Convert Scanned Image-Only PDF Files to PDF Searchable Image Files via OCR with Power PDF Advanced

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Experience Level: Beginner
Joe Winograd
50+ years in computers
EE FELLOW 2017 — first ever recipient of Fellow award
MVE 2015,2016,2018
In this video, we show how to convert an image-only PDF file into a PDF Searchable Image file, that is, a file with both the image (typically from scanning) and text, which is created in an automated fashion with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. To do this, we will set up a Watched Folder, such that whenever an image-only PDF file arrives in the Watched Folder, it will automatically be converted to a PDF Searchable Image file. We will achieve this using Power PDF, the newest product from the Document Imaging division of Nuance Communications. There are two editions of Power PDF — Standard and Advanced. The Watched Folder feature is in the Advanced edition only.

Update on 10-Sep-2020

Two points in this update:

(1) As noted in the paragraph above and in the video, Power PDF was, at the time of this video's publication, the newest product from the Document Imaging division of Nuance Communications. Since then, Kofax Inc. has acquired Nuance's Document Imaging division, as discussed in this EE article and video about PaperPort Version 14.7:

Free in-place upgrade of Nuance PaperPort Professional 14.5 to Kofax PaperPort Professional 14.7
Free upgrade of Nuance PaperPort Professional 14.5 to Kofax PaperPort Professional 14.7

(2) Related to the subject of this video, namely, the ability to convert image-only PDFs to searchable PDFs, it is worthwhile to note that PaperPort, also a product from Nuance (now Kofax), can do this, as discussed in this EE article:

PaperPort - How To Create Searchable PDF Files

End of Update

Video Steps

1. Download and install the trial software

As noted in the 10-Sep-2020 update above, Kofax acquired Nuance's Document Imaging division, which includes the Power PDF product line, so the links shown in the video have changed. Visit the Kofax site (not Nuance) to get the free trial:


Click the Start Trial button for Power PDF Advanced, fill out the form, and submit it.

Download the trial software and install it.

2. Run the program and invoke the Watched Folder feature

Run the program by clicking Start>All Programs>Nuance Power PDF Advanced>Power PDF Advanced.

Invoke the Watched Folder feature by clicking the Advanced Processing menu, then the drop-down on the Batch Controls ribbon button, then Watched Folder.


3. Configure the Watched Folder settings

Tick the Enable Watched Folder box.

Click the Source button and Browse to the folder that you want as the Watched Folder.

Tick the Include Subfolders box if you want them.

Click the Destination button and Browse to the folder where you want to store the converted PDFs.

Click the File Type drop-down and select Searcheable PDF (Nuance's spelling, not mine).

Fill in whatever other options you want, especially what to do with the finished source files.


4. Test the process

Copy one or more image-only PDFs into the Watched Folder.

After a short wait, check the Destination Folder to view the searchable PDFs that have been created.

Check the Source folder and the Move to folder specified in the Finished source files settings to make sure that the source files were handled correctly.

That's it - you're done! If you find this video to be helpful, please click the thumbs-up icon below. Thank you for watching, Joe

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