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How to Convert Scanned PDF to Editable PDF with OCR - 3 Methods Explained

A scanned PDF is difficult to edit unless it is converted to an editable version. With the advancement of technology, it is no longer difficult to do the conversion. There are different tools and techniques to convert scanned PDFs to editable PDFs. Using OCR or optical character recognition is the most effective way to do the conversion. This is what this article focuses on. Continue reading.....

How to Convert Scanned PDF to Editable PDF with OCR on Windows

It is easy to convert scanned PDF to editable PDF on Windows using UPDF. This is an easy-to-use and versatile OCR tool, that supports 38 languages for recognition. The OCR feature offers consistency, accuracy, and the right security to guarantee the privacy and confidentiality of your information. This is what makes it a time-saver tool to use. To try UPDF for free, tap on the Free Download button below.

convert scanned pdf to editable pdf with updf

UPDF provides you the opportunity to convert scanned PDFs to editable PDFs with the help of its OCR tool. With multiple layout options available, UPDF provides the perfect platform with different parameters that can be easily followed and covered by the user in converting their document to editable PDFs. To understand how you can process the complete OCR tool on your Windows device with UPDF, look into the steps provided next:

Step 1: Select Document Type for OCR

You must open the PDF on UPDF for Windows and click on the "Recognize Text Using OCR" button on the right column. This opens a menu where you have to first define the "Document Type." Select "Searchable PDF" from the available options to continue converting your scanned PDF to an editable PDF.

scanned pdf to editable pdf with ocr

Step 2: Define the Layout To Use For OCR

Following this, you must set the "Layout" options according to the requirements. Here, you have three different layouts to select from the list.

  • Text and pictures only: This layout option converts the document into text and pictures, deleting all forms of transparent page images on the PDF. Using this form of layout might not keep the formatting of the PDF, while the size of the document is relatively less than the original.
  • Text over the page image: A transparent whole page image is present under the text, which means that the formatting of the PDF is kept intact. Although it makes the PDF editable for you, it also focuses on maintaining the appearance of the document.
  • Text under the page image: Although this layout form does not make a PDF editable, it does make it searchable. With a transparent whole-page image over the text, this helps you preserve a PDF document and archive the files for the future.
scan to editable pdf with setting layout

As you select any particular layout, you can also define the advanced layout settings from the "Gear" icon adjacent to the layout settings.

Step 3: Select the Language and Image Parameters

Proceed to set the "Document Language" from the 38 different options available in the list.

Next, you must define the "Image Resolution" from the options available in the drop-down menu. Those who are not clear about the resolution can select the "Detect Optimal Resolution" button for similar results.

ocr settings to convert scanned pdf to editable pdf

Step 4: Perform OCR to Convert Scanned PDF to Editable PDF

Work on the page range of the PDF document where you want to apply the OCR and click on "Perform OCR" to execute the process. Save the document by navigating to a proper location on the File Explorer and conclude the process.

After the OCR process is complete, the editable PDF file will be open in UPDF automatically. Now you can edit it easily by going to the "Edit PDF" mode. The screenshot below shows how well UPDF OCR works and how you can edit it easily.

scan to editable pdf

What are you waiting for? Get UPDF now to use this amazing feature!

How to OCR Scanned PDF to Editable PDF on Mac

Being a Mac user, you will always be confused about how to convert your scanned PDF document to editable formats. However, there are many PDF editors available for Mac, but they are not extensive in providing conversion features of this nature. Thus, you must consider something better that offers such in-depth functions.

The good news is that UPDF is also compatible with Mac, and the OCR feature is available on the Mac website package with the Apple chip. The instructions are the same as the Windows version. Look into the steps to convert a scanned PDF into an editable PDF on Mac properly:

Step 1. Start UPDF and open your PDF document that is to be converted. Proceed to the "Recognize Text Using OCR" function on the right and open a menu.

Step 2. You must select "Searchable PDF" from the Document Type section and set the parameters for the OCR function.

Step 3. Set the layout, document language, image resolution, and page range.

  • Define the "Layout" settings of the OCR tool by selecting any of the three layout forms from the list. For setting the advanced layout options, use the "Gear" icon and checkmark any option you find appropriate for this task.
  • Set the "Document Language" from any of the 38 options in the list according to the document that is to be scanned.
  • For the "Image Resolution" settings, you will have to work on it by selecting any value as appropriate. However, if you are not sure about it, click on "Automatic" and proceed.
  • Set the page range for applying the OCR function on the PDF.

Step 4. Click "Perform OCR". You will have to save the document in the desired location and proceed to convert the PDF.

convert scanned pdf to editable pdf mac

UPDF is not only a tool with OCR features, it has many other PDF editing features, you can watch the below video to learn more.

How to Convert Scanned PDF to Editable PDF Online

Can you convert a scanned PDF to an editable format? Yes, there are a few online OCR tools available and let's try them and see the results now!

OnlineOCR is a famous online OCR tool, and it offers services to convert a scanned PDF into an editable Word, XLSX, and TXT document.

Instruction: Click the "SELECT FILE..." button to choose the scanned PDF document, select the language and output format, and click the "Convert" button. After a few minutes, you will see that it extracts the text from the scanned PDF. You can click the "Download Output File" button.

However, as you can see from the screenshot, this tool only supports three output formats and you can't keep it in an editable PDF format. And sometimes the conversion damages the original formatting and layout.

Comparing UPDF with Online OCR Solution

Now you may be a little confused about which method should you choose to convert your scanned PDF to editable PDF: UPDF the offline method or the online method? Don't worry, let's make a comparison to help you choose wisely.

MetricsUPDFOnline OCR
StabilityAs an offline solution, UPDF offers a stable performance to handle your PDF documents.To use this online tool, you will have to connect to the internet. Unstable internet will affect the output result and the experience.
AI-integrationYes, it offers a smart AI assistant to help you summarize, translate, and explain PDFs.No. It lacks the AI features.
Edit PDF
Annotate PDF
Organize PDF Pages
Print PDF
OCR Accuracy Rating4.94.0

After reading the comparison chart, you may be very clear that UPDF is the better choice by all means. It has more features than OnlineOCR to deal with all kinds of PDF problems. Comparing the stability and the OCR accuracy, UPDF is also the winner.

FAQs on Converting Scanned PDFs into Editable PDFs

1. How do I edit a PDF that is not editable?

If the PDF is not editable, then the PDF is an image-only PDF or a scanned PDF document. You need to use the OCR tool in UPDF first to recognize the text in the scanned PDF document, and then you will be able to edit it.

2. Why can't I edit a scanned PDF?

If you want to edit a scanned PDF, you need to use OCR technology. With the OCR technology, you can make all the text in the scanned PDF document editable. It can extract all the text from scanned PDFs or image-only PDFs.

3. Can I convert a PDF to an editable PDF?

Yes, you can convert a PDF to an editable PDF. Here are the steps to do it:

  1. Download UPDF on your Windows or Mac device.
  2. Open your scanned PDF with the application.
  3. Click the "Recognize Text Using OCR" icon on the right toolbar.
  4. Choose the layout, document language, page range, and other settings of OCR.
  5. Click the "Perform OCR" button and then you can save the editable PDF document to your computer.

4. Can scanned PDF be converted to editable Word?

Yes, a scanned PDF can be converted to an editable Word document. UPDF can help you with the "Export PDF" feature. Here are the steps:

  1. Open your scanned PDF document.
  2. Click the "Recognize Text Using OCR" icon on the right toolbar. Select "Searchable PDF" and then click "Perform OCR" to convert scanned PDF to editable PDF.
  3. Open the editable PDF and then click on "Export PDF". Choose "Word" as the output format.
  4. Click the "Export" button to begin the process.

5. Which is the Best Tool to Convert Scanned PDF to Editable PDF?

To get accurate results fast when you convert scanned PDFs to editable PDFs, UPDF is the best tool to use. It has a strong OCR conversion feature that allows you to get high-quality editable PDFs. No information is lost and the format is the same as the original scanned PDF. Try UPDF today from the below Download button.

Windows • macOS • iOS • Android 100% secure

6. How to Edit Scanned PDF in Word?

To edit scanned PDF in Word, you need to use UPDF OCR feature to help you convert scanned PDF into editable. First, open the scanned PDF with UPDF, click "OCR" and perform the OCR. When the editable scanned PDF open in the UPDF, you can click on the "Export PDF" and select the "Word" to convert scanned PDF to Word. Now, you can open the converted Word file and edit it.


Scanning PDFs is becoming more and more popular and convenient. However, many scanned PDFs cannot be edited, which will cause lots of trouble, such as being unable to edit, annotate, and modify, which is not very convenient. So it is very important to convert scanned PDF files into editable PDFs. The function of OCR can solve this problem. OCR can convert scanned PDF documents into editable and searchable PDF documents. So what software has OCR? Of course, it is UPDF. The easy-to-understand OCR function can quickly help you convert scanned PDF files into editable PDFs. Upgrade it to unlock all the premium benefits now!

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