OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. This is advanced technology that enables you to transform hard copy documents and images into editable digital files, or to extract data locked inside scanned PDFs into easy-to-edit file formats like Microsoft Word and Excel.
Software equipped with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) offers users the ability to work with data from scanned documents that are saved as digital file formats, especially PDF.
Optical character recognition scans image-based files looking for text and tries to recognize individual characters. Once visual clues inside the document are matched with any character in the underlying character database, OCR produces machine-encoded text that users can edit in word processors.
For example, an OCR program can transform a picture of an invoice into an editable invoice. It can save you time on manually retyping textual content from a PDF or an image file.
One more benefit of using OCR software is related to making paper documentation digitally searchable. Once all your scanned documents have been OCRed, you can easily search for a specific document or even a keyword across the whole set of documents.
OCR technology is getting more accurate every year thanks to AI algorithms and increased processing power of hardware and software tools. That’s why it is important to have the latest version at hand for the best OCR results possible.One more thing to take into consideration is language support. Advanced solutions have the ability to extract special characters for multiple languages whether they are phonograms (e.g. Latin alphabet) or logograms (e.g. Chinese characters).
If you want a free solution for turning scanned PDF content into digitally editable text, look no further than Investintech’s scanned PDF to Word OCR converter.
You can drag-and-drop a file into the conversion rectangle on this page to start the upload or simply click the rectangle to browse for a file on your computer you’d like to OCR. Once the upload is complete, the conversion will start automatically. Once finished, you will be able to download the Word file and start another conversion with no daily limits per user.
If you want to have more flexibility over your conversion and the range of output file formats available, try Able2Extract Professional that comes with a powerful OCR engine baked right in to provide you with a complete desktop PDF solution for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
You can choose to convert everything or just a portion of a document, extract special characters in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian languages. Make scanned PDFs searchable without conversion, and get the editable file into various file formats.
The best part - there’s no need to do anything manually! Able2Extract Pro recognizes a scanned (image-based) PDF when opened and performs OCR automatically. Just open a document and click on the file format of your choice, Able2Extract will do all the heavy lifting for you.
To accomplish this task you will need a software application with built-in OCR technology.
Here’s how to convert scanned PDF to editable PDF with Able2Extract Professional, a desktop PDF converter with OCR:
- Open a scanned PDF in Able2Extract
- Convert the PDF to any editable file format (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)
- Open the output file in its default application
- Select a Print option and choose the Able2Extract Professional printer
- Open the printed PDF in Able2Extract and start editing
Editing a scanned PDF (or any PDF for that matter) can mean at least three completely different tasks (both in terms of complexity and execution). Good news is, Able2Extract Professional can perform all of them on Mac.
Let us explain.
- Adding text, graphics, Bates numbering to a scanned PDF: If you just want to add some content to your scanned PDF, simply open the file and go to the Edit Document tab to gain access to features such as Add Text, Add Shape, Add Bitmap, and Add Bates Numbering.
- Editing scanned PDF pages: To delete or rearrange pages, insert blank ones, add pages from a separate PDF, or modify pages size and rotation, open a document and click on the Edit Document tab in the Main menu. Click on the corresponding icon to activate features such as Merge, Split, Insert Pages, Delete Pages, Move Pages, Rotate Pages, Resize Pages.
- Editing scanned PDF text: The most difficult task would be to edit textual content from image-based PDFs. As explained in the answer to the previous question, you can convert PDF to DOCX with OCR, and edit the content in Microsoft Word before printing the edited PDF with the Able2Extract Professional printer. You can also print the converted PDF without modifying it, and open it in Able2Extract Professional to edit the text just like you would in any word processor application (make sure the Edit Document tab is active).
Typing on a scanned PDF is possible with a desktop PDF solution such as Able2Extract Professional. Since a scanned PDF is basically an image of a document, typing on it will add a new layer containing text on top of the original image layer.
To type on a scanned PDF document with Able2Extract Professional:
- Open a scanned PDF in Able2Extract
- Go to the Edit Document tab
- Click on the Add Text button
- Place your mouse cursor anywhere on the document, left click, and start typing
Note: You can change properties of the added text in the right-side panel, such as the font, font size, color, outline, line spacing, etc.
First, you will need to extract content from a PDF to the editable file format compatible with Microsoft Word by using a software application with OCR technology.
To convert a scanned PDF to DOCX with Able2Extract Professional:
- Open a scanned document you’d like to edit in Word
- While in the Convert tab, look for a Word section in the right-side panel that will let you choose the Format (DOCX - Word 2007, RTF - Rich Text Format, ODT - OpenOffice Writer) and Formatting (Standard, Frames, Text Only)
- Click on the Word button under the Convert tab in the main toolbar
- Set a file name, choose location, and hit Save
Once the extraction is completed, just open the resulting document in Word and start editing as usual. Beats manual retyping every time!
Yes, you can. If you don’t want to pay for a scanned PDF to Word conversion, free online tools will do the job (such as the one on this page).
Keep in mind that:
- Free tools are not as accurate as the paid ones in most cases
- Free tools might have limitations when it comes to file size, number of conversions per day, etc.
- Since the conversion is taking place on a server, you’ll need to upload your file and download the resulting editable document
- Free tools can be overloaded at any given time, making the conversion much slower than with a dedicated desktop software application that has OCR
To conclude, free online tools can help you convert a scanned PDF to Word for free. However, if you are not comfortable with their limitations, you should look into a desktop PDF converter with OCR such as Able2Extract Professional.
There are two ways to make a scanned PDF searchable without Adobe® Acrobat®
- Convert a scanned PDF to a searchable file format using a free online tool with OCR
You can use the free online scanned PDF to Word OCR converter to convert your scanned PDF into a Word document on this page. Then, open the converted document in Word, press CTRL + F, and search for a word or phrase.
- Turn a scanned PDF into searchable one using a desktop PDF software (Able2Extract Professional)
The whole process is done in a few steps: simply open your PDF in Able2Extract and click on the Searchable PDF button on the main toolbar. Able2Extract Professional will automatically perform OCR on your scanned document making it searchable from inside the Able2Extract Pro interface (no output file). Use the search field in the footer toolbar to look for a word in a searchable PDF (you can also choose to make the search Whole Words Only and/or Case-sensitive).
The OCR engine in Able2Extract Pro supports recognition of 12 languages and its respective special characters: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, and Swedish.