How to use Adobe Acrobat Pro’s character recognition to make a searchable PDF

If you’ve ever downloaded a scanned document, you know the frustration that comes with trying to search for specific words and phrases. If you want to quickly find text to read through — say, a certain explosive report that was just released as an unsearchable PDF — you can use Adobe Acrobat Pro’s optical character recognition to convert scanned documents into fully editable PDFs with searchable text.

 

Just open up your PDF in Adobe Acrobat, and click on the “Edit PDF” tool on the right-side menu. Depending on how big your file is, it might take a few minutes to fully convert the file. Once it’s done, you can hit Ctrl+F to search through the text. When you’re ready to export, you can go to File > Save As to save your new editable document.

 

You can go into settings under Scanned Documents on the right-hand menu for more options, like changing the OCR language, choosing system fonts, and making all the pages editable in one go.

 

Note that Adobe Acrobat is different from Adobe Reader, which is a free app that only lets you open and read PDFs. Depending on your Creative Cloud subscription, Adobe Acrobat might come bundled with your apps, or you can subscribe to the app for $14.99 a month for Windows and Macs. You can always try out its week-long free trial before you commit, though, so happy searching!

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