How to make a scanned PDF searchable PDF

We all deals with PDF documents. PDF is one of the most widely used format to store and share the written content. PDF format allows you to create and edit the text documents and provide an easy way to share them over the Internet. If you ever noticed, there are some PDFs that are editable, that is, you can select and copy the text inside them, while others are non-editable. For non editable PDF documents, you cannot perform function like copying and searching of text. Also, if you have created a PDF from scanned documents, you cannot search that PDF for specific text.

A scanned PDF document becomes much more useful when we can extract and manipulate the text in it. In order to make a PDF searchable and editable, you need some sort of Optical Character Recognition(OCR) software which can detect the text in the scanned document. In this post I will share a very simple and easy method to make a scanned PDF searchable. When you are dealing with large PDF documents, if you can copy and search the text, things become lot easier.

Make a scanned PDF searchable

  • In order to make a scanned document editable and searchable, you need the pro version of Adobe acrobat x or Adobe acrobat xi. If you do not want to buy the pro version of Adobe acrobat, you can try the trail version(for 30 days)which includes all the functionalities of the pro version. Go to the following link and choose the pro version of adobe acrobat xi.
Download link -
  • Once downloaded, install the software.
  • Now, open the scanned PDF(or clicked documents) with the newly installed pro version of Adobe acrobat.
  • If you have many scanned documents and want to make a single searchable PDF file, first you need to merge the individual documents. When you open the the Adobe, a dialogue box shows up which have a option to Combine Files into PDF. You can use this option to make a single PDF from multiple different files.

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make scanned PDF editable

  • When you first open a scanned PDF, you can notice that you cannot select the text. If you try to search for a word or sentence in the document, no search results found message is returned even if the document contains the searched text.

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  • In order to create a searchable PDF from the scanned document, open Tools option in the upper right corner. Under Tools, select Text Recognition and click the In This File option.

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  • A new Recognize Text window will open. Select PDF Output Style: Searchable Image and click OK.

make a scanned PDF searchable

  • The Adobe Acrobat will start processing the pages one by one. It will detect the text within scanned pages with the help of OCR. This process can take few minutes depending upon the size of the file.

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  • Once completed, you will notice that now you can select and copy the scanned text. Also the PDF document is now searchable. You can search for a word or sentence and it will return all the instances of that word/sentence.

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  • Save the document to retain the changes. Next time you open the document with any other PDF reader, it will remain searchable and editable.

There are some online searchable PDF converters, but I found Adobe acrobat best for converting scanned PDF to searchable PDF, especially, when you are working with a large document. Not only scanned documents, you can also use this method to convert other non editable PDF documents to  searchable and editable PDFs.

I tried to explained this tutorial in very detail and I hope it helps you. If you face any problem, you can always ask for help in the comment section.

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