2 Ways to copy text from scanned PDF, images on Mac without Adobe Acrobat

Can’t copy text from an Adobe PDF file? Some PDF files, notably those scanned PDF files or photos copied into a PDF, do not allow users to select or copy text in them. They are image based PDF. If you need to extract text from them, you have to convert them from image based to text based PDF files so they become editable. The paid version of Adobe Acrobat can convert scanned documents into text or editable PDF. In this article however, we will introduce two powerful premium OCR software for Mac, great alternatives to Adobe Acrobat, and the easy steps to copy text from PDF, scanned PDF, even images.

Copy text from PDF using PDF Element

PDF Element is an all-in-one PDF creator, editor, converter. Download and install the PDF tool from previous linked page first. 

pdf element pro for mac
PDF Element – PDF Editor for Mac

Run the PDF program on your Mac, click Edit PDF from its home screen, browse to the PDF file that you want to grab text from and open it in the PDF software. It will automatically detect the scanned document and prompt you to perform OCR so you can edit text, images and other content in the PDF file.

Perform OCR scanned PDF using PDF Element for Mac
Perform OCR scanned PDF using PDF Element for Mac

You can also manually click the OCR from the top toolbar to start recognizing text in the scanned PDF file.

Can I extract text from images, screenshots as well?

Just click Create PDF from the home screen of above PDF software, then import the source images, screenshots to the PDF software to perform OCR and extract text from them.

Copy text from scanned PDF using FineReader

FineReader OCR Pro for Mac is another great tool that can turn documents of virtually any origin into information you can edit, quote, archive, search or share.

Open the OCR software from Launchpad on your Mac, you’ll be prompted to create a new task in its home screen. Select Convert to PDF Document, then browse to the folder where the PDF file you like to edit is saved and add it to the PDF converter. 

finereader ocr pro for mac
FineReader OCR Pro – PDF Editor, Converter for Mac

The PDF software will automatically recognize text in the scanned PDF. After that the Save dialog pops up. Optionally choose a different file name and save path, then click Export button to save the editable PDF file to your Mac.

Find the converted PDF file from the location you have specified above in Finder. Open it with Preview or any other PDF reader, viewer you have on your Mac, you should then be able to select text, copy text from the PDF document.

Get text from pictures, screen captures with FineReader

Getting text from images, screen captures involves the same process with FineReader. Select a conversion task first, then import source image files, auto OCR applies, save as an editable PDF file or other documents. 

For example, you can select Convert to PDF Document or Import Images to New Document first, then add the screenshots, pictures into the OCR software for Mac to grab text from them. You can refer to this tutorial to copy text from screenshots, images on Mac for more details.

Snagit VS FineReader

Snagit is a very popular screen capture with the OCR support. It makes use of the ABBYY OCR engine as well, the same as FineReader. You can use it to extract images from screenshots & images as well. Other than that it even allow users to directly capture screen as text without saving the screenshots or any file to your computer first.

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