How to Enable OCR in Adobe Acrobat

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How to Enable OCR in Adobe Acrobat
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Optical character recognition (OCR) is a powerful tool that software such as Adobe Acrobat uses to convert letters and symbols in PDF documents into editable text. Essentially, OCR converts images of characters into accessible content that can be rewritten, modified and finalized. Users of the popular Adobe Acrobat software can use its OCR capabilities to edit PDFs quickly and then republish them. Enabling OCR is accomplished in a few simple steps.



Optical character recognition (OCR) is a powerful software resource that transforms content inside PDF documents into editable text. You can enable OCR inside Adobe Acrobat using a few relatively straightforward steps.

Basics of OCR

OCR, which is primarily intended as a means of modifying PDF documents, plays an integral role in the day-to-day usage of software such as Adobe Acrobat. Although OCR is mainly used to convert images of printed characters to editable text, it is capable of analyzing and translating handwritten characters as well.

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Using Adobe OCR

To use OCR in conjunction with Adobe Acrobat, you first need to import the PDF that contains the characters you want to edit. This can be a PDF created directly from a text document or a PDF scan of a paper document. In either situation, OCR can analyze and convert the included content.


After the document is selected, choose the Edit PDF option that appears in the Tools panel of Adobe Acrobat. When this option is selected, Acrobat automatically enables OCR. At this point, Acrobat scans the document and prepares it for editing. The length of time required for the scan varies depending on the length of the document.

Completing OCR Edits

When the OCR scan is complete, the characters in the PDF are editable text. Using your cursor, select an area of text in the PDF document and edit or rewrite the content as needed. There are some limitations to this process, however. If for any reason OCR is unable to convert the text accurately, you are not able to implement any of your edits.


With that in mind, you should check all areas of your document that you believe need reviewing or editing before beginning to revise the content. There is nothing more frustrating than spending a long time on edits in a PDF, only to find that a crucial change in one area is not possible.

Finalizing the Changes

After you complete all the necessary changes, finalize the document and check that your changes are implemented fully in the edited text. To complete your new PDF, click the Save As option from the File menu tab. Insert a new name for the edited file and embed all your changes inside the new PDF document.


Thanks to an extensive array of support documentation, you can access tutorials or seek assistance either through the Adobe online platform or via the Acrobat software itself.