Method to OCR a PDF on Mac

July 31, 2023 1.5K views

PDFs provide a convenient way for sharing documents, lots of people choose to save their files in PDF. Even when you scan a document, the files may be saved in PDF by default. But a scanned PDF or image PDF is just a large image file, in which the PDF text is not searchable, nor indexable — unless you perform OCR on the PDF file.

This article will introduce multiple solutions on how to OCR PDF on Mac with best PDF OCR apps supporting batch feature, or OCR PDF on Mac for free, all these solutions work on macOS latest Ventura and Monterey, or earlier versions. Also, there are some basics you need to know about PDF OCR on Mac.

Best PDF OCR Apps for Mac 2022 (Batch PDF OCR)

To OCR PDF documents on mac, we will need to apply the OCR technology, which helps to recognize texts from image-based files and turn them into digital, editable text that can be understood by your devices. While, a PDF OCR program is powered with such an OCR engine to recognize scanned or image documents. 

In fact, OCR is rarely accurate or affordable, but we have choice. Here, basing on affordability, simplicity and OCR performance, we recommend Cisdem PDF Converter OCR. It is a PDF OCR program designed to do virtually all kinds of document conversion with high quality results, highly compatible on macOS Ventura, Monterey and earlier versions.

Cisdem PDF Converter OCR Main Features

  • Convert native PDF to Word, PowerPoint, ePub, HTML, Text, Keynote, Pages, RTFD, Image and so on

  • Convert scanned PDF and image to searchable PDF, to editable Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Keynote, Pages, etc.

  • Preserve orignal file quality

  • Batch convert and OCR PDFs

  • Convert entire or part of the PDF file

  • Create PDF from Word, PowerPoint, image and other documents

  • Fast conversion speed

  • Highly compatible on all maOS versions

Steps to OCR PDF Files on Mac

  1. Launch Cisdem PDF OCR Program for Mac.
    Download Cisdem PDF Converter OCR and then install it on Mac. Run it to start OCR a PDF on mac.

  2. Add PDF Files for OCR on Mac.
    Go to the interface of "Converter", import PDF to the program by drag and drop PDF files, or click the "+" button. It supports batch OCR PDF on mac, you can add dozens of files at one time. 

  3. Tweak the "OCR PDF" settings
    Turn the OCR button ON, select language and page range. It can recognize 200+ languages and supports batch or partial conversion. Also, choose output as needed before starting OCR PDF on mac.

  4. Start OCR PDF on mac
    Click "Convert" to perform OCR on PDF files. The OCR process will finish within seconds, you can find the converted file in output folder. The PDF OCR is done!

Also, you can watch the tutorial video to do mac ocr now.

Alternative PDF OCR App for Mac: Adobe Acrobat

For users who are looking for advanced OCR features, Adobe Acrobat is worth a try.

Adobe Acrobat (Price: From $12.99/month~$14.99/month), since its creation, is always considered as the most powerful program to deal with PDFs, and its prominence apparently continues in PDF OCR. Besides, it is cross-platform allowing different users to benefit from this feature.

Speaking of its PDF OCR, Adobe Acrobat can automatically perform OCR on scanned files when exporting to an editable formats, but it also offers a set of tools to enhance the OCR performance, for example, capturing the file with mac camera to do ocr, choose pages to perform partial pdf ocr, copying recognized text with formatting, editing the PDF file after ocr directly. 

Undoubtedly, Adobe’s editing feature is the key persuading users into such a purchase. As we know, OCR is rarely perfect, even if there appears OCR errors, users can directly edit or rectify within Adobe, that’s quite convenient.

Steps to OCR PDF on Mac with Adobe

  1. Open PDF with Adobe Acrobat.

  2. Go to Tools> Enhance Scans, select "Enhance", you can choose to OCR all pages or current page, then all the PDF text is searchable and selectable, also you can right click on the text to choose "Edit Text" within the program.

  3. Finally, save the PDF file or go to Tools> Export as Word or other formats.

Part 2. How to OCR PDF on Mac Free (Freeware & Online)

To OCR a PDF on Mac for free, there are 2 workarounds, either using a piece of offline PDF OCR freeware or an online free PDF OCR tool.

Yet, we know that offline Mac OCR PDF application is seldom free, if one PDF OCR program is given for free, it must come with limited features, like LEADTOOLS OCR Application.

Also, when we search in Google, we can find there are several websites doing OCR on a PDF or an image on mac for free. However, many of them cannot handle images of poor quality. So people have to ensure they have high quality images when using these online PDF OCR tools, otherwise accuracy will be adversely impacted. Here we pick the best online option for you to OCR a PDF, which give good results than the other online sites in our test.

PDF OCR Freeware for Mac (LEADTOOLS)

It is a free Mac program to OCR PDF and image files, you can recognize the file one page by one page, or recognize the whole document at one time, and export files as PDF, RTF, LTD, TXT, DOCX, SVG, XML, HTML, EPUB or MOB format. This PDF OCR program will display both original file and recognized text on the same interface, for you to check the real-time OCR result. However, the OCR result is quite poor at rending images and keeping formatting. 


  1. OCR PDF and Image

  2. Recognize multiple-page PDF

  3. Export files as 10 formats


  1. Cannot render images and keep formatting in the OCRed output file

  2. There are PDF OCR errors and need manual corrections

  3. Doesn’t support batch OCR PDF on Mac

  4. Take time to process PDF OCR

Steps to OCR A PDF on Mac with Freeware LEADTOOLS

  1. Download and install LEADTOOLS OCR Application on your Mac.

  2. Click Open Document to upload PDF file, choose page range.

  1. Click Recognize to OCR PDF on Mac for Free.

  2. Click Save button and choose output format to save the PDF OCR result. 

Steps to OCR the PDF using WPS

Since PDFelement has the OCR feature, it is a good substitute for PDF Expert. PDFelement makes it easier to create editable PDF documents from scans and converted data. A highlighted notice bar will appear in your application when a file needs OCR to be editable. Follow these steps to complete the OCR process:

Step1: Start to Perform OCR

Open the scanned PDF file. Click on the button "Perform OCR" located within the notice bar. You can also go to "Tool" > "OCR Text Recognition" in the toolbar.

Step2: Set the Page Range

In the pop-up window, click the menu on the bottom left corner. Click the "Page Range" option and a new window will appear. In the new window, you can customize page range for OCR.

Step3: Select Language for OCR PDF on Mac

Once more, select "OCR Setting" from the menu in the bottom left corner of the screen. Choose "Document Language" and "Downsample To" in the new pop-up window.

You have the choice of selecting either "Editable Text" or "Searchable Text Image" OCR under the "Type" options. After OCR, the new PDF file will be searchable for those who choose "Searchable Text Image." You can either pick the text and immediately copy and paste it into another document, or you can search by pressing "Command + F."

The resulting document will be editable after the OCR process is complete if you selected "Editable Text." Now, you may modify text by selecting "Text" or export it to several file types by selecting "File" > "Export To."


How does OCR work on PDF?

OCR means optical character recognition, a technology that transforms printed documents into digital image files. It's a digital copy machine that uses automation to turn a scanned document into machine-readable PDF files you can edit and share.

What is OCR software for Mac?

What is OCR Software? OCR software makes it possible to recognize text in scanned documents and images, and convert it to searchable and editable format.

How WPS is Best Option?

To finalize One of the best PDF Expert OCR alternatives on Mac is the WPS office. It is available in 25 different languages, and thanks to its OCR technology, it can turn any scanned or paper-based document into a fully editable, searchable, and selectable PDF document.

But there are many other benefits to using WPS office as well. Here is a list of some of its most useful features:

  1. Smart editing tools that let you easily adjust the font size, font style, and font type.

  2. Create fillable forms from scratch or a pre-made template. The ability to create forms makes it easier for you to send documents to be digitally signed. One of the main advantages of PDF documents is transforming non-fillable forms made in Word and Excel into interactive and fillable PDF forms.

  3. Export data into Excel. You can extract PDF data from hundreds of forms into a single Excel sheet in a matter of seconds. You can also export data from Scanned PDFs, making it easier for archiving and analysis later on.

  4. Conversion is a basic feature of all PDF tools, but the WPS office takes it to the next level thanks to batch conversion. You can convert multiple files at once, split PDFs into smaller files, or extract a single page as needed.

  5. Use advanced annotation tools. You can add sticky notes, comments, text boxes, stamps, and more. You can also markup documents for review, and apply shapes and drawing tools to your PDF document.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.