How to Convert Scanned PDF to Word

How do you convert a scanned PDF to Word format to make it editable in Microsoft's software? Converting a scanned or non-editable PDF file requires a special process called OCR or optical character recognition. Once you've processed your document using OCR, you can proceed to convert the PDF into a Word file. There are a few different ways to do this, but in this article, we'll show you the two most effective and convenient ways to convert scanned PDF to Word online free as well as offline on Windows and Mac.

The Best Scanned PDF to Word Converter

With support for over 20 OCR languages, UPDF Converter is definitely one of the most versatile and powerful scanned PDF to Word conversion tools you'll find for Windows and Mac. Remember: converting a scanned document with OCR requires a great deal of accuracy, and UPDF Converter uses a powerful OCR engine for its conversions. The final output will be a Word document with the same layout and formatting as the original document. Some fonts might not translate accurately, especially if your scanned file has handwriting on it, but the content will be as close to the scanned copy as possible.

scanned pdf to word

Let's look at some of its key capabilities and how to use this comprehensive PDF conversion tool from Superace.

Key Features of UPDF Converter

  • Dedicated PDF conversion tool that supports many common output formats such as Word, Excel, PPT, image formats, HTML, XML, Text, and PDF/A
  • Accurate conversion of editable PDFs to other file formats
  • OCR function to convert scanned PDF to editable Word (DOCX) format
  • The format is kept consistent during conversions - minimal manual correction required
  • Convert files in batches or one at a time
  • Enterprise-grade security to protect your files
  • Simple process with zero learning curve

How to Convert Scanned PDF to Word with UPDF Converter

Step 1. Import the Scanned PDF document

Use the "Add Files" option to import your scanned PDF into the conversion queue.

convert scanned pdf to word

Click the three vertical dots next to the file name to open the OCR Settings panel.

convert scanned pdf to word online free

Step 2. Enable OCR and Specify your preferred OCR Settings

Toggle the button at the top of the panel to enable OCR.

Choose the language contained in the document. If you want to apply the same OCR settings for all the files in the queue, click "Apply to All".

scanned pdf to word converter

If you want to convert partial of the scanned PDF documents, you need to set the page range for conversion.

Step 3. Choose the output format

Close the OCR Settings panel by clicking the small x symbol on the top-right corner of the panel or on any blank space below your list of files.

convert scanned pdf to editable word

And then choose "Word" as the output format for the conversion.

Step 4. Convert Scanned PDF to Word

Finally, click the "GO" button at the bottom to convert the file.

scanned pdf to editable word

The DOCX file will be generated and saved to the folder you just selected, which will be displayed on your screen - you can now open it with MS Word for editing.

This is the best way to convert scanned PDF to Word free, but you can also upgrade to a paid plan to remove the trial version limitations. For a one-time fee of only $19.99 (introductory offer), you can get a perpetual license for UPDF Converter for Windows or Mac. That's very reasonable considering how expensive OCR tools can be.

How to Convert Scanned PDF to Word Online

Another way to convert scanned PDFs to editable Word documents is to use an online service. One of the good ones out there is The site is free to use and the OCR conversion is quite accurate. It's also simple to use: just upload your file, choose the OCR language and output file format, convert the file online, and save it to your desktop. A detailed process flow has been provided below for your convenience.

scanned pdf to word

Step 1: Upload your Scanned PDF File

Head to the website and click "Select File" to upload the scanned document.

Step 2: Choose the Language and Output Format

  • Select the appropriate language from the dropdown once your file is uploaded.
  • Set the output format to Word.

Step 3: Convert Scanned PDF to Word Online Free

Finally, click the "Convert" button and wait for the OCR process to be completed.

Once it's ready, you'll see a link to download the file, and you can also see a preview of the text content in the box below it.

Other Scanned PDF to Word Converter Tools and Services

There's a plethora of other software applications and web services you can use to convert scanned PDFs to Word and other formats. Some, such as Acrobat and Nitro require subscriptions beyond the free trial period, and there are also several online services you can try. Let's take a look at a few of them:

1. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Acrobat Pro DC comes with a very powerful OCR engine that's fast and accurate. The software is considered by many to be expensive, but to be fair, it comes with a lot of features to handle PDF and other document workflows. Nevertheless, as the leading provider of PDF solutions, no list of PDF tools is complete without Acrobat featuring in it.

The process is a little longer than that of the UPDF Converter. You will first need to use the OCR module to convert your scanned document into an editable PDF, and then export it in Word format.

Step 1: Open the file in Acrobat

Use File → Open to import the scanned PDF file into Acrobat.

Step 2: Click Edit PDF

This automatically activates OCR and converts the file into an editable PDF. The file is now an editable document but still in PDF format, so proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Export Scanned PDF as Word

In the right-side panel, click "Export PDF". Select Microsoft Word and then select Word Document. Click "Export" and choose between DOC and DOCX, then save the file to your desktop.

scanned pdf to word

Tip: You can use a shortcut by directly exporting to Word from Step 3. Acrobat recognizes any scanned text in the document and will automatically activate text recognition before converting the file into DOC or DOCX.

2. Nitro Pro

Another powerful PDF tool is Nitro Pro, which is part of the Nitro Productivity Suite comprising PDF and cloud collaboration tools. It's also considered a little expensive by many cost-conscious users but, incidentally, the same tip we gave you for Acrobat works here as well; i.e., if the software detects scanned text in the document you're converting to Word, it will automatically trigger the OCR engine. Here's how it works:

Step 1: Open the Scanned PDF

Use the standard "File" → "Open" option to import your file into Nitro Pro.

Step 2: Use the Export Function

Go to the Home tab and look for a group of tools called "Convert". Click the option that says "To Word".

Step 3: Specify Conversion Settings

You can now select a page range to apply OCR for the conversion. Additionally, you can import more files using the Add Files button and even reorder them. Set the location for the output file.

Step 4: Convert to Word

Click the "Convert" button and wait for the conversion to finish. Your converted Word file will be available in the location you chose at the end of the previous step.

convert scanned pdf to word

3. ABBYY FineReader

Yet another premium PDF utility with a powerful OCR engine is FineReader, a well-known professional tool for pro users. FineReader OCR works on guiding principles that the company refers to as IPA, which stands for Integrity, Purposefulness, and Adaptability. As a whole, these principles deliver accurate results that are stunningly close to the original content in terms of accuracy, layout, and other attributes. The advantage here is that you can export your results directly into MS Word so it's ready to edit as soon as it is converted.

scanned pdf to word converter

Step 1: Open the Scanned PDF File

Use the File → Open command to open the PDF document in FineReader.

Step 2: Perform OCR

Use the OCR module to convert scanned text into machine-readable/editable text.

Step 3: Export to MS Word

Once the conversion is complete, the document will still be in PDF format, so click the Export option and choose DOC or export the file directly into your MS Word program.

Tip: The latest version of ABBYY FineReader comes with an Automated Tasks feature that you can set up so any uploaded scanned PDF will be automatically converted to the desired format and saved or exported to the application of your choice.

4. Rossum

Rossum is an advanced online service that uses AI-powered OCR to convert scanned PDFs into editable formats such as Word's DOC and DOCX file types. The site requires registering a free account, after which your free trial period begins. The process is a little complex so we won't get into the details here, but the overview is fairly simple: Upload your PDF workflows through one of the channel options (upload, email, API, etc.), set automation rules to apply, convert your scanned file using OCR, and export the result as a Word document.

convert scanned pdf to editable word

Rossum is specially designed to automate heavy workflows such as converting scanned invoices for processing and archival, processing transactional documents, and other advanced needs. If your PDF workflows comprise a lot of scanned files, you may want to explore this option.

5. Smallpdf

Smallpdf is a powerful suite of PDF tools that run on your browser. The process is simple and the conversion quality is excellent. The best part is that you don't need to install anything, but the downside is that OCR is only available if you have a Pro subscription, which costs about $9 a month. Not bad if you're a regular PDF user who needs online access to tools for conversions, file management, PDF protection, and so on.

The conversion process is straightforward:

Step 1: Upload the Scanned PDF

Drag your file from its folder location and drop it into the Smallpdf URL for PDF to Word conversion.

Step 2: Convert using OCR

Select the Convert to Editable Word (OCR) option on the next screen. Click the Choose Option button to proceed to the next page.

Step 3: Download or Share

You can now click the Download button or use the Share icon to share the file online with others.


And that rounds up our article on the best tools to convert scanned PDF to Word for editing and other purposes. These tools have all been tested in the market and have received high ratings from their respective users. However, the recommended tool is UPDF Converter because it's affordable, accurate, dedicated, versatile, and available for both Windows and Mac systems. In addition, you can convert PDFs to various other formats so the files can be edited in their native applications. Give it a try and join tons of satisfied users who rely on UPDF Converter to process their daily document workflows.