3 Simple Ways to Convert Scanned PDF to Editable PDF

Summary :

This post introduces you to converting scanned PDFs into editable documents in PDF formats and copying text from scanned PDFs with OCR tools. Some popular options include PDFgear, Adobe Acrobat, and iLovePDF.

Table of Contents

Convert Scanned PDF to Editable PDF

Convert Scanned PDF to Editable PDF

One of the big limitations of a scanned PDF is that it is essentially just an image, so you cannot edit the text or contents within it. Converting it to an editable PDF format allows you to edit, add, or delete information in the file.

To convert a scanned PDF to an editable PDF, you’ll need to use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software.

OCR software can recognize the text in scanned documents and convert it into editable text. There are many OCR software options available, both free and paid, that can help you with this task.

How to Turn Scanned PDF to Editable PDF Free Using PDFgear

For research or data analysis purposes, converting scanned reports or papers into editable formats can facilitate data extraction and manipulation. PDFgear has a built-in OCR feature that can recognize text in over 10 languages.

It supports multi-language recognition within the same document, reducing manual data entry tasks by automatically extracting text from documents and forms. Open an image-based PDF in PDFgear, then you can use its OCR tool to extract any text from the whole PDF or partial PDF.

Step 1. Add the PDF file into PDFgear

Download PDFgear on your Windows or Mac, and then launch the application.

Open a Scanned PDF File in PDFgear

Open a Scanned PDF File in PDFgear

Click on the “Open File” option in PDFgear. Browse for the scanned PDF file that you want to run through OCR.

Step 2. Select the OCR Feature

Navigate to the OCR tab from the menubar. Hold the mouse button and select the text you want to extract.

Perfome OCR to a Scanned PDF

Perfome OCR to a Scanned PDF

Click on “Done.” This should open a dialog box to copy or save the selected text.

Step 3. Save or extract the selected section

Before extracting the text, you can select the language of your document to get a better OCR result.

Choose the Text Extraction Language

Choose the Text Extraction Language

Choose whether to copy the text to the clipboard or click on “Save” to save the file in TXT format.

How to Edit a Scanned PDF Directly Using Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat provides a professional industry standard to edit scanned PDFs that have been run through optical character recognition (OCR). The process involves opening a PDF with a scanned image, using the “Edit PDF” tool to apply OCR, and then editing the PDF text directly. It enables editing text, fonts, sizes, colors, and more in the PDF.

The OCR results will vary depending on the quality of the scan and the fonts recognized. You will also unlikely be able to edit any of the graphic elements since this was a scanned document.

Step 1. Open the scanned PDF document in Adobe Acrobat.

Step 2. Go to the “Tools” menu and select “Edit PDF“.

Convert a Scanned PDF to Editable with Acrobat

Convert a Scanned PDF to Editable with Acrobat

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is automatically applied, converting it to a fully editable copy of your PDF.

Step 3. Once converted, you can edit or remove PDF text using the Edit tool.

Edit the Scanned PDF in Adobe Acrobat

Edit the Scanned PDF in Adobe Acrobat

Click on the text block you want to change and use your cursor and keyboard to make edits. Feel free to change text size or font as you want

Step 4. When done with edits, go to File > Save As to save the changes to the PDF.

How to Convert Non-selectable PDF Files into Searchable PDF Online

iLovePDF online service allows you to extract text from image PDFs or scanned PDF files using optical character recognition (OCR) technology. It supports multiple languages including English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese. It works completely online, no software installation is needed

There is a free tier allowing 5 OCR PDF conversions per hour. This tool is limited to 1 file per task. Premium users can process up to 10 files per task and upload PDFs up to 200MB in size.

Step 1. Go to the iLovePDF OCR PDF online tool, and upload your scanned PDF file by clicking on “Select PDF file” or by dragging and dropping the file onto the page.

Upload a Scanned PDF to iLovePDF OCR Tool

Upload a Scanned PDF to iLovePDF OCR Tool

Step 2. Select the language(s) of the text in the PDF to get better OCR accuracy. You can select up to 3 languages.

Step 3. Click on “Apply OCR” to start the conversion process. This analyzes the document and extracts the text.

Convert Scanned PDF to Editable Online with iLovePDF

Convert Scanned PDF to Editable Online with iLovePDF

Step 4. Once processing is complete, click the “Download” button to download the editable PDF generated from the scanned PDF.

Download the Editable PDF File

Download the Editable PDF File

Step 5. Open this PDF in any PDF editor like PDFgear to start editing the content just like a normal document. The text is now selectable, searchable, and editable.

FAQs About Convert Scanned PDF to Editable PDF

Can I convert a scanned PDF to an editable PDF for free?

Yes, there are several free tools and software available that can convert scanned PDFs to editable PDFs.

The iLovePDF OCR tool mentioned in this post can help you convert scanned PDF to editable PDF online free. However, the accuracy of this free tool may vary compared to the paid version of Adobe Acrobat.

Will the formatting of my document be preserved after conversion?

There are some OCR tools to retain the original formatting, including font styles, images, and layout. Yet, how well this works depends on how intricate the document’s layout is and the capabilities of the OCR software, and you might need to make some manual changes after converting.

Is it possible to convert scanned PDFs with handwritten text into editable PDFs?

Yes! You can convert handwritten notes into text effortlessly using OCR technology. Just use a free scanning app like Adobe Scan or PDF Scanner HD on your smartphone to capture the handwritten content. The technology will automatically recognize and convert the text into a document.

How to Convert Scanned PDF to Editable Word?

You can convert scanned PDF to Word using PDFgear Online PDF to Word Converter. Simply upload the PDF to the online converter, and PDFgear will automatically convert your PDF into editable Word in seconds.


Converting scanned PDFs into editable formats can save you time and effort while enabling you to reuse content more flexibly.

There’s a wide range of software available for making a scanned document editable, from free online tools to professional-grade applications. Choosing the right OCR tool to achieve the best results in converting scanned PDFs to editable PDFs.

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