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OCR software to scan and make live text from an existing PDF file

Posted on 2011-10-07
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Is there any software out there that can import an existing PDF and convert it to live text for editing?
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Question by:ZionTech1
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by:Kruno Džoić
ID: 36931368
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Joe Winograd, EE MVE 2015&2016 earned 2000 total points
ID: 36931507
A couple of clarifications. Many PDF files already contain text, so they don't need to be OCR'ed to create the text – it's already there. The only PDF files that need to be OCR'ed to create text are those containing just images. So if you have an existing PDF file with text, the real issue is how to edit it. For that you'll need either a product that can directly edit a PDF file or a product that converts the PDF file into an editable format, such as a Word file (or a low-end approach to the latter is to use a PDF reader, like Adobe Reader, and simply copy/paste the text).

If you need OCR to create the text from image-only PDF files, there are many good packages out there. Two highly-regarded ones are ABBYY FineReader and Nuance's OmniPage:

http://www.abbyy.com/
http://nuance.com/for-individuals/by-product/omnipage/index.htm

Another approach is to use an imaging/scanning package, such as Nuance's PaperPort:
http://nuance.com/for-individuals/by-product/paperport/index.htm

PaperPort can take an image-only PDF and via a <Save As> command automatically invoke OCR on it and create a PDF Searchable Image file, which contains both the image and a layer of text created by the OCR (btw, under the covers, PaperPort utilizes OmniPage OCR). The latest version is PP14, which just came out in August. The main enhancement is cloud support, which you probably don't need. The new version is fairly expensive, but you can get the previous version, which is 12 (yes, they were superstitious and skipped 13), as a download at Newegg for $39.99:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168168677800SF

The Newegg download is likely to be 12.0. Do not install that. Instead, read my EE article on how to upgrade to 12.1 (free!):

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Web_Development/Document_Imaging/A_6537-PaperPort-Upgrade-How-to-download-and-install-updated-versions-of-PaperPort-11-and-12.html

As a disclaimer, I want to emphasize that I have no affiliation with any companies mentioned in this post, or any financial interest in them whatsoever. Regards, Joe
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by:Paul Sauvé
ID: 36933566
If you already have an all-in-one printer (print/fax/scan/photocopy) or a stand-alone scanner, then you may have received this soptware with your hardware.

For example, I have a Brother Multi-functional printer and it came with PaperPort which allows me to scan pdf files wwith text images in them.
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by:ZionTech1
ID: 36937102
M3rc74 and paulsauve, thank you for answering a question I did not ask. Your efforts are much appreciated.

The question was "Is there any software out there that can import an EXISTING PDF and convert it to live text for editing". The importance on the EXISTING PDF part. Meaning that the PDF was scanned in as an image or from any other source.

joewinograd: has completely and thoroughly answered my question. Thank you.
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Author Closing Comment

by:ZionTech1
ID: 36937103
Perfect
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by:Paul Sauvé
ID: 36937155
M3rc74 and paulsauve, thank you for answering a question I did not ask


Excuse me: "For example, I have a Brother Multi-functional printer and it came with PaperPort which allows me to scan pdf files with text images in them."

I guess I'm a little dazed and confused, especially since I mentioned the same software as joewinograd - i.e. PaperPort.

Please remember that we are volunteers and we do this for the pleasure of helping out. I don't think your sarcasm is appropriate. It's bit like cutting someone off in your car then yelling them! I'm not asking for points, I'm asking you to be polite!  I really don't need the grief.

Thank you for your understanding.
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