I am looking for an app to make the scanned PDF files on my iPad searchable.

The problem is that there is a large number of apps which are supposed to do this, but they all have rather mixed ratings. I don't mind whether the application is free or paid for.

  • Do you have any other requirements than OCR? Is offline usage required, or is app that integrates to online service ok?
    – Olli
    Feb 12, 2014 at 13:23

2 Answers 2


I use iAnnotate and I love it. It costs $9.99 on the Apple iTunes App Store. PDFs that are already OCR'd can be highlighted and whatnot using the software, and searching them is simple. There are also a lot of other helpful tools like highlighting and the ability to add notes (annotate).

The only negative I've found is that sometimes when I zoom in or out and then scroll, the text looks a little fuzzy (like it didn't load/render perfectly). If I change the zoom this is immediately fixed, so this doesn't bug me much, but it is one thing I've noticed. I am using an older iPad so it may just be this.

  • @Anna Odd, I've never had that problem. When I load PDFs in mine it says something about OCR and it scans in the document or something. I presume everything I've loaded has already been OCR'd before I imported it if that is the case. My sincere apologies. I will edit.
    – Dan
    Mar 6, 2014 at 15:34
  • Never mind. Thanks for editing. It's still a very good app especially since it connects to cloud storage very well.
    – user418
    Mar 6, 2014 at 15:36

The Smile software apps have a good reputation on the Mac for this sort of thing. They also offer an iPad app for doing exactly what you're looking for called PDFPen Scan+ which is $5.

I've used the Mac app extensively and find it to be excellent at OCRing even large (100+ page) documents. I also own a copy of the iPhone app however I have not used it that much. It does OCR quite successfully but it really depends what you want to do with the app once you've OCRed the document. Do you then want to copy a portion of the document into another app, email the OCRed file. Knowing the use case will provide allow me to provide more information on suitability.

  • I will test and report back.
    – user418
    Mar 6, 2014 at 12:43

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