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 But have you ever worked on a PDF not allowing you to search the PDF text, like scanned book, historical documents and newspapers, or academic references? Is there any solution to make image-only PDFs or scanned documents searchable again? Today, we are here to bring 6 solutions to you.
This article answers the question of what’s a searchable PDF, why some PDFs are not searchable and how to make a PDF searchable successfully. Many Adobe users are interested in this topic. Of course, even if you don’t want to use Adobe Acrobat, there are many free, paid, online and offline methods for Mac and Windows users to choose from.
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.
If your PDF is not searchable, it is much likely that the file is not originally generated from documents editors like Adobe, Microsoft Office, it is image-based, which means the text layer is filled with bitmap fonts. 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 PDF image text to be recognized, this is just OCR works for.
When dealing with PDF files, Adobe Acrobat comes across our minds first, it is always standing on the top of PDF solutions. However, not all of us have installed an Adobe, for one reason or another. Never mind, we can still make PDF text searchable without Adobe Acrobat for Mac and Windows users. Here we recommend 5 dedicated PDF OCR programs, both of them will surprise you with even better and more accurate results.
You can try Cisdem PDF Converter OCR, a professional PDF OCR Converter enabling users to convert native and scanned PDFs, even images into searchable PDF, to 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 multiple languages accurately.
Also, you can check the YouTube video tutorial to make your PDF searchable on Mac.
Also, here are 2 extra free tools recommended to make PDF text searchable online without any software. They are easy and free to use, but have some limits:
There are quite a lot of free OCR tools available online, such as onlineocr, freeonlineocr, newocr, freeocr, etc.. And my favorite is OCR2Edit, due to its good-quality conversion result and extended features to manage your files. As the name suggests, OCR2Edit focuses on text recognition, document conversion and OCR.
Google Docs, a part of Google office suite, is an online free tool to open and edit PDF or image easily, it builds in the OCR feature to recognize text from scanned PDF or images. In other words, it can make a PDF searchable for free too.
No one will turn down a free solution to fix his or her problems, at least, we all want to have a try before paying for an expert. To make PDF text searchable on Mac or Windows, we have offline options too. Here we will introduce 2 OCR software to make PDF text searchable offline line.
Kofax Power PDF is trusted by 10 million users to make PDF searchable, convert PDF to other formats, create intuitive forms, highlight and redact text, create eSign documents and more. Moreover, it create mobile version for iOS and Android platforms to read, annotate, sign, markup and share PDF everywhere.
Steps to Make a Scanned PDF Searchable with Kofax:
You can also try Foxit PDF Editor. It is a top-notch PDF tool to easily recognize and gather information across different devices, which builds in OCR capability to copy text from PDF or images and make it searchable. But its price is higher than the normal editors in the market. If you don’t mind or just want to try the trial version, here we go.
How to Make PDF Searchable in Foxit PDF Editor?
Click OK to apply the setting and save your OCRed PDF.
If you have installed Adobe Acrobat, you don’t have to bother yourself to find another tool for making PDF searchable. Adobe Acrobat offers OCR, it can auto detect a non-searchable PDF and convert it to a searchable one. Since Adobe offers both Mac and Windows versions, here we take Adobe for Mac as the demonstration.
If you need to perform Adobe OCR in other Adobe versions to make a PDF searchable, go to the details and try.
No ,you can not.
You are allowed to search PDF text in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, but if the original PDF file is not searchable, you cannot make it searchable in any Adobe reader. Adobe Acrobat reader can only open, view, fill & sign, comment and highlight, you have to pay for its Adobe Acrobat to get the OCR feature to make a PDF searchable.
|Cisdem PDFMaster||Yes||Excellent||Fast||Mac, Windows||$69.99/perpetual|
|Adobe Acrobat Pro DC||Yes||Excellent||Fast||Mac, Windows||$29.99/mo;
|Kofax Power PDF 5 Standard||Yes||Great||Relatively Fast||Windows||$129/perpetual|
|Foxit PDF Editor||Yes||Excellent||Relatively Fast||Mac, Windows||$16.33/mo
|OCR2Edit||For Premium users||Good||Medium||Online||Free|
No, you cannot.
You can search a word within PDF in Mac Preview by press Command+F, but if a PDF is not searchable in the first place, you won’t be able to make it searchable in Preview. Preview can open and view native or scanned PDF files, but there is no OCR capability in Preview to make an image (scanned) PDF text searchable. You have to apply OCR on the PDF file and make it searchable, then search PDF word in Preview.
It is not as difficult as you thought to make a PDF searchable if we find a tool. You may feel interested in making your PDFs searchable with free tools, but if you want to obtain accurate PDF text and maintain the original PDF formatting, a dedicated PDF OCR program would be the best option.
Jose specializes in reviews, how-to guides, top lists, etc. on PDF, data recovery and multi-media. On his spare time, he likes to travel or challenge some extreme sports.