OCR or Select Text Out Of Images or PDFs


You can OCR scan a PDF by making a screenshot of it in macOS Monterey



  • Most Macs do not do automatic OCR of PDF's.
  • Using Mac Preview, you can completely OCR scan (make selectable text you can copy) on any PDF, or any image with text on it.
  • No downloads. No tweaks. No changes to settings.
  • Open the PDF or whatever file or image or video has text on it.
  • Take a screenshot using Cmd+Shift+4 or Cmd+Shift+3, or whatever built-in Mac screenshot mechanism you prefer.
  • Now just open the screenshot.
  • The screenshot will automatically have selectable text you can copy.
  • You can do this with anything you can take a screenshot of on your Mac.
  • This seems to be a feature for Monterey and above only, though.
  • https://support.apple.com/guide/preview/interact-with-text-in-a-photo-prvw625a5b2c/mac

Adobe Acrobat Pro does this, but takes some additional tweaks and steps often.

Windows user alternative

  • Adobe Acrobat Pro, of course, but also...
  • Google Photos, when viewing an image in your web browser, as of April or last year, provides a copy text from image button. Not bad, honestly.
  • Mobile apps like Office Lens or Google Lens or Adobe's version also work.
  • Pixel users (maybe others on Android) have Lens built into Google Photos, but since you can open Photos in a Desktop web browser and copy text, that might be the better way to go.
  • iOS/iPhones/iPads let you select text in photos and copy to your Mac without any additional apps.

Helpful resources:

Link for scanning using an iPhone or iPad

How to take a screenshot

Scanning without a scanner