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Guide on How to OCR a PDF on Mac (OS Sierra Included)

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 Mac OCR software. This article will share basic things you need to know about ocr on mac, together with several efficient ways to do pdf ocr on mac.

Things You Need to Know about OCR on Mac?

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.

automator to do ocr mac

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

Recommended Mac OCR Software to OCR PDF

Indeed, a mac ocr tool will save the time and efforts to make your scanned PDF editable. Here, basing on real tests and feedback from real users, we highly recommend 3 popular mac ocr software to serve your purpose.

Cisdem OCRWizard 4 (Price: $ 59.99)

Cisdem OCRWizard 4 is a PDF OCR tool designed specifically for the task, and it does it very well. This application allows you to convert any PDF, scanned documents, or image files (including the picture of business card) in over 40 languages into searchable and editable files. You simply need to load your PDF file, set the output format as PDF, RTFD, DOCX, DOC, XLSX, or PPTX, any supported formats you want to save as.

 how to OCR Documents Like PDFs on Mac with OCRWizard 4

Adobe Acrobat (Price: $ 108 - $ 299)

Adobe Acrobat has built-in OCR feature which can recognize text in any PDF or image file in dozens of languages. All you have to do is click the blue Tools button in the top right of the toolbar, select Recognize Text, then click the In This File button. Adobe gives the best result in all the tools we have tried.

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.


Tutorials: Steps to OCR a PDF on Mac

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

  1. Launch Cisdem PDF OCR Program for Mac.
    Download Cisdem OCRWizard 4 and then install it on Mac. Run it to start ocr a pdf on icon of cisdem ocr wizard
  2. Add PDF Files for OCR on Mac.
    Import PDF into the program by drag and drop PDF files, or click the "+" button.ocr a pdf on mac with cisdem 02 
  3. Prepare for OCR a PDF on Mac.
    By default, your uploaded file will be under the Preparation Mode, so you can manually adjust the file for more accurate result, especially in the case that you are working on scanned document or images with unreadable blurry pictures. Then, choose the OCR language, or tweak the settings according to manual and supported languages for a desirable result.ocr a pdf on mac with cisdem ocr wizard 03
  4. OCR a PDF on Mac.
    Click "Recognize” to select document type before OCR a PDF on mac. You will see every part of a loaded PDF or image marked with different color squares based on the content of each part.  Utilize the toolbars to customize your PDF OCR. ocr a pdf on mac with cisdem 04
  5. Export to Editable Formats to Finish PDF OCR on Mac Instantly.
    Click "Export" to save these files in supported editable formats as following. The mac ocr is done!ocr a pdf on mac with cisdem 05

Useful Tip 1:OCR and Share Business Card
If you want to perform OCR on Business Card, choose“Business Card” from the down list of “Recognize", the app will automatically create a contact and fill its fields with the information recognized from the business card. Update information in the fields if necessary. Click "Share" to add it to Mac Contacts or share it by Mail, Message and Airdrop, or export it as other formats.

OCR business card with OCRWizard 4

Useful Tip 2: Save the Project for Later Processing

OCRWizard enables you to save a project for your current editing work. When you try to close the app, it will pop up a dialog and ask you whether save the changes made to the “Untitled” document. You can click “Save” or go to File > Save a Project to save it for later processing.


Free Mac OCR Solutions

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 often 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 in our test give good results than the other online sites.

Free Online OCR allows you to convert scanned PDF and images (jpg, bmp) into editable Word, Text, Excel, output formats. And the generated documents keeps 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.

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".

ocr mac with free online ocr

So,which mac ocr solution do you choose to do ocr on your mac?

2017-05-04 22:24:29 / Posted by to OCR Software Mac Follow @ Rosa

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6 Responses

  • laura

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

    7 months 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.

    1 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...

    1 years ago REPLY
  • Spire

    Thanks for the article.

    1 years ago REPLY
  • Danielle

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

    1 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~~~

    1 years ago REPLY

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