2 Simple Methods to Make a PDF Searchable

Summary :

This article aims to tell you 2 simple ways to make a PDF searchable. With the right tool, your trouble vanishes.

Table of Contents

How to Make a PDF Searchable

How to Make a PDF Searchable

Converting a non-searchable PDF to a searchable one is easy to do with a variety of online tools and desktop software that can recognize text using OCR (optical character recognition) algorithms.

The entire process typically only takes a few seconds or minutes depending on the length of the document. Mostly, we can do this easily on PC. Also with the right tools, you can search in PDF on iPhone too.

Why PDFs Are Not Searchable

PDF files are static documents that preserve the visual appearance of text and images but don’t recognize the text itself, making their content unsearchable.

This happens because PDFs essentially encapsulate text within images, lacking searchable text or metadata. To make PDFs searchable, they need to undergo OCR to extract the text elements within them.

How to Make a PDF Searchable in Adobe Acrobat Pro

When you click the Edit PDF tool in Adobe Acrobat Pro, it automatically scans and recognizes your PDF. You can obtain an entirely searchable file by choosing to export it as a “PDF Searchable Image.”

Step 1. Open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat.

Step 2. Click the Edit PDF tool on the right column.

Edit PDF in Adobe Acrobat

Edit PDF in Adobe Acrobat

Step 3. Press Ctrl and F on the keyboard > Type the words or sentence you want to search > Allow text recognition from the pop-out window.

Allow Text Recognition

Allow Text Recognition

Step 4. Once the OCR process is complete, click on Save As Other on the left side and select PDF Searchable Image as the file type. This will save a new copy of the PDF with searchable text.


Adobe Acrobat may be the most comprehensive tool for editing a PDF and making a PDF searchable on Windows or Mac.

However, the bummer is obvious as well. It costs you a lot of money if go keep subscribing. Hence, we intend to show you the free but convenient PDFgear to make this conversion happen.

How to Make a PDF Searchable by Converting

Converting the file formats is also a good option to make a PDF searchable. PDFgear is a completely free software that supports the conversion of over 20 file formats, including PDF to Word, PDF to PPT, PDF to Text, and so on.

Even scanned documents can be converted effectively, making text searching within files easier. 👇

Step 1. Upload the PDF to PDFgear

Install and launch PDFgear > Click Open File to upload the PDF to it.

Open a Non-searchable PDF in PDFgear

Open a Non-searchable PDF in PDFgear

Step 2. Convert PDF to Word

Hit Tools > Convert > PDF to Word. Check the OCR box and select file language for a more accurate conversion.

Click Convert to get the PDF file transformed.

Convert a Scanned PDF to Word in PDFgear

Convert a Scanned PDF to Word in PDFgear

PDFgear also offers various customization options, allowing you to select page ranges and facilitating batch conversion, making file conversion more flexible and efficient.

Step 3. Search the Words/Sentence in Word

After converting, open the Word in Microsoft Word and press Ctrl and F on the keyboard to search the text.

Search for the Desired Text

Search for the Desired Text


However, the PDFgear Online Converter doesn’t support batch processing. If you have many PDF files to convert, consider using PDFgear Desktop.

With PDFgear Desktop, you can upload all the files at once and convert them simultaneously.


How to Convert a PDF to a Searchable PDF?

The “Searchable Image” format in Adobe Acrobat Pro allows you to convert a PDF into a searchable PDF: Open the PDF with Adobe Acrobat Pro > Navigate to “Tools” > Click “Recognize Text” > Choose the output style as “PDF Searchable Image”. Additionally, some online converters can perform this task as well.

How Do I Make a PDF Searchable without Acrobat?

PDFgear is a reliable option that can instantly convert a scanned or image-based PDF to an editable Word making it searchable. Simply upload the file, convert the file with OCR, then download the output file complete with selectable text.

Why Can’t I Search in a PDF Document?

When a PDF is created by scanning pages instead of using actual text, the PDF becomes a collection of images and does not contain any searchable or selectable text.

In this situation, you can use PDFgear software to convert the scanned/image-based PDF into an editable Word document. Once converted, you can open it with Microsoft Word and perform searches.

How Do I Make a PDF Searchable on Google?

Google Docs is a good option to make a PDF searchable whether it is a scanned one or a image-based file. Go to Google Drive > Click New > File upload > Choose the PDF from your device > Right-click the file uploaded > Hover over Open with > Select Google Docs > Press Ctrl and F to search for the document.


The methods mentioned in this post can all efficiently make a PDF searchable for further operations. While Adobe Acrobat Pro, equipped with advanced OCR, can automatically make PDF files searchable, the steep subscription fee might be a hindrance for many.

PDFgear, charging nothing, is the best alternative to convert your PDFs to searchable types.

It can extract text from images rapidly, allowing you to do content copying and keyword searching. Within a few clicks, your productivity is greatly increased.

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