How to Convert a PDF Picture to Text

By Tammy Clevenger

The Adobe Acrobat application, Professional or Standard edition, is the gold standard and is the most utilized program for scanning a document with a scanner, and then saving the document as a Portable Document Format (PDF) document. When a document is scanned into a PDF file, the document is actually a scanned picture, or image, of the original paper document. However, Adobe Acrobat includes tools that will convert the picture image to rendered, searchable text. Using the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) feature in Acrobat, converting PDF image characters to text is a simple task.

Things You'll Need

  • Adobe Acrobat
  • PDF document

Step 1

Right-click on the PDF image file and select "Open With" from the menu. Click the "Adobe Acrobat" program link to open the PDF in the Acrobat application.

Step 2

Click the "Document" link from the top bar in Acrobat.

Step 3

Click the "OCR Text Recognition" option, and then click "Recognize Text using OCR." The Recognize Text dialog box will open.

Step 4

Click the "Edit" button to access the "Recognize Text Settings" dialog box.

Step 5

Click the middle dropdown box and select the third option in the list: "Formatted Text and Graphics." Click "OK" to save settings and close the settings dialog box.

Step 6

Click the "All Pages" radio button and click "OK" to start the OCR engine scan. The scan will highlight text within the PDF document while the text is being converted. If the OCR engine encounters words or characters that it cannot interpret, a dialog box will ask the user to type the correct word or phrase.

Step 7

Type corrected characters or words and click "OK." Repeat each time the test dialog box appears. The OCR scan will proceed through the document until all image characters have been converted. A notification will appear when the process is finished. When the process is finished, scanned text in the PDF is converted to rendered, searchable text.

Step 8

Save the document with changes by clicking "File", and then "Save" from the top navigation bar.