How to Convert Scanned PDFs with OCR


Are you figuring out how to make PDF searchable? Worry not.

Now, you can easily search through any PDF file size without hassle. Learn how to convert PDF to text, editable Word, and make scanned PDF searchable.

Once a paper document is scanned into a PDF file, searching for text is something you cannot do. This is because the scanner captures pages as flat images. To deal with this issue, you need to convert scanned documents into a text-based format, and only a PDF Editor with the OCR functionality can do it.

Systweak PDF Editor is one such tool with the Perform OCR function and allows converting scanned PDF to searchable and selectable text. Below, we will explain how you can convert scanned text to Word with and without using the software.

What is OCR?

Optical Character Recognition (OCR), occasionally called text recognition, converts an image of text into machine-readable text format.  The technology also differentiates printed and handwritten text characters inside digital images of hard copies.

How to Convert Scanned PDFs with OCR?

If you have a scanned PDF and want to change it, you first need to convert scanned PDFs with OCR. The easiest way to do it is by using PDF editing software. However, if you don’t like using software, there are other ways too. Below, we explain the three best ways that will help convert scanned PDFs to text.

Method 1: Converting Scanned PDF to Text with OCR Using Systweak PDF Editor

The quickest way to convert scanned PDF into Word to make it searchable and selectable is to use Systweak PDF Editor. Its easy-to-use application allows PDF conversion, digital signing, security, OCR, and form-filling and helps perform other basic and advanced tasks. The streamlined interface and intuitive controls make working with PDFs fun. When the scanned copy of the paper document is opened in Systweak PDF Editor, the OCR plugin runs automatically in the background, giving the option to Perform OCR. That’s how the process starts.

1. Open the scanned PDF file using the Open PDF option or drag and drop the scanned PDF. Once opened in Systweak PDF Editor, a prompt asking to Perform OCR will be visible.

NoteIf you are using Systweak PDF for the first time to edit scanned PDF, click Tools > Perform OCR > wait for the components to download. Once that is done, relaunch Systweak PDF Editor and reopen the scanned PDF. You will now see the Perform OCR button. Click on it to proceed.

OCR componenet

2. To start the process, click Perform OCR.

perform OCR_SPE

3. Select page range, OCR option, convert mode,  language, and output folder from the following window, and click Perform OCR.

Perform OCR options

4. Wait for the process to finish.

OCR conversion


5. When done, depending on your selected OCR option, you can edit text or perform searching. To edit a PDF, click the Edit tab and select the preferred option to annotate, edit, and more.

Why Use Systweak PDF Editor? 

One of the reasons is that to perform the complete process explained above, you don’t need any tool other than Systweak PDF Editor. Also, using this productivity-improvement tool, you can go far beyond just performing OCR. With it, you can perform the following operations –

  • Text annotation.
  • Convert different formats.
  • Password-protected PDF.
  • Compress PDFs to reduce file size.
  • Split and Merge PDF.
  • Change orientation.
  • E-sign PDF.
  • Digitally sign PDF.
  • Mark the document for review.

Moreover, you don’t have to worry about data safety or security as it is an offline tool, and everything stays on your PC. 

Method 2: Converting Scanned PDFs  With  Online OCR Tool For Free

If you don’t want to download a tool or are outside and want to convert scanned PDFs to make some minor changes, you can try using an online PDF Editor. Go to the website >  upload the document for OCR conversion and follow the on-screen instructions, and you’re done in just a few clicks! Here are the steps you need to follow:

1. Go to the website and click the “Choose files” button or drop your file into the browser tab where the site is opened. Wait for the scanned PDF to upload.

PDF OCR_Online2. Select the language according to the document uploaded and the output file format.

Perform OCR_Online3. Click the “Start OCR” button and wait for the process to finish.

OCR_Online tool

4. You can now download, preview, merge, compress, split, edit, convert, and protect the converted file.PDF element

Read Also: Rearrange/Reorder Pages in a PDF File – A Quick Solution

Method 3: Convert PDF to Text Using Google OCR

Lastly, you can use Google OCR to convert scanned PDFs with OCR. This is an integrated feature of Google Drive. When a PDF is uploaded and accessed via a native application like Google Docs, the OCR component runs to “read” and convert the document into editable text.

To learn how to use it, follow the steps below:

1. Upload the scanned PDF to Google Drive. Click the “New” → “File upload” option.

Google Drive Upload

2. Click the three dots to access the Drive menu, and select “Open with Google Docs.”Open with Google Docs

3. Google Docs will now convert the scanned PDF into a text-based editable doc file.

Note : As Google Docs is neither a PDF reader nor an editor, the scanned file will first be converted using Google OCR. After that, you can edit or copy the information from the scanned PDF.

4. When done, you can download the file as a Word file or convert it into different formats, like PDF or Text, HTML, epub, etc. To do so, click the “File” menu, → “Download” option, → select the format in which you want it to be downloaded.

Convert PDF

Though this is a free way to convert scanned PDF to Word, it is not guaranteed to work. Also, even with the correct language settings configured, it cannot read the characters, making the process more time-consuming. If you want, you can try it, but then remember the chances of it being a success are less.

Convert Scanned PDF to Word

Above, we’ve discussed three ways to convert scanned PDF into Word and other formats. You can pick any at your convenience. However, if you want a less intensive and easy way to convert paper documents to Word, use Systweak PDF Editor. The tool not only helps convert scanned PDF to Word, but you can also perform other operations on a PDF. This means you can bid goodbye to the extra tools you used to edit PDFs.

Next Read : 

How to Password Protect PDF Documents 
How to Add a Blank Page to Existing PDF

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About The Author

Preeti Seth
Preeti Seth

A UX writer who loves explaining technical details in a clear, crisp, and concise manner. She loves writing about technical troubleshooting, How-To's, product reviews, etc. In her free time, she loves reading, meditating, and traveling.

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