The PDF to Word conversion process is relatively simple, but that's only the case with editable PDFs where you can edit the text and other content in a regular PDF editor. But what about scanned PDFs that you can't edit normally in a tool like Adobe Acrobat? For that, you'll need PDF to Word OCR, which is essentially a conversion process that uses Optical Character Recognition to convert the PDF into an editable format before converting it into a .doc or .docx file that's editable in Microsoft Word.
So, what tools are available to convert PDF to Word with OCR? This article showcases the Top 10 PDF to Word OCR converters for desktop and online use and shares with you the pros and cons of using each application or online OCR PDF to Word converter. The most recommended tool is UPDF Converter.
- #1 UPDF Converter
- #2: Able2Extract Professional
- #3: Adobe Acrobat Pro DC
- #4: Nitro Pro
- #5: Cisdem
- #6: Free Online PDF to Word OCR Converter
- #7: 2PDF
- #8: Smallpdf
- #9: OnlineOCR.net
- #10: OCR2EDIT
We've segregated the main list into two groups: PDF to Word OCR free and paid tools for desktop, and online PDF to Word converters with OCR. Let's dive right in…
Desktop tools, of course, need to be installed on your PC or Mac, depending on what OS platforms they support. The first of these is UPDF Converter, which offers a Windows and a macOS version so you can use them across the two most popular desktop operating systems in the world.
UPDF Converter is a dedicated cross-platform PDF converter that converts PDF files into numerous editable formats. The PDF to Word OCR conversion is highly accurate and supports text recognition in more than 20 different languages, making it one of the most powerful and versatile tools in its category. Developed by Superace, UPDF Converter is a one-of-a-kind PDF conversion tool for Mac and PC. It offers highly accurate conversions, a flexible choice of output formats, and granular control over how the document layout is rendered in the output file. The batch process feature is especially useful when you have to get through massive PDF workflows in the course of your business day.
- Dedicated PDF converter with OCR function included to convert PDF to text
- Multiple output formats to choose from
- Converts PDFs to Office files, images, web formats, and archive files
- Easy-to-use interface with simple controls for a zero learning curve
- Fast and accurate conversion
- Converts password protected PDF to other formats
This pro-grade PDF utility is similar to UPDF Converter but it is a full-fledged PDF editor with various other features, among which are PDF editing, forms management, PDF signing, PDF security, and PDF creation. It is also available as an online utility but that version offers very basic conversion without any settings options or extras. The PRO version for desktop, however, is a powerful application that works with several languages and is quite accurate when it comes to recognizing text. The only downside is pricing, which can be prohibitive unless you're a professional PDF user who regularly handles heavy PDF workflows. For scanned PDF to Word conversion, however, UPDF is a better utility since it's specifically designed for conversion.
- Extensive PDF tool
- Accurate conversion quality
- Multi-language support
- Too many features if you only want PDF conversion
- No standard version available
No list of PDF tools is complete without the ubiquitous Acrobat, of course. The software is one of the most expensive PDF solutions around but it has features to match that kind of pricing. The features, in fact, are among the most comprehensive among PDF tools, with modules for editing, annotations, conversion, compression, security, organizing, comparing, and, of course, PDF to Word OCR conversion. Some people say the software is a little cluttered and hard to use, but it's mostly a question of getting the hang of the layout and where to find the features.
- Comprehensive PDF tool
- Powerful conversion engine
- Accurate OCR engine
- High pricing of Adobe products, in general
- Complex interface may confuse new users
- No free-forever version - free trial period only, after which it reverts to a PDF reader, annotation, and signing tool
#4: Nitro Pro
Nitro is another well-known name in the world of PDF. It is almost as expensive as Adobe's product but it matches it closely feature for feature. The OCR engine is incredibly accurate, and the conversion process is not too hard to follow. Of course, like Acrobat, there's no free-forever version but a subscription will unlock all its powerful features. Similar to Acrobat Pro DC, Nitro Pro will auto-detect scanned PDFs and automatically prompt you to perform OCR before exporting it as a Word document.
- Professional PDF utility with extensive features
- Cloud-integrated with the Nitro Productivity Suite
- Also offers online options for basic PDF tasks
- Expensive for a file conversion tool
- Not available for Mac
Cisdem has improved considerably over the years as a PDF utility for Mac. There's no Windows version but the Mac version is very versatile and the OCR is among the most accurate in its category. It includes batch conversions using OCR - similar to UPDF Converter - and you can convert scanned PDFs and image files to 16 different formats including searchable PDF, Microsoft files, Apple files, and so on.
- Excellent utility for Mac
- Full-featured OCR converter
- 16 output formats supported
- Expensive utility for conversion - $60 for a single-user license
- No version for Windows or Linux
Online PDF to Word OCR conversion solutions are great because there's nothing to download, no updates to keep checking for, and you can use it on any computer without having to install anything. However, some people consider online solutions to be inferior to desktop solutions because they expose documents to being hacked while being uploaded or downloaded over the Internet. This is especially true when using public Wi-Fi hotspots or someone else's computer because you have little control over the privacy of your documents. Nevertheless, these services are hugely popular because of the convenience they afford to their users. Let's look at some of the top online PDF to Word OCR converters. Some are free with limitations and others require registration or a subscription to use the OCR service.
The online version of Able2Extract is a simple scanned PDF to Word converter with free OCR. The interface is user-friendly and all it takes is a couple of steps to convert any non-editable PDF file into an editable Word document. However, there are several limitations when using this free utility that we've mentioned in the ‘Cons' section below. It doesn't use advanced OCR settings, as mentioned earlier, and it can only convert PDF to Word with OCR - it doesn't offer any other functionality that you might be looking for, such as conversion to other file types and so on.
- Easy to use with simple operations
- Free up to a certain limit
- Reasonably good conversion
- File limit of 50MB so it doesn't work with large files
- No batch conversion
- Word is the only output option when using the OCR conversion engine
- Only recognizes English characters - no support for non-English PDFs
2PDF gives you the option to convert scanned PDFs into Word, Excel, and Text files. The service is simple to use and has a fairly good OCR engine that supports multiple languages. However, unlike UPDF Converter, it won't automatically recognize the language - you'll need to use a different URL for each language. The platform also contains tools to compress and organize PDFs, and file management tools to split and merge PDFs, and rotate PDF pages.
- No need to register an account
- Simple interface
- Additional tools to convert PDF to and from other formats
- Limited to 10 pages
- No advanced OCR settings
Smallpdf offers a range of PDF services apart from PDF to Word conversion. The conversion service for normal editable PDFs is free but you'll need to have a Pro subscription to use the OCR module, which you'll see after uploading your PDF file. Nevertheless, it's an easy-to-use utility with a highly accurate OCR engine that works in multiple languages. It even works with handwritten text but the results won't be as accurate as when converting printed material on a scanned PDF into a Word file.
- Excellent conversion quality
- No limit on file size
- Convenient and simple UI
- No free PDF to Word OCR
- Other PDF services are limited to two tasks per day on the free plan
This is a relatively simple set of tools to convert PDF into a few different formats such as MS Office files and images. It's also simple to use and supports quite a few languages. The free limit is pretty generous as the platform allows you to convert 15 documents per hour, but each file size is limited to 15MB. If you're looking for reasonably good OCR accuracy, you may want to try this online PDF to Word OCR service.
- Simple operations
- Fairly good conversion quality
- Comes with an API option
- Supports OCR in multiple languages
- File size is limited to 15MB per file
- No batch conversion options available
- No advanced OCR settings
This online converter does both PDF to Word and PDF to Text using OCR technology. It's not entirely free but the free limit is quite sufficient as it allows you to convert up to 10 files at a time with a total limit of about 100MB. Upgrading unlocks all its features and is quite affordable; the paid option also increases the file size limit to 1GB with no limit on the number of files you can convert at a time.
- Works with scanned PDFs, images, and other scanned formats
- Free to use with limitations
- Affordable to upgrade
- No advanced OCR settings
Now that we've seen 5 of the best desktop tools for PDF to Word OCR conversion and 5 of the best online conversion services, it comes down to which one is the best solution for you. We recommend UPDF Converter, since you can work securely on your desktop without worrying about your private files being compromised. The software fully protects all uploaded documents with advanced encryption. Moreover, the interface is pretty slick and batch conversions are super-easy. Finally, the cost of the product is very reasonable considering how versatile it is. Whether you're a Windows or Mac user, UPDF Converter will be your best friend for all types of PDF conversion, supporting no less than 8 different output formats and over 20 different languages for OCR. Let's look at how the process works:
Step 1: Import the Scanned PDF
After launching the program, use the Add Files button or drop your document into the software interface to import it - you can add as many files as you like since there's virtually no limit
Step 2: Enable OCR and Settings
Click the vertical ellipsis (three vertical dots) and enable OCR in the panel on the right.
Modify the settings, such as language and page range.
If you have more than one document, you can click "Apply to All" to make the settings global.
Step 3: Choose the Output Format
Select the Word option and choose whether you want the output as flowing, continuous, or exact.
Tip: You can also choose PDF/A, which will convert it into a searchable PDF file that is suitable for archival purposes.
Step 4: Convert to Word
Click the "GO" button at the bottom to begin the conversion.
Once converted, the file will be displayed in an Explorer or Finder window.
And that's it! All it takes is four simple steps to get the job done, and you'll see that the PDF to Word OCR is as accurate as possible. The layouts, fonts, alignment, etc. will be preserved as close to the original as technologically possible.
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