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How to Search Scanned PDF for Words

2020-09-09 17:49:46 • Filed to: How-To • Proven solutions

Have you ever wondered how to search a scanned PDF for words that match your criteria? Surprisingly, a lot of PDF users don't know how to word search a scanned PDF document, and it's understandable because these are essentially image-based files. So, how do you convert a scanned document into a searchable PDF? The answer is Optical Character Recognition or OCR for short. It's a technology that helps convert image-based text into an editable equivalent. In truth, not many OCR modules are that accurate, which is why we've highlighted a tool that will convert any scanned PDF and make it fully editable, searchable, and indexable by search engines as well. No more wondering how to word search a scanned PDF document, PDFelement will help you.

How to Search Scanned PDF

PDFelement is a professional but highly intuitive tool to handle PDF documents. One of the main features of the Pro version is that it comes with an OCR plugin or module that can convert any scanned PDF into a searchable PDF document. The process to convert a scanned PDF into an editable version is described below:

Step 1: Open the Scanned PDF

Once PDFelement is installed on your PC or Mac, you can simply drag a scanned PDF document and drop it into the desktop shortcut or the app icon to open it. If the program is already open, just hit "Open File…" on the left side of the main software window as shown in the screenshot below.

search scanned pdf

Step 2: Use OCR to Turn your Scanned PDF into Editable Text

Once the file is open, bring your mouse pointer to the "Convert" tab at the top, between the View and Edit tabs. In the ribbon-style toolbar right below it, you'll see an icon labeled OCR. You only need to do this if the software doesn't automatically show you a prompt to do an OCR scan-and-convert action. When you see the notification bar, click on the corresponding "Perform OCR" button.

how to word search a scanned pdf

At this point, we're still in Step 2 because the OCR is yet to be performed. In the new window that opens up, you can tweak your OCR settings by changing parameters such as language and whether you want the output as simply searchable text or if you want to be able to edit the text after conversion. You'll also see a Customize Pages option that lets you choose which pages or groups of pages you want to convert. This obviously saves time because you won't need to scan and convert the entire document. Finally, click OK after choosing the parameters and wait for the OCR to be completed.

pdf ocr search

Step 3: How to Search for Words in a Scanned PDF

Depending on which conversion option you picked in the previous step, you'll either be able to find and replace text within the PDF document or simply find all instances of the searched word. For both cases, you can use the "Ctrl+F" or "Cmd+F" function in Windows and Mac, respectively.

how to search for words in a scanned pdf

Alternatively, you can also use the "Search" option (magnifying glass icon) on the left-side toolbar to find specific words and phrases, with options to match the whole word and/or match text case. The text search panel will highlight the found instances and the main panel will show you their positions in the document.

how to search for words in a scanned pdf document

Video on How to Search Scanned PDF


Detailed Introduction for PDFelement

Performing OCR to search scanned PDFs for words and phrases is just one of the numerous functions that PDFelement can help you with. As a robust PDF editor, creator, and converter, it offers a lot of tools that can help you manage your PDF workflows and be more efficient and productive at work. Some of its core functions are outlined below:

  • Create: It lets you create PDF documents from almost any source document no matter what format it is in. You can also use the integration with the Print function on your PC, as well as directly create a PDF from a scanner's output.
  • Edit: Editing PDF is smooth, intuitive, and efficient. Any content element can be edited, replaced, repositioned, etc. and each has a unique set of tools that will appear as a convenient sidebar when you click on that particular element.
  • Convert: A wide range of conversion options are available, including converting a scanned document into its editable or searchable equivalent and converting batches of PDF.
  • Review and Comment: Making annotations and doing markups is as easy as selecting an annotation tool and applying it wherever you want on the document's pages. You have a wide array of shapes, arrows, text boxes, highlights, and other markup tools to choose from and solidify your thoughts, opinions, and suggestions for the document in question.
  • Forms: Easily create forms from scratch or convert a non-editable form into an interactive one. Additional features include data extraction, form-filling, form properties, alignment, importing/exporting data, etc. You can also take advantage of several template options to help you create custom forms.
  • Sign and Protect: Digital signatures can be added (eSigning) to any document. You can also protect PDF by adding enterprise-grade password encryption for both opening and modifying/copying/printing the PDF.

With PDFelement, there's no more wondering about how to search a scanned PDF for words or hunting around for multiple tools or online services to convert, create, protect, and do other PDF actions. Safely manage your PDFs locally on your machine until you're ready to share it with collaborators over a secure network or after protecting it with encryption.

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Free Download or Buy PDFelement right now!

Buy PDFelement right now!

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Margarete Cotty

chief Editor

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