac.

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.

Preview Can Not Do OCR on Scanned PDF

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.

Automator Can Not Help Extract Text from Scanned PDF 

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.

Adobe Reader for Mac Can Not Do OCR 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.

As we can see, there is no free ocr solutions on mac at all, we will have to resort to a pdf ocr software.


Best OCR for Mac Users

To OCR 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, an OCR program is powered with such an OCR engine to recognize scanned or image documents. With a powerful 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 and Image Files 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 or Image Files for OCR on Mac.
    Go to the interface of "Converter", import PDF or images into 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 mac.how 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 Alternative OCR Mac Programs

 For Users Looking for Advanced OCR Features

1) Adobe Acrobat (Price: From $12.99/month~$14.99/month)

Adobe Acrobat, 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

  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

2) ABBYY FineReader OCR Pro (Price: $ 119.99)

ABBYY FineReader OCR Pro 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

  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 PDF OCR, but these 2 OCR programs are always the top choice to consider for our mainstream users. It is quite understandable that the 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.


Free OCR Mac Solution to OCR PDF on Mac

Search Google, we can find there are several websites that can OCR a PDF on mac for free. Such OCR software can be used online and usually convert on page at a time. 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 two online options for you to OCR a PDF, which give good results than the other online sites in our test.


onlineocr.net allows you to convert scanned PDF and images (jpg, bmp) into editable Word, Text, Excel, output formats. And the generated documents keep the layout and images of the original file. Moreover, this free Online OCR service supports 46 recognition languages. To use this tool your files must not exceed 5mb.

Steps to OCR PDF on Mac for Free

  1. Click "Select file" to upload your scanned PDF;
  2. Choose file language;
  3. Select output as Word or other supported format;
  4. Click "Convert" to start OCR on PDF

Free Online OCR

Free online OCR is another free web-based OCR service to OCR PDF. It can extract text from PDF, GIF, BMP, JPEG, TIFF or PNG files. To get started, just add an image file and select an output format from DOC, PDF, TXT or RTF, and click "convert".

Steps to OCR PDF on Mac for Free

  1. Click "Choose File" to upload files;
  2. Choose output as Word, or other formats;
  3. Click "Convert" to do OCR on PDF.

ocr mac with free online ocr

Disadvantages of Using Online OCR:

  • Require extremely high on file resolution;
  • File quality lost;
  • Potential risk of information leakage;
  • Process slowly due to poor internet connection or large file size;


Mac OCR Open Source to OCR PDF on Mac

Though most of us tend to prefer a professional Mac OCR program, there are still some users looking for Mac OCR open source, especially those tech-savvy or coding-savvy users who think mac ocr open source brings better OCR results.

Here are 2 popular Mac OCR Open Source:

#1 Tesseract OCR

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux
  • Support languages: 100+
  • Where to get: https://github.com/tesseract-ocr

Tesseract is an open source OCR engine started in 1980s, and later sponsored by Google since 2006. Now, it has become one of the most accurate ocr open source and widely applied to optimize Google services.

Users can find the source on GitHub, a great platform allowing software builders to communicate and collaborate. 

#2 CuneiForm OCR

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux
  • Support languages: 20
  • Where to get: https://launchpad.net/cuneiform-linux

Cuneiform is an open source text recognition program working on printed files. It does a prominent job to recognize scanned files and supports batch OCR, but relatively poor on highly maintain table structure.

Though the open source is not frequently updated, even there is no any update for, years the Cuneiform team still work on this and users can expect to get something more.

Definitely, there will be more and more mac ocr open source come to us, but currently, a great part of users adhere to professional OCR programs, for following reasons:

  1. Mac OCR open source is not for everyone. Most of our users are not computer professionals, either want to get the OCR work done by doing everything ourselves.
  2. Mac OCR open source is, obviously, not the only way we get accurate OCR results. Professionals, such as Cisdem, Adobe, they are taking accurate OCR job to us, also, they does this for us.
  3. Mac OCR open source doesn’t give extended features, you may only allowed to make the files in text, but not to editable and well-formatted Word, Excel, Keynote, etc.

Final Words

So, which one will you choose to do ocr 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

Most Popular Downloads

PDF Converter for Mac

Convert PDF Files to Word, PowerPoint, HTML, EPUB, Text, RTFD, Keynote, Pages, etc. on Mac.

Learn More

PDF Compressor for Mac

Reduce PDF file size without losing any quality. perfect for uploading files to the web and through email.

Learn More

Hot Articles

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.

    3 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?

    4 years ago REPLY
  • rickbateman701@yahoo.com

    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~~~

    4 years ago REPLY