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November 4, 2009 /How-To's /

Acrobat OCR: Make your scanned documents searchable

Please forgive any missing images or edits from our blog archives.

Though OCR was added in Acrobat a while back, we still see a lot of users who are pleasantly surprised when they get to know that Acrobat could also do OCR. This topic also gets a fair amount of coverage on Twitter and Blogworld. So we thought it might be a good idea to provide a quick overview of OCR in Acrobat 9. Read on if you are interested in knowing more on how to make a document searchable using Acrobat 9.

Users could make a document searchable using Acrobat in 2 different ways. Subsequent sections provide more details on each of these ways.

  1. During Scan process
  2. On an already scanned PDF/Image

OCR during Scan process itself

If you have a paper document, that you need to scan and also make searchable, you can use Acrobat to do both in a single step. Go to Taskbar Create >> PDF from Scanner and choose any of the 3 document presets (Black & White Document, Grayscale Document, Color Document). These 3 Presets have OCR option enabled by default so you can get a fully searchable scanned PDF in a single click.


To verify if the OCR option is enabled in the chosen preset, you can click on “Configure Presets” menu option (shown in the screenshot above Create >> PDF from Scanner >> Configure Presets). Choose the appropriate preset in Preset textbox, and verify if Make Searchable (Run OCR) checkbox is on. If it is not checked, check it, save the preset and then press Ok to close the Configure Presets dialog.


Click on Options (next to OCR checkbox) to view and change the OCR settings. Change the Primary OCR Language, if required and then choose the PDF Output Style from the following style options.


  • Searchable Image / Searchable Image (Exact): Use this option if you want to keep the scanned image, but still want the text to be searchable. In this case, Acrobat adds a hidden text layer on top of the image. This text is searchable using Acrobat or other desktop search engines.
  • ClearScan: This is a new option added in Acrobat 9. Use this option, if you want to keep the look of the document same but still want to convert the scanned image to text so as to reduce the file size. Rick Borstein has more details on Clearscan in his blog posting here.

Once the preset is saved after making changes to OCR option, place the paper in the scanner’s feeder, click on same preset from Create Taskbar (Create >> PDF from Scanner >>…), and you will get a scanned PDF which is fully searchable.

To verify if the OCR is successfully completed, and document is indeed searchable, you can try selecting text using the select tool in Acrobat. If text is selected, then OCR has completed successfully. You can also copy this text and paste it in other applications like Word, Notepad etc.


Tip for improving OCR accuracy during Scanning process

You can improve OCR accuracy while scanning by modifying the compression options under Optimization frame either in Configure Presets dialog or in Custom Scan dialog.


On clicking Options, you will get Optimization Options dialog. Change to Custom Settings, and under compression frame, choose Lossless compression for Color/GrayScale and CCITT Group 4 for Monochrome images. This will ensure that OCR gets to work on highest quality image thereby improving the OCR accuracy. This is especially useful in low resolution scans (<=150DPI).


If you do not want to use presets for scanning, and instead want to use your own scanning settings, you can also use Custom Scan option (Create >> PDF from Scanner >> Custom Scan), which will prompt you to provide all scan related settings and then proceed for scanning. Also note that this is the only option available for Scanning if you are using Acrobat Pro on a Mac (Create >> PDF from Scanner).

Check the OCR option here if you want your scanned PDF to be searchable.


OCR on already scanned PDFs/Images

If you already have a scanned PDF that you received from someone, and you want to make it searchable, you can do so by going to Document >> OCR Text Recognition >> Recognize Text using OCR.


Choose the pages that you want to OCR, click on edit to choose Primary OCR Language, and PDF Output Style, and then click OK and OK again to initiate the OCR process for currently open Scanned PDF.


Another Tip for Improving OCR accuracy if you have a scanned image in TIFF format

If you have a scanned image in an image format like TIFF, you can make this image searchable in Acrobat by first converting it into PDF and then running OCR. Before you convert this image into PDF, you should change the compression options that are used in converting this image to PDF. To do that, go to Edit > Preferences > Convert to PDF, select the image format (e.g. TIFF), click on Edit settings and then change the image compression options here.



  • For Monochrome, change the compression to either JBIG2 (Lossless) or CCITT G4
  • For Grayscale/Color, change to ZIP which is a lossless compression format.

After changing the compression settings for the image format, you can convert the image to PDF, either by dragging this image and dropping onto Acrobat or using Create PDF from File and then run OCR from Document menu as explained above.

This is a broad overview of how you can make your scanned documents searchable using Acrobat. Let us know if you have any questions.

Aman Deep Nagpal, Acrobat Product Manager

Categories: How-To's


  • By Bev Michaelis - 2:37 PM on November 3, 2009   Reply

    Hi Dave,
    A question for you:
    I often receive PDFs with mixed content – some pages scanned, others printed directly to PDF from the application. What is the easiest way to OCR without encountering the error message that a page has renderable text? I see that if I start the OCR process and I receive this message, I can check a box “Ignore future errors in this document.” I also notice there is a choice to “Find First OCR (or ALL OCR) Suspects.” Your thoughts?

    [Bev – There are 2 ways to handle this:
    1. The way you have mentioned, when you receive this message, check the box “Ignore future errors”. Then you won’t see this message again for the current document.
    2. Other way is to run OCR on Multiple files using either “Document > OCR Text Recognition > Recognize text in multiple files using OCR” or running OCR through Batch sequence on multiple files from “Advanced > Document Processing > Batch Processing”. In this case, OCR will run in un-attended mode, though you will still be shown a warning during the process. But OCR will not wait for your input and just proceed to the next page.
    Thanks for the question! – Aman]

  • By Mark Maby - 1:09 AM on November 11, 2009   Reply

    Hi Aman,
    I’m having trouble getting the OCR function to work. I have a PDF file of a scanned text with no security restriction. I run the OCR function as described. However, when I try to select, the select tool only offers me the choice of copying an image. Do you have any advice? I’m running version 8 of Acrobat Pro.

    [Mark – What does doing Ctrl+A (select all) give you? If that doesn’t help, try running OCR after changing the PDF output style from searchable image to other options, and then select the text again using select tool. – Aman]

  • By randy - 3:32 PM on November 24, 2009   Reply

    i have a document scanned (list of business people in my area). And i want to extract the email addresses out. When i do the search, i put “@” in the search box, and it then finds all the email addresses, but only highlights the part of the email addresses on the left side of the @ symbol, not the right. Any idea how to get it to find the entire email address so i can cut and paste it into an excel file?

  • By Paul Musselman - 10:48 AM on December 4, 2009   Reply

    Hi David,
    I am using Adobe Acrobat Professional 8. I am producing a PDF document from AutoCAD 2007. I am using TrueType fonts and have made sure that text is exported as text. I open it in Professional, choose Document->OCR Text Recognition->Recognize text using OCR. The settings are Primary OCR Language: English (US), PDF Output Style: Searchable Image, Downsample: Lowest (600 dpi). But when I click OK, I get the following message:
    Acrobat could not perform recognition (OCR) because:
    Unable to process the page because the Paper Capture recognition service experienced an error. (0)
    How do you create a searchable PDF document from AutoCAD? I have seen them and used them. Other documents automatically are from Word to Illustrator.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.

  • By Mitchell Juergens - 12:42 AM on January 4, 2010   Reply

    I have a large document that has just been converted to pdf. The document has mixed content. Some pages are in English and some are in Spanish. How do I get Adobe Acrobat 9 OCR to make the document search-able in both languages?

    [Mitchell – In Acrobat, English language is always recognized by default. You can set the OCR language as “Spanish”, and Acrobat will automatically recognize both languages. One word of caution though, you might experience lower OCR accuracy for English characters, as Acrobat will first assume the characters to be Spanish, and try to recognize them as such, only when it fails, it will move to English. Which means some noise in English characters might lead them to be recognized as Spanish characters. Other obvious option is to split them document into 2 parts and run OCR on them separately (Keeping the OCR language as English and Spanish respectively). – Aman]

  • By Mitchell - 11:27 PM on January 7, 2010   Reply

    Thanks for the tip.

  • By John Gibson - 7:20 AM on January 29, 2010   Reply

    I have Acrobat 9.0 Standard. When I try to copy ancient Greek texts and paste them into Word 2007, they come out as gibberish. It is better when I set OCR for Greek, but, since it is modern Greek, it still does not work well. Is there any way to import an ancient Greek font into Acrobat and use it in the OCR?

  • By Aman Deep Nagpal - 12:17 AM on February 1, 2010   Reply

    Our OCR process is font agnostic. So currently there is no way to import an ancient Greek font info and leverage it during the OCR process.

  • By Roshan - 7:10 AM on February 1, 2010   Reply

    Dear Sir,
    I have a pdf 4 file i want to make in one
    how i can make it please suggest me immediatly
    I will very thankful to u

  • By Kevin - 10:50 AM on February 1, 2010   Reply

    I have a document that contains both English, and Hebrew characters. I am of course able to run OCR in English to capture the English and again in Hebrew to capture the Hebrew but is there anyway to create a single document with both the proper English and Hebrew characters? An instance of OCR both Hebrew and English, or specific areas (not full pages but parts of pages) that are set to be recognized as Hebrew characters?
    Thank you very much in advance for your help.
    I am using Acrobat 9.3 Pro

  • By Mel - 2:42 PM on February 13, 2010   Reply

    I recently got a pdf file and they are all scanned academic articles, which means I am unable to use the search toolbars. My adobe doesn’t have OCR. I’ve followed the step by step guide but when I click on ‘documents’ it doesn’t have ‘OCR’. How can I make my documents searchable??

    [Mel – You need the full version of Adobe Acrobat to OCR a document, not the free Adobe Reader. If you have Acrobat 9, you’ll find OCR under “Document > OCR”. If you have an earlier version of Acrobat, OCR may be located somewhere slightly different or called something slightly different. – Dave]

  • By Josh - 12:43 PM on February 22, 2010   Reply

    I have Adobe Acrobat 9 installed but the OCR won’t work, the drop down menu shown on “OCR on already scanned PDFs/Images” doesn’t show on mine no matter what file i’m looking at, PDF or JPEG, or what have you. I get the options of “Find First OCR Suspect” or “Find All OCR suspects”, and that is all. None of what is shown there. I’m confused.
    Did I not install the right options I’m not wanting all the features installed on my computer, just creating PDF’s and to be able to OCR, and I know I can reinstall it to add on the right thing, but I don’t know what that would be. Can someone help me on this?
    Thank you

  • By HJBoitel - 11:37 AM on February 25, 2010   Reply

    Under the OCR menu, Acrobat 9 includes the options “Find First OCR Suspect” and “Find all OCR suspects”. These appear to be intended for correcting background text following OCR. I have attempted to activate these functions on several different computers, and, regardless of the length of the document, Acrobat almost immediately reports that there are no suspects.
    When OCR results in background text, one cannot tell whether words in have been accurately interpreted by simply looking at the results, since one is actually looking at a graphic in the foreground.
    The pitfall is that it would be a mistake to assume that the OCR has been fully accurate. In fact there may be many mistakes. Thus a search of the document might yield no results or, at least, omit some results that should have been reported.
    One way to check on the spelling is either to a) copy a page of text and paste it into a text editor. The text copied will be the background text. The text editor will display it and you can see, for example, that “good” has been interpreted as being “grad” or “godd”.
    We will ignore the “grad” because it is an actual word and only a context sensitive spelling/grammar checker would pick it up. On the other hand, “godd” is not a word and Acrobat should flag it as “suspect” and give you the capability of correcting it. Sort of like the way the MS Word spellchecker works. I have yet to find anyone who has been able to make this spell checking capability work within the context of Adobe OCR.
    The inability to correct OCR errors is a very big deficit in Acrobat 9. Efforts to get customer support on this have thus far been fruitless since the people I talk to are not previously aware of the problem.
    Please do not confuse OCR background text with text that has been derived from an electronic original text or word processing document.

  • By Aman Deep Nagpal - 5:31 PM on February 25, 2010   Reply

    It seems you have not chosen to install the OCR options while installing Acrobat.
    You can do the following to enable OCR:
    a. On Windows select “Change” against Acrobat in the add/remove programs dialog (Start menu -> Control Panel -> Add or Remove Programs).
    b. Select Modify in the setup dialog.
    c. Enable the custom setup option View Adobe PDF -> Paper Capture.

  • By Sushana - 10:31 AM on March 1, 2010   Reply

    I have couple pdf documents that i am trying to perform OCR on but when i try to do this on acrobat 8, an error comes up that says ” Acrobat cannot perform OCR on this page because this page contains renderable text”
    what should i do??

  • By Aman Deep Nagpal - 12:44 AM on March 2, 2010   Reply

    Acrobat OCR doesn’t run on a page where there is some text in addition to a scanned image. To work around this issue, try printing this page to Adobe PDF printer, with “Print as Image” checkbox enabled that can be accessed by clicking on on Advanced button.
    After doing this, try running OCR again, it should work this time.

  • By Gary - 5:16 PM on April 22, 2010   Reply

    I am having this same issue and just went ahead and modified the installation following this instructions as best I could in Windows 7. It took it 75 minutes to reinstall and when it was finished the same thing still happens. Namely you ask it to find OCR suspects and it finds none. If you copy and paste from the document however most of the words are gibberish.

  • By Aman Deep Nagpal - 6:26 AM on April 23, 2010   Reply

    We have verified this issue and we will take a look at it.

  • By Gary - 6:10 PM on April 27, 2010   Reply

    Any update on when this issue might be resolved?

  • By Beth - 11:59 AM on May 14, 2010   Reply

    I am also interested in knowing when this issue will be fixed.

  • By Jim - 4:20 PM on June 1, 2010   Reply

    Can you use Adobe OCR for converting scanned images into a Word document?

    [Jim – Sure. 1) Open image file with Acrobat. Your image file will be converted to PDF. 2) Run OCR in Acrobat. You will now have a text-search-able PDF. 3) Save PDF as Word. OR, you can use Acrobat’s “Create PDF > From Scanner” which will do Steps 1) and 2) at once. – Dave]

  • By Sara Anne - 6:46 AM on June 9, 2010   Reply

    After I saved a scanned document to a folder, I saved it again and ran OCR but then the size of the document went from 4MB to 29MB! I tried to reduce the size but without any luck. This seems to be a recent development. Is there anything that I can do to reduce the size of the documents in which I run OCR? I use Adobe Professional 9.

  • By David Pollard - 8:32 AM on June 29, 2010   Reply

    I have Acrobat 7 which has a tab “recognise text using OCR”. I have an HP Deskjet 1050 which seems not to have a scanner. Can I use Acrobat to do a scan and, if so, how?

  • By John von Reyn - 12:06 PM on June 30, 2010   Reply

    We are using Adobe 9 and are scanning paper documents and trying to save them as searchable scanned documents in PDF/A format, but have been unsuccessful to far. The “Custom Scan” dialog box has a check box for “Make PDF/A Compliant” which we checked, but still will not allow us to save it in PDF/A. Any suggestions or is it not possible to save searchable scanned documents in PDF/A?

  • By Roy - 8:14 PM on August 15, 2010   Reply

    I have Pro v 9. I want to only run OCR on a selected area of a document. As I am scanning legal documents, I want to extract specific text but the extrenous pleading characters such as ) of } are interfering with a smooth process. If I could select an area of a .pdf page and run the OCR only in the selected area, this would save me quite a bit of time. Am I missing something?

  • By Barb - 12:24 PM on September 13, 2010   Reply

    I have Adobe Reader 9, I use to be able to OCR the documents I either scanned to pdf or received from others. I can no longer find the command. i followed the instructions on this web page the command is not there.

  • By Neal - 5:39 PM on September 22, 2010   Reply

    I can’t get the OCR function to work. I need to convert text only (i.e. typrd words) in a scanned PDF image only document so that I can change the wording. I am using version 7. I have followed the Document>OCR command and it goes through the process of saying that it is converting but what happens next? The doc on the screen can’t be amended. I tried doing this process and saving the seemingly converted document as txt, rich, and word etc but with no luck. Help!!!!

  • By chenda - 9:46 PM on October 5, 2010   Reply

    for Khmer Language (Khmer Unicode), from PDF to Word not correctly rendered.
    Is there any body know the problem? and what requirements need?

  • By Eve McGreevy - 10:17 AM on October 12, 2010   Reply

    I’m replacing a page within a document the replacement page has a text box inserted but after i insert the page into the document the text within the text box is no longer visible?

  • By Denise - 11:12 AM on October 23, 2010   Reply

    I have a pdf document, not sure how it was created. When I run the OCR command, certain pages have a “double image” effect, where there are two lines of text for each original line. I can solve the problem by converting the pages to a tiff file, then converting them back to pdf and then performing the OCR. Any information on what causes this, or can I can resolve without the extra step of converting to tiff?

  • By Paul Blelloch - 7:11 PM on October 26, 2010   Reply

    My version of Adobe Reader 9.4 doesn’t seem to have an OCR Text Recognition visible. Do I need to do anything to activate this?

  • By morad elsana - 8:30 AM on January 6, 2011   Reply

    how to add Hebrew to OCR text recognition in adobe acrobat 8 professional?

    I have a document in Hebrew that i want to run OCR text recognition on it.
    the problem is when I open OCR text Recognition to set the language I could not find Hebrew.
    Is there a way to add it?
    Thanks for your help

    • By Adobe Acrobat - 4:27 PM on January 7, 2011   Reply

      [For OCR, we started supporting Hebrew language only from version 9 onwards.]

  • By Anthony - 7:18 PM on April 27, 2011   Reply

    Hi Aman!

    Thanks for the explanations.

    Sorry but where is the “document” menu? I only have *File *Edit *View *Window *Help and when I type OCR in the help search bar it gives no results…

    I can’t see the illustrations but it sounds quite simple to apply OCR, the problem is I can’t find where is the menu…

    Thanks for helping, it’s quite urgent! Thank you very much in advance!

    • By Adobe - 11:49 AM on April 28, 2011   Reply

      Hi Anthony,

      The Document menu has been replaced in other ways. Specifically, clicking ‘Tools’ in the right-panel will allow you to access all of the functionality that used to be present under the ‘Document’ menu.

  • By Michal - 6:37 AM on November 27, 2011   Reply

    Hi all,
    I might appear stupid but … I went to Document = Recogniye Using OCR, Adobe ran the analysis and the task and that was it … I used to work with ABBYY FineReader and I immediately got a .doc version of the recognized text. But there is no such thing in Adobe … So what are the next steps after having performed OCR? There is no mention about the final .doc in the Help files :-/. Thanks!

  • By Rhys - 6:19 AM on December 9, 2011   Reply

    I continue to have issues with renderable text during OCR even though I have Adobe Acrobat 9 full. Everything I can find in Adobe support says that this issue was fixed in Adobe version 8.1. Generally these PDFs have layers included with computer-generated text specifying confidentiality. Why am I unable to use OCR in these files?

  • By Chris - 7:56 AM on January 30, 2012   Reply

    Hi Aman,
    I’m frequently using the OCR function in Acrobat Pro (9.0.0) on scanned patent documents. These documents are a mix of two column text and full pages of figures. When the OCR is complete the quality is good, but the flow of the document is odd. It will often treat the right column as the first text of the page, cross between columns, and include the line numbers in any selection.
    Is there any way to improve on the OCR of patent documents?
    Many thanks,

    • By Adobe - 8:29 AM on January 31, 2012   Reply

      While none of the incremental releases put forth for Acrobat 9 Professional were targeted towards the OCR engine, Acrobat X Professional received a pretty substantial upgrade to its scanning engine and OCR capabilities. I’d recommend download and installing the trial of Acrobat X Professional to see if your results improve. A trial of Acrobat X Professional for Windows can be found here:

  • By Andy - 8:15 AM on February 7, 2012   Reply

    Hi ALL Experts here – Pls. help !!

    I have Acrobat 10 X Pro. So it has setup an Adobe PDF in my printers option. Whenever I am printin gfrom the Web (IE, Chrome etc.) it creates a PDF which we can share amongst the team. Or even from a Word doc etc. The initial web print is not OCRed but printed on PDF’s standard settings. The problem is that I have gone to some PDFs created from the web and to make them searcheable, when it OCRs them, the quality is pretty poor and the text is not accurately OCRed.
    I’m thinking the results would be better if I can add a setting of OCR to when it is actually creating the PDF (print to Adobe PDF printer from IE or Chrome or Word) – as all those sources .DOC or HTML have the text as discrete anyway??
    But I searched the Adobe PDF printer settings and cannot find that OCR option at the time of printing- pls. help ??

    • By Adobe - 2:29 PM on February 7, 2012   Reply

      If the source (web page, Word document, etc.) contains renderable text, the text in the PDF created from that source will also be renderable (selectable). Do you mind providing a sample of the web page you’re trying to convert to PDF? Thanks!

  • By TRT - 12:31 PM on February 23, 2012   Reply

    After installing Adobe X Pro, I have converted scanned documents using OCR. However, they are still not searchable for keywords within Windows. How can I make the documents searchable?

    • By Adobe - 9:49 AM on February 27, 2012   Reply

      Thanks for asking. You can find more information on this subject int his link: Thanks!

  • By Jason Browne - 9:03 AM on April 30, 2012   Reply

    Is there any reason a user would not be able to OCR an existing/scanned PDF using Acrobat on a Macintosh?

    • By Adobe - 6:21 PM on April 30, 2012   Reply

      Hi Jason, the platform should be entirely functional on a Mac. Please let us know if there’s anything we can follow up on here.

  • By Charles - 9:06 AM on May 29, 2012   Reply

    If an already scanned file has the OCR function performed on it, will the file now be searchable or will it only be searchable in Acrobat? For example, would it be searchable on Adobe Reader on a different computer?

    • By Adobe - 1:23 PM on May 29, 2012   Reply

      If you OCR a PDF document and save that file, the PDF file will be searchable within both Acrobat and Adobe Reader, regardless of the computer it’s being viewed on. If you save that OCR’d document from Acrobat as Word document or Excel file, that content should be searchable within those applications too.

  • By Abd Jalil - 12:07 AM on June 22, 2012   Reply

    I always receive a drawing in pdf (autocad dwg) with so many layers. My problem is when i tried to use OCR, the words generated is blur and cannot recognized at all. I would like to attach the dwg (if necessary) but there is no attachment button here.

    please help me.


    • By ___________________________________________ - 3:49 PM on June 22, 2012   Reply

      Hi Jalil, Try flattening your layers with from the Layers pane before OCRing your document. You may get some better results! You could also try the steps mentioned in the 4th post here:

  • By Simon - 3:50 PM on July 13, 2012   Reply

    I am using Acrobat 10 Pro and try to convert to Word Hebrew PDF documents. The problem encountered is that even though in Recognize is set to Hebrew, Acrobat convert from left to right. I would appreciate any help to have Acrobat convert from right to left. I saw there might be a middle eastern option, but I am not sure.
    Thanks in advance

    • By ___________________________________________ - 6:16 PM on July 16, 2012   Reply

      Hi Simon. Thanks for reaching out. Please check this thread on the Acrobat forums for information on this issue:

  • By Joyce - 5:44 AM on September 18, 2012   Reply

    I am using Acrobat 9 Pro and trying to do OCR on a scanned document. I get the following message: Acrobat could not perform recognition (OCR) on this page because this page has graphics other than images or text on it. It cannot be captured.
    Is there anything I can do to make this a searchable document?

    • By ___________________________________________ - 5:59 PM on September 18, 2012   Reply

      Hi Joyce, Your document already has renderable text somewhere in it. You may want to try printing the document, then scanning it to PDF again. At that point, all of the document’s pages will be images once more and you can OCR the file.

      • By Joyce - 6:42 AM on September 19, 2012   Reply

        Thanks! That worked. When I saved the file to Word format so the user could edit it, the formatting was terrible. I used “Searchable image (exact)” in the OCR settings. Would it look better if I used “Clear scan”?

  • By Adnan - 11:09 PM on December 17, 2012   Reply

    Is there any option to add ‘BANGLA’ as primary OCR language in Adobe acrobat X pro? please help.

  • By Susan - 11:20 AM on January 17, 2013   Reply

    Is there a way to run a batch to see what documents in your group have not already been run through OCR? I have a large batch of documents and I would like to narrow down which ones need to be OCR’d so that I don’t have to waste time on documents that are already done. Please tell me there is a way? I am using adobe 9.0

  • By Simon - 2:27 PM on March 10, 2013   Reply

    It’s a shame that the language options when performing OCR are not more flexible. One common problem I face is when OCRing English documents with Chinese characters in. If I select “English (US)” then the English is great, but the characters come out as gibberish. If I select “Chinese (Simplified)” or “Chinese (Traditional)” the recognition of the characters is excellent, but the English is a mess. The frustrating thing is that this is not a problem with the engine, and could be easily solved with configuration options.

    • By joiemikitson - 9:48 AM on March 11, 2013   Reply

      Hi Simon,
      Please fill out our Feature Request form. It’s the best way to communicate your requirements directly to the engineering team:

  • By Mark - 2:25 PM on April 6, 2013   Reply

    Your instructions for adding text to a scanned document state: “you can do so by going to Document >> OCR Text Recognition >> Recognize Text using OCR.”

    I have just downloaded Acrobat XI. It has no “Document” menu. It has menus called File, Edit, View, Window, and Help. That is all. None of the existing menus have OCR.

  • By David - 11:20 AM on May 11, 2013   Reply

    I have Scan Snap and as part of this have a version of Adobe Acrobat that lets me edit and manipulate PDFs. The OCR worked just fine for 1 1/2 years, however, yesterday the PDFs no longer allow me to select words and treat the entire PDF as an image after I run the OCR process. I am confused on why it just started doing this and how I can change it back?

    • By joiemikitson - 8:56 AM on May 13, 2013   Reply

      What version of Adobe Acrobat do you have installed? Do you know what else may have changed on your system?

  • By Janene - 4:45 PM on May 13, 2013   Reply

    I have clients trying to OCR pdf documents but keep coming up with “this page contains renderable text.” We place a watermark on each of the scanned pdf’s. Could this be the issue they are having? We are using Acrobat 8 Standard and our clients are using Acrobat X Pro. Do you have any advice?

  • By Michael - 11:35 AM on May 23, 2013   Reply

    I have a mac and am using Adobe Reader XI. There appears to be no option for OCR in any of the main menus. How do I get this option?

  • By Cheryn - 1:09 PM on June 7, 2013   Reply

    I use the highlight text tool a lot and I recently clicked the box to not show again for the OCR to run. Now I can’t get my highlight text shortcut to work unless I go to document- OCR Text Recongnition – recongnize text using OCR, is there a way to get it automatically scan the scanned document again with having to do the steps above?

    • By joiemikitson - 10:48 AM on June 10, 2013   Reply

      Hi Cheryn, could you try opening the Acrobat preferences via Edit > Preferences (Win) or Acrobat > Preferences (Mac) and choose ‘General.’ Click the ‘Reset All Warnings’ button. This should re-initiate the automatic check.

  • By resolvingconcerns - 4:51 PM on July 19, 2013   Reply

    My latest version of Acrobat reader does not HAVE a “Documents” menu, so this instruction for converting a scanned pdf to a searchable one isn’t possible w/ these instructions.

    • By joiemikitson - 11:13 AM on July 22, 2013   Reply

      Hi there. Which version of Acrobat do you have?

  • By Gary - 1:15 PM on July 23, 2013   Reply

    Converted a great many tiff files (1800) to PDF. When I OCR the batch, each document now has horizontal lines evenly spaced down the page (as though the original was done on lined paper). I have not found a way to batch fix and now have to address each document individually to remove the horizontal lines. What is the cause and how can this be avoided.

    • By joiemikitson - 11:51 AM on July 24, 2013   Reply

      We will get back to you as soon as we have an answer! Thank you for your patience. :)

  • By Harris Bokhari - 6:59 AM on August 8, 2013   Reply

    Great feature. Is there anyway of getting it to OCR automatically on start-up?

    We have a user who is partially sighted and this is something that they asked us.


    • By joiemikitson - 11:01 AM on August 8, 2013   Reply

      Have you tried setting up an Action to start OCR automatically? That may work for your user. Let us know how it goes. We’d like to help you do this. Please visit this forum link for info:

      • By Harris Bokhari - 8:40 AM on August 14, 2013   Reply

        Hi joiemikitson

        I set up an action but couldn’t see how to set it to run automatically.

        I will have a look at your link otherwise will revert back.


      • By Harris Bokhari - 8:46 AM on August 14, 2013   Reply

        Hi again joiemikitson

        I believe that’s what I had done previously. Can I just double-check….if I set the Action to work on the file that is open in Adobe…would that simply allow the action to run automatically on opening Adobe or would I have to run the specific action?


  • By Nicole - 8:58 AM on August 9, 2013   Reply

    Just wanted to thank you for this article. It gave me the exact information I needed to convince my boss to purchase Acrobat. I will bookmark this page for future use!

  • By Roy - 3:23 AM on August 16, 2013   Reply

    We are looking for a software that supports Japanese OCR. Our main requirement is to extract the Japanese letters in an editable format from JPEG (or any other image format). We need to translate the Japanese screenshot into English very frequently. Is the OCR supported by Adobe Acrobat Pro XI serve my purpose?

    • By joiemikitson - 12:48 PM on August 16, 2013   Reply

      So, ExportPDF will easily allow you to switch the language you’re trying to OCR in. Within Acrobat, I believe it’s necessary to have the Japanese version of the software installed to OCR a document w/ Japanese text.

  • By Harris Bokhari - 7:43 AM on August 20, 2013   Reply

    Hi again joiemikitson

    I’ve set this up as her the video but cannot see how I can set the action to automatically start when Adobe does.

    Is that possible?


  • By Jane Muller-Peterson - 3:25 PM on August 25, 2013   Reply

    I use Adobe Acrobat 9 and download court documents as PDFs. I combine pieces of a transcript and then OCR the merged PDFs. This has worked without a problem for 3 years. Now when I OCR the merged document, the text blurs and becomes illegible or very difficult to decipher. Does anyone know how to solve this problem?

  • By maria - 12:35 PM on August 27, 2013   Reply

    can adobe search “hand-written words” in block lettering? e.g. Smith or school

  • By anon - 9:26 PM on August 28, 2013   Reply
    is the correct url for Rick Borstein’s Clear Scan Article

  • By Katie - 11:54 AM on March 23, 2015   Reply

    I have Adobe 9 PRO, I used to be able to OCR but can no longer. It tells my the Paper Capture is not enables. I have modified the installation, but nothing has worked to get it working. HELP!!!

    • By Acrobat Team - 6:18 AM on March 24, 2015   Reply

      Hi Katie,

      There a a couple of things you can try. First, run the Repair command from under the Help menu. Or, logging into Acrobat using a different Windows account. If these don’t work then I would recommend uninstalling using the Acrobat Cleaner tool and then reinstalling: ^LK

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