How to Make PDF Searchable with/ without Adobe?

2018-04-16 21:16:35 / Posted by Jose Henline to PDF Follow @ Jose

How do you go directly to the parts that you want to review in a PDF? “Search” within the file, of course. But have you ever worked on a PDF not allowing you to search the content? Why you can’t search within some PDFs, how can you make PDF searchable with or without the help of Adobe? Here you will be revealed all about these.

About Searchable PDF

What is a searchable PDF?
A searchable PDF is the PDF file composed of 2 layers, image layer and text layer. There in the text layer saves the text content and users are allowed to search for or locate the keyword within the document. 

How to search a PDF on Mac?
According to different PDF viewers, the way to search word in PDF file may be different. 
In Preview, go to Edit>Find or press “Command+F” to search the content within the file;
In Adobe, press “Command+F”, input the keyword you want to search within the file.

Why a PDF cannot be searched?

why pdf can not be searched

In most cases, the reason why a PDF cannot be searched is concluded as, the file is not originally generated from documents editors like Adobe, Microsoft Office, it is image-based, which means the text content is saved as bitmap font. These fonts cannot be recognized, therefore the PDF tool cannot do the matching to locate the keywords.

Hence, to make a PDF searchable, you need to make the image text to be recognized within the file. This is just OCR works for.

Make PDF Searchable with Adobe Acrobat

When talking about PDF, it reminds us of Adobe, its creator. And positively, Adobe products offer a solution to make PDF searchable with its built-in OCR feature. While, for those don’t use an Adobe product, no need to worry, there are also non-Adobe solutions for you in the following part. Since Adobe offers both Mac and Windows versions, here we take Adobe for Mac as the demonstration:

  1. Open the scanned file in Adobe Acrobat (eg.Adobe Acrobat Pro DC).
    If the file is scanned PDF, open it in Adobe directly;
    If the file is an image, run Adobe first, then select “Create PDF” in the wizard, choose the image file and it will be imported into Adobe.import pdf to adobe mac
  2. Go to Tools>Enhance Scans>Recognize Text>In This File. Click Recognize Text and Adobe will start to process OCR on the document.recognize text with adobe
  3. Go to File>Save, you will find the PDF is searchable on mac.make pdf searchable with adobe 03

If you need to perform Adobe OCR  in other Adobe versions to make a PDF searchable, go to the details and try.

Make PDF Searchable without Adobe Acrobat (MacOS and Windows)

Of course, not all of us have installed an Adobe. Never mind, the non-Adobe solutions also surprise you with even better and more accurate results. Here we recommend 2 dedicated PDF OCR Converter.

For Users Who Want to Make PDF Searchable on Mac

You can try Cisdem PDF Converter OCR for Mac, a professional PDF OCR Converter enabling users to convert native and scanned PDFs, even images into searchable PDF, Word, Excel, PPT, Keynote, HTML, Keynote and so on. It supports batch making searchable PDFs from scanned files, keeping original file quality as well. There won't be any worry about formatting issue and image resolution occurring in the conversion. This powerful OCR PDF Converter can understand more than 200 languages accurately. 

Major Capabilities:

  • Make scanned PDF or images in searchable and editable formats(PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML, ePub, Keynote, Pages, Text, etc.);
  • Convert image files to another image format in batch(PNG to JPG, Tiff to JPG, etc.);
  • Work on encrypted PDFs;
  • Create PDF from Word, PowerPoint, CHM, ePub, HTML, etc;
  • Compress, merge and protect PDF output when creating PDFs within the program;

Let's Make PDF Searchable on Mac Now!

  1. Download the free trial of Cisdem PDF Converter OCR on its official website, install and launch it on your mac.
    Free Download
  2. Go to the "Converter", drag and Drop the scanned PDF into the interface, or just click “+” to add files.make pdf searchable on mac 01
  3. Turn OCR button ON, choose All Pages or fill Page Range. Select the language and output as PDF to make a searchable PDF from scanned PDFs on mac.make pdf searchable on mac 02
  4. Click “Convert” to start making searchable PDF on mac from scanned PDFs. Find the searchable PDF in output folder.

For Users Who Want to Make PDF Searchable on Windows

Readiris 16 for Windows converts any PDFs into searchable PDF, Word, Excel, ODT, ePub, Audio and image formats, with original layout preserved. It can connect with your scanned, directly scan the document to the program and make it searchable. Even, you can utilize this tool to manage PDF files, such as protect PDF, shrink PDF and organize PDF pages, etc.

Let’s make PDF searchable on Windows Now!

  1. Import PDF into the program. You can choose “Scan”, put the paper file in to the scanner that connects with this program, to import the digital copy directly. Also you can choose “From File” to import PDFs from your PC.make pdf searchable on windows 01
  2. Then choose the output as PDF, also select output folder, rename the file if needed.make pdf searchable on windows 02
  3. You will find the PDF is fully searchable now.make pdf searchable on windows 03

Adobe VS PDF OCR Converter

No doubt, working as the most powerful comprehensive tool to manage PDFs, Adobe stands far above PDF OCR Converter. But when talking about performing OCR on a scanned file, PDF OCR Converters do better than Adobe:

  Input  format  Accuracy Output Format Price
Adobe Acrobat PDF Accurate (manually adjust errors) PDF, Word, Text, HTML, Image, Excel US$14.99/Month
Cisdem PDF Converter OCR PDF and Image Highly accurate Editable PDF, RTFD, DOCX, DOC, XLSX, PPTX, HTML, TEXT,  EPUB, PAGES and KEYNOTE,Image US$49.99/Life Time
Readiris 16 for Windows PDF and Paper File from Scanner Highly accurate PDF, DOCX, XLSX, ODT, ePub, Audio, RTF, HTML, TXT, Image US99/Life Time

Make PDF Searchable Free

Still, you can make PDF searchable for free. There are 2 workarounds: performing ocr on pdf to make it in editable and searchable format (Word, etc.), or directly converting the PDF to searchable PDF. But before using these online free services, please take a second thought, because:

  • The processing may be stopped or slowed down due to unstable internet connection;
  • There are file size limit
  • Features are limited (input format, output format, toolbars to customize)
  • Conversion quality vary due to different files

If you feel OK with these cons of using online free service, go ahead to try following sulutions.

Make PDF Searchable with Online Free OCR Tools

There are quite a lot of free OCR tools available online, such as onlineocr, freeonlineocr, newocr, freeocr, etc.. And my favorite is online2pdf, due to its good-quality conversion result and extended features to manage your files.

It is easy to make PDF searchable with this free program:

  1. Click on “Select files” to upload files to the program. Batch uploading is supported;
  2. Choose output as Word or other format from menu “convert to”;
  3. Choose file language from “Optical character recognition in images (OCR)” for accurate OCR results;
  4. Click “Convert” to make PDF in searchable Word or other format;make pdf searchable online
  5. Optional. If you want to make a searchable PDF, open the Word output in MS Word, then export the file as PDF. You will also get a searchable PDF.

Make PDF Searchable Free with Google Drive

Google Drive is a free platform to help users manage files online, which is designed by Google. It also offers a free solution to make a PDF searchable.

  1. Login into your Google Account and go to Google Drive;
  2. Click New>File upload to import the PDF file into Google Drive;
  3. The uploaded PDF file will appear in the right panel, right click to open with Google Docs;
  4. A OCR is performed automatically on the PDF, you will find the PDF file can be edited and searched in Google Docs;
  5. Go to File>Download as>PDF. A searchable PDF is made for free.make pdf searchable google drive

What is your choice?

Just try before any commercial investment, and choose the one works for you.

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