Top 5 Free OCR Software Tools to convert scanned PDF and images to editable text

Sometimes, you might come across scanned documents saved in PDF format or GIF pictures, in which you cannot search any text or phrase. With OCR software, you can easily convert scanned PDF or images into searchable text. Once you use OCR on an image, you will not only use the search function, but you can also copy-paste, or even edit text contents of that image, without any retyping.

This article introduces top 5 free OCR software tools that are based on Internet, when you meet a case that needs to convert scanned PDF to editable text, you can choose a suitable one.

1. Google Drive (Google Doc)

To let Google Drive convert scanned files to searchable and editable text, you need to check the option of "Convert text from PDF and image files to Google documents", then Google drive will automatically perform OCR the uploaded file before saving it to your account.

Google Drive - convert scanned documents

If the OCR function works successfully, all extracted text will save as a new document; otherwise, the contents will remain as an image as original file.

Input formats: PDF and bitmap images

Output formats: PDF, Docx, TXT, RTF, HTML, ODT

Google Drive Pros: Cons:


2 MB file size limit

Preserve most formatting

Cannot recognize text in some languages

Unlimited conversions in a day


2. Free OCR

If you only need to extract plain text from a scanned PDF or image, then Free OCR tool is worth a try. Free OCR uses Tesseract OCR engine, which is considered as one of the most accurate text recognition but only supports a limited languages and ignores most of formatting in scanned PDF or image.

Input formats: JPG, GIF, TIFF, BMP and PDF

Output formats: plain text

Free OCR Pros: Cons:


Only first page of each PDF document is converted

Requires no registration

Limit of 10 images per hour. Maximum file size 2 MB


Only plain text output without retaining formatting

3. Free Online OCR

Another free online web page service to convert scanned PDF and/or images to editable formats. Sometimes, when converting a scanned PDF, the hand-written part cannot be converted correctly to Word doc.

It is easy to convert scanned PDF or images, browse and upload a PDF/ image > select output format > click Convert button.

Supported input formats: PDF, GIF, BMP, JPEG, TIFF and PNG

Supported output formats: DOC, PDF, TXT and RTF

Free Online OCR Pros: Cons:

No registration need

Only first 30 pages of each PDF document is converted 

No capacity limits for processing

Only English supported. Text in other languages might be not recognized

Retain original formatting and layout


4. OCROnline

It is not a complete free online OCR converter. Free with limits, for instance, you'll be able to convert only five pages a week after registering.

Input formats: JPG, TIFF, PNG, GIF and PDF

Output formats: PDF, DOC, RTF and TXT

OCROnline Pros: Cons:

High recognition accuracy

Registration required

Rebuild structure and formatting

Limited upload capacity – 5 pages in a week; maximum file size 10 MB. Need to pay to get extra pages.

Support 153 languages


5. OnlineOCR

This online service provides guest and registered mode. And as a guest (without registration), you can convert 15 images per hour, with file size up to 4 MB. Extra possibilities are available in registered mode, like uploading larger images, ZIP archives and multi-page PDFs. Initial credits after registering can be used for converting 20 pages.

Input formats: JPG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF and (PDF for registered users only )

Output formats: DOC, XLS, TXT and (PDF for registered users)

OnlineOCR Pros: Cons:

Support some languages that other services do not support

Registration required for some functionality

Keep formatting in output DOC; even tables

Limited upload capacity. Extra capacity may be purchased or earned by bonus program