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Make PDFs Searchable - 3 Expert Ways For All Users

It is becoming increasingly common for PDF files to lack search functionality, making it difficult to locate specific content inside a document. The good news is that you can use OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and text recognition using numerous programs to make PDF searchable.

If you have scanned files, then it's inconvenient not to be able to search. In this article, 3 approaches are provided that make PDF searchable.

Part 1: How to Make PDF Searchable with UPDF OCR?

There are a wide variety of PDF editors to choose from. However, UPDF stands out as a trustworthy PDF editor. It is an excellent tool for both individual and commercial use. It provides useful collaboration tools for working with others on documents and enables users to read, annotate, convert, OCR, edit, and organize PDFs.

The best feature of UPDF is to make PDF searchable using the OCR function. That sounds great, right? You can get and try it by clicking the download button below.

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make pdf searchable

Let's see how you can make a PDF searchable with the OCR tool of UPDF:

Step 1: Click "Recognize Text using OCR"

Start with opening the PDF on UPDF and direct to the "Recognize Text using OCR" button on the right column. Select "Searchable PDF" from the "Document Type" section to make PDF searchable.

Step 2: Specify Layout to Follow

After accessing the OCR settings, you can select the layout of your choice from the drop-down menu.

ocr layout
  • If you choose the "Text and Pictures" Only option, it will only save recognized text and pictures, and the size of the output PDF will be relatively smaller. Also, the PDF will slightly differ from the original one visually.
  • In contrast, selecting the "Text Over the Page Image" option will help you keep the background image along with the overlay-recognized text. These kinds of PDFs usually are larger than previous ones. However, they still might differ from the original PDF in appearance.
  • Finally, choosing the "Text Under the Page Image" option will help you obtain a visually identical PDF to the original one. In this mode, the recognized text appears in the invisible layer below the image.

Step 3: Set Language and Resolution

The tool offers a list of 38 supported languages, so you can set your preferred language for the OCR tool. If your document has more than one language, you can select multiple languages to help OCR recognize more accurately.

After defining the language, you need to set the resolution of the images as needed. For that, select any value from the "Image Resolution" settings. The options you get in the "Image Resolution" drop-down menu include 300 dpi, 15 dpi, and 72 dpi. If you are unaware of the best choice, simply tap the "Detect Optimal Resolution" button to let UPDF decide the ideal image resolution.

make pdf searchable with UPDF

Step 4: Execute OCR to Make PDF Searchable

Work through the page range from the available options and simply click on "Perform OCR" to execute the process. Set a location on your computer and let the OCR tool make PDF searchable.

Applying the OCR function, you can click the search icon located on the top-right corner, and enter any words to search through the PDF documents. You will have the choice to select "Case Sensitive" or "Whole Words Only".

search in pdf

After learning how to make PDF searchable, you may wonder what else UPDF can do for you. The following are some of the other popular features of UPDF:

  • UPDF allows you to annotate the text by highlighting, underlining, and striking it out. Notes, text boxes, and a typing tool may all be added to a PDF file. In addition, you have the ability to draw shapes in PDF documents. For instance, you may insert a rectangle, oval, line, or arrow into a PDF file.
  • It also provides the ability to insert and edit text in PDF, as well as add and edit images within a PDF file. It's possible to customize the text's appearance in many ways, including its font, size, color, style, alignment, and so on.
  • You can also rotate the pages of your PDF documents with the help of a tool like UPDF. The program also has the ability to merge PDF files or add additional pages. Using the Extract, you may even pick a specific set of pages to extract.
  • It can secure a PDF with passwords, watermarks, and digital signatures.
  • Its advanced AI feature can summarize large PDF documents up to 2GB, translate PDF documents into any language, explain terms within PDF documents, chat with your PDF, and more. Download it now and you can get 100 free questions to ask the amazing AI bot.

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If you are still confused about how to make PDF searchable, you can also watch the video below.

Part 2. How to Make a PDF Searchable with Adobe Acrobat?

Even though it is one of the most widely used PDF editors, most people still struggle with Adobe PDF's lack of built-in search functionality. If you've ever run into this issue, this article will show you exactly how to fix it by adding search functionality to your PDFs in Adobe Acrobat. Here is how to make PDF text searchable:

  1. Get Adobe Acrobat and open the PDF.
  2. If you go to the "Enhance PDF" tab on the left side of the window, you may pin the "Enhance" button to the top of the menu.
  3. Select "Scan Document" from the "Enhance" menu, then "All Pages" from the "Pages" menu.
  4. Once the PDF OCR is complete (after clicking "Enhance"), you may search for any text inside the document. So, it was how to make a PDF searchable in Adobe.
make pdf searchable with acrobat

Part 3. How to Make a PDF Searchable Online?

The online converter makes it easy to choose and copy text from a scanned PDF by turning it into a searchable PDF. This online tool may be used to transform scanned PDFs into editable text.

Scanned PDF content may be copied and used just like any other scanned text. With the use of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software available online, you may quickly and effectively extract text from scanned PDFs and paste it into other formats like Microsoft Word, Excel, or plain text. Here is how to make PDF searchable online:

  1. Visit the website OnlineOCR.net.
  2. Find the file on your hard drive that you wish to be converted, then click the button. You have a 15MB limit on file sizes.
  3. By choosing the PDF file's language as the output format, you may copy content and paste it into a new Microsoft Word (Doc) document.
  4. Click the "Convert" button to start the process of conversion.
  5. The Doc format change makes it possible to easily extract text from scanned PDFs, photographs, and recorded pictures.
convert pdf in onlineocr

Part 4. Comparing the Three Methods

As the demand for OCR technology increases, selecting the right tool to convert scanned documents into editable text becomes crucial. Each method brings its features and considerations to convert a PDF into an editable and searchable document. By evaluating the capabilities of the tools, users can make informed decisions based on their specific OCR needs.

MetricsUPDFAdobe AcrobatOnline Conversion
OCR TechnologyYes, however, it can only extract text from PDF, and the formatting and layout will be damaged.
Text and Pictures Only
Text Over the Page Image
Text Under the Page Image
Page Range
Multiple Document Language Support
Customized Image Resolution
No File Size Limitation
Fast Processing
Safe to UseOnline tools may have safety issues.
Easy to Use

Based on the comparison of UPDF, Adobe Acrobat, and Online Conversion Platforms, UPDF stands out as a highly recommended choice for OCR conversion. Let's discuss the standout advantages of UPDF for document management in detail. 

  • UPDF offers a wide range of features beyond OCR, including editing, annotating, and converting PDFs. This comprehensive functionality makes UPDF a versatile tool for various document management needs.
  • The tool prioritizes customer satisfaction with responsive and accessible customer support. Users can rely on prompt assistance for a smooth experience and addressing concerns.
  • It is committed to continuous improvement and provides regular product updates to enhance functionality, address issues, and introduce new features.
  • You can get a cost-effective solution for PDF management that makes it an attractive choice for individuals, businesses, and organizations. Get it now with an exclusive discount.

Acknowledging the capabilities of UPDF, we strongly recommend downloading UPDF to your devices to streamline the workflow.

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Part 5. What is a Searchable PDF?

The process of applying OCR, or optical character recognition, to scanned PDFs or other image-based documents typically results in the creation of searchable PDFs.

During the process of text recognition, both the characters in the document and the structure of the document itself are examined and "read." The picture layer receives a text layer, which is often positioned beneath the image.

These PDF files are completely searchable and practically impossible to tell apart from the original papers they were created from. Documents in PDF format that support searching can have their text highlighted, copied, and annotated.

Part 6. Why are Some PDFs not Searchable?

When a PDF is created from an image rather than from a written document, the resulting PDF file does not include any text that can be searched by default. In order to utilize Adobe Acrobat to convert a PDF, the original picture must have a resolution of 72 dpi or higher.

The content of a document does not become searchable instantly once it is either converted to a PDF document or produced as a PDF document. A PDF's text may be made searchable even if it was scanned and stored as an image by using the program's OCR text-recognizing feature and saving the file.

Another reason that can make your PDF unsearchable is the use of a password on your PDF document. In simple words, if your PDF file is password protected, you cannot search the text in it. You will have to enter the password to make it searchable.

Part 7. How to Find Out if Your PDF is Searchable or Not?

Simply opening your PDF and exploring by searching for or selecting text using your keyboard or mouse will help you determine whether or not your PDF is searchable.

If you are able to choose or highlight text in your PDF file, this indicates that it is searchable. If you are unable to, this indicates that the PDF you are using is not searchable.

Either way, you will have to open your PDF file. You cannot determine if your PDF is searchable or not without opening it.


In conclusion, making PDFs searchable is crucial for effective document management, and there are expert methods to achieve this. However, among the discussed options, UPDF stands out as an excellent solution for everyone. Moreover, its complete features make UPDF not only great for creating PDFs searchable with OCR technology but also versatile for various document needs.

Its easy-to-use design and commitment to getting better over time make UPDF a trustworthy choice for individuals and businesses. For a smooth, precise, and trouble-free experience in converting PDFs to searchable text, UPDF is the recommended tool that blends quality with user satisfaction. Now you can download it directly by clicking the download button below.

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