How to OCR Documents in a PDF Portfolio

PDF Portfolios are increasingly being used by law firms and legal departments across many disciplines.

As a result, my email inbox receives questions such as this one which I received today from the law department of large US city:

We are curious as to whether it’s possible to OCR all documents within a PDF Portfolio?

Acrobat 9 allows you to run several operations across a PDF Portfolio including OCR.

What are PDF Portfolios?

A PDF Portfolio may be thought of as a digital container. This container can include PDF documents, Office docs, image formats and a lot more.

Once files are placed in a PDF Portfolio, they may be sorted and viewed various ways.

For more info, watch this short video or go to the Portfolio section of my blog.

Ideally, you’ll want to have Acrobat 9 Pro to OCR all the files in a PDF Portfolio, but you can use Acrobat 9 Standard, subject to the limitation I outline in the article.


Preferred Method to OCR all of the files in a PDF Portfolio using Acrobat Pro

To OCR all of the files in a PDF Portfolio using Acrobat Pro, follow these steps:

  1. Close the Portfolio file if it is currently open.
  2. Choose Advanced> Document Processing> Batch Processing
  3. Click the New Sequence button
  4. Give the sequence a name (e.g. Portfolio OCR Sequence)
  5. Click the Select Commands button
  6. The Edit Sequence window opens


    A) Select Recognize Text using OCR from the left
    B) Click the Add button
    C) Click OK

  7. Click OK again.

To run the Batch Sequence

  1. Open Acrobat, but close all open PDFs
  2. Choose Advanced> Document Processing> Batch Processing
    A) Select the sequence you created above
    B) Click the Run Sequence button

  3. A confirmation window appears. Click OK.

  4. Browse to find the Portfolio you wish to process and click the Select button.
  5. A Progress window will appear and your Portfolio will be processed.

What else can I do via Batch Sequences in a Portfolio?

There are many possibilities:

  • Add a header or footer on all documents in the Portfolio
  • Add a watermark on all documents in the Portfolio
  • Secure all the documents in a Portfolio with a password
  • Use the PDF Optimizer to reduce file size or change PDF version
  • Remove metadata

How to OCR all of the files in a Portfolio
using Acrobat 9 Standard

WARNING: The method below will convert any non-PDF documents (Word, Excel, TIFF) to PDF using this method. You won’t receive a warning about this . . .

If you have Acrobat Pro, I suggest you use the method in the section above which does not convert non-PDFs.

Follow these steps to convert to PDF and OCR all of the files in a Portfolio using Acrobat 9 Standard:

  1. Close the Portfolio file if it is currently open.
  2. Choose Document> OCR Text Recognition> Recognize text in multiple files using OCR . . .
  3. The Paper Capture Multiple Files window appears.
    A) Click the Add Files button and locate your portfolio
    B) Click OK

  4. The Output Options window appears. (You don’t need to make any changes here.) Click OK.

  5. The OCR Settings window opens. You can leave this as-is or change to your preferred settings. Click OK.

  6. A progress window appears which will also contain any warnings about files which could not be processed.

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