How to Convert PDF Scans to Enable Text Highlighting Using OCR (With Video)

If you’ve ever been in the position where you are handed a printed document and asked to re-type the contents, you know what a maddening and time-consuming task it can be. But that’s reality and sometimes you just can’t get a copy of the original document. Or maybe you printed a document and forgot to save it and now need to make changes to it.

Luckily, there’s a simple solution that will allow you to convert a scanned document to a PDF that will allow text highlighting.

Adobe Acrobat Pro has a feature called OCR Text Recognition. OCR stands for optical text recognition and is the ability for a program to decipher text on a scanned document.  I’ll show you how to do this using a scan of a newspaper (so you know how well this really works—I’m not using a PDF document, I’m using an actual scan).

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So Here’s How to Use OCR:

Scan the document and open in Adobe Acrobat Pro. If you click on the document to try to highlight the text, you’ll notice it highlights the entire page as shown below.

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Click on Document > OCR Text Recognition > Recognize Text Using OCR as shown below.

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A message box will appear asking which pages to decipher. The default should be what you want, so click OK.

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A progress bar will appear at the bottom of the screen while Adobe Acrobat recognizes the text. This might take a few moments. When the analysis is done, you will now have a document in which you can highlight text!

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Keep in mind that this isn’t perfect and while it works really well for most documents, there may be times in which a document is not of a quality to be properly deciphered. However, this is a great feature and one I use quite often. It makes life so much easier and saves me from having to re-type documents, which is worth it every time!

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