I am looking for an OS X program that will quickly and simply convert a PDF to a searchable text PDF.

Ideally I would like to:

  • Drop the PDF file onto the app's icon in the dock

  • The app automatically converts the PDF to searchable text and then overwrites the original fiile

I currently have ABBYY FineReader and Adobe Acrobat Pro but neither program offers fast drag-n-drop OCR conversion.

2 Answers 2


PDFPen does what you’re looking for—at least almost.

You can drop a PDF file on to the dock icon and it will open in the app. The app automatically determines whether OCR tracing is needed/possible or not*, and if it is, it asks you to confirm which language(s) you want it to recognise when OCR tracing. The tracing itself seems quite fast—I just tried it on a 15-page text-only file, and it took about 15 or 20 seconds or so.

It won’t automatically overwrite the original file, but simply saving (⌘S) will.

I’ve only used the free trial version (which overlays a watermark on the file, but seems otherwise unrestricted). At $74.95 for the full version, it’s not exactly cheap.


* I don’t know exactly how reliably auto-determining feature is, but it’s worked for me so far. When I open PDFs whose text is already selectable, it doesn’t give me the OCR option; with non-selectable PDFs it does.


There's ReadIris Pro

  • Convert paper, images or PDF files to editable digital text
  • Automatically recreate document layouts
  • Compatible with popular text editors for Mac OS

UK price is £69, though I got mine free when I bought a new HP laser printer recently.
I've not really fully put it through its paces yet, so I can't say whether it's exactly what you need, but it is available as a trial version that you could test before committing.

  • 1
    ReadIris Pro does not work in my case. I am given the error: "The image is too large. Image size is limited to 75 million pixels." Sep 27, 2016 at 0:38

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