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Does Mac Preview have OCR Feature? A Detailed Exploration of Apple Preview OCR

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is vital. Why? It allows us to convert different non-editable documents into editable and searchable data. It revolutionizes PDF and document management. For Mac users, OCR's importance is undeniable.

Many depend on Apple Preview for managing PDFs. But is it enough? Well, not if you want to use advanced features like OCR. Because it does not provide them. In this article, we will introduce everything related to Mac Preview OCR.

Does Apple Preview Have OCR Feature?

No. Apple Preview doesn't support OCR.

Let's see what Apple Preview is capable of and its role and functionalities. Apple Preview is a vital tool in the Mac ecosystem, serving as a simple PDF viewer, it enables annotation, filling out forms, and signing PDFs. However, It doesn't support an OCR feature to extract text from scanned documents to make them editable.

The good news is that Mac Preview does have a Live Text feature. Introduced in recent macOS updates, Live Text allows users to interact with the text appearing in a photo.

Here's how you can recognize text in a photo in Mac Preview:

  • Open your PDF in Preview.
  • Find the photo or image that shows the text.
  • Hover the pointer over the text, then drag it to select it.
  • Control-click your selection.
  • Choose "Copy" (or press Command-C).
  • You can then paste the copied text into any other document or app.
mac preview ocr live text

This method, however, only applies to text within images or photos. But for users needing a complete OCR solution, Apple Preview's capabilities may fall short. It doesn't permit converting scanned documents into editable or searchable text.

How to Use OCR with Preview Alternative on Mac?

While Apple's Preview serves its purpose for basic PDF viewing and annotation, its capabilities in text recognition are limited only to interacting with text within photos. 

This lack of comprehensive OCR (Optical Character Recognition) support - crucial for extracting text from scanned documents - makes it necessary to opt for a more sophisticated alternative. UPDF for Mac is a powerful alternative to Apple Preview. It caters to your OCR needs effectively.

Download and have it a try now!

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Introducing UPDF: Your OCR Solution

UPDF is an all-around, AI-powered PDF editor. It offers multiple features that Apple's Preview lacks. These include annotating, editing, converting, OCR, and more.

UPDF's OCR function stands out with 38 language recognition support. It lets you extract text from any scanned PDF document. It works even if the text is embedded within an image-based or a scanned PDF document.

UPDF's OCR sets the bar high due to its accuracy and efficiency. It can accurately extract text from low-resolution scans or poor-quality images. All this while preserving the original formatting.

Step-by-Step Guide: Using OCR with UPDF:

Step 1: Open Your File

Open the file on which you want to perform OCR. There are different methods to open the file depending on the file type. To open PDF, the method is similar to other PDF viewers. Go to "File" and click on "Open", or click the "Open File" button on the main interface.

But if you want to open it fast, please drag it into the main interface.

Step 2: Activate the OCR Feature

Once the document is open, click on the OCR icon in the top right corner of the UPDF interface.

Suppose you have not installed the OCR plugin on UPDF on your device. Then it will ask you to install the plugin. Click on Download. Downloading of the plugin will shortly be completed. Once the plugin is downloaded, you will see a notification of Installation successful. 

Click again on the OCR button to start using it. 

Step 3: Perform OCR

On the next window, make sure you select "Searchable PDF", where you can choose Layout, document language, image resolution, and page range. Choose the settings accordingly and click on "Perform OCR" to start the process.

Step 4: Edit the content:

Once OCR is performed, you easily edit the text and move objects under the "Edit PDF" mode. Go over this guide if you want to know how to edit scanned documents

It also offers the AI feature to help you summarize, translate, and explain the PDF file. Simply click the AI icon located in the bottom-right corner and get started. This feature is handy for dealing with lengthy or complex documents or when you need specific information quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions on Mac Preview OCR

Can Apple Preview Extract Text from Images?

Yes, Apple Preview can extract text from images, but with limitations. It uses a feature called Live Text. Live Text allows you to select and copy text from an image or photo. 

The copied text can then be pasted into other documents. However, it does not function as a comprehensive OCR, which extracts text from various documents, including scanned PDFs.

Can Apple Preview Recognize Text in a PDF?

No. Apple Preview can't recognize text in PDFs as it doesn't have a standard OCR feature. If you want to select, copy, edit, and search the text in a scanned PDF document, go for UPDF and it will help you out.

How do I recognize text in a PDF in Mac Preview?

Actually, there is no way for you to recognize text in a PDF in Mac Preview, as we discussed in this article it doesn't have a dedicated OCR feature.


In short, Apple Preview's OCR features are limited. It does offer Live Text for image-text interaction but lacks complete OCR capabilities essential for text extraction from scanned documents.

Enter UPDF, a robust alternative with comprehensive OCR features. Its AI-driven OCR effortlessly turns any scanned document or PDF into editable and searchable text, no matter the complexity. Available across multiple platforms, UPDF ensures effective document management on any device.

UPDF, with its advanced features and accessibility, stands out as a reliable solution. It's an OCR tool you can trust. Try it now!

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