How to Make PDFs Searchable – Here is the Ultimate Guide You Should Know

Last Updated on August 21, 2022 by Tina Clark

When you need to find some keywords within a PDF or even extract the texts from the PDF file, you have to make a PDF file searchable. It is, nevertheless, feasible to index and searches the PDF content after making minor alterations. Even if a PDF has been scanned and saved as an image, the texts in the doc may be made searchable by using the optical character recognition, or OCR, text-recognizing function to the document and save the results in a database. Here is the detailed process to make a PDF searchable.

How to Make PDFs Searchable

Part 1: The Advanced Method to Make a PDF Searchable with OCR

1: Convert Photo to PDF or Remove Protection

When you need to make a password-protected PDF file searchable, you only need to remove the protection. PDFelement is a versatile method to get rid of encryption. It removes the restrictions for the PDF files, searches for the desired texts, prints the documents, and even applies the batch process within a few clicks.

1. Remove the passwords and restrictions from PDF files to searchable PDFs.

2. Extract texts and images with the OCR algorithm to make PDF searchable.

3. Provide editing features to merge, combine, perform OCR, compress, etc.

4. Add annotations and watermarks to the search results on the PDF files.

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Step 1: Once you have installed PDFelement, you can launch the program on your computer. Click the Open files button to import the password protected PDF files on your computer. It will ask you to enter the password to remove the PDF restrictions.

Open PDF with Password PDFElement

Step 2: If the PDF files are protected with some permission passwords, you can click the Enable Editing button on the notification bar to get the editing permission. After that, you can simply enter the password and click the OK button to get into the PDF document.

Edit Permission PDFElement

Step 3: When you make the PDF searchable, you can simply use the hotkeys to search for the desired texts from the PDF. Moreover, you can also add an annotation to the result, revise the texts within the PDF, and even print the desired file within clicks.

Note: It also provides the professional PDF password remover to decrypt the password directly.

Add Signature to PDF PDFElement

2: How to Make PDFs Searchable with OCR Technology

If you need to make a scanned PDF document searchable, you can also use the OCR feature of PDFelement. It enables you to extract the texts, images, and other files from the PDF. Moreover, you can simply take a screenshot or print out the password-protected PDF and make the PDF searchable if the above method does not work.

Step 1: Launch PDFelement on your computer, you can click the Open PDF button and choose the PDF file from your computer. Click the Open files in the menu bar. It also enables you to turn the scanned images into a PDF file within the program.

Open PDF for Conversion PDFElement

Step 2: Once you have successfully uploaded the PDF file, simply click the Perform OCR link on the blue notification to download the OCR component. You can click the Download button on the OCR Component Download pop-up window that appears.

Download OCR Component PDFElement

Step 3: Choose the Searchable Text image option to search the texts from the PDF file before clicking the OK button. It allows executing the PDF OCR procedure once the operation is complete, you can search the contents of your PDF file.

Scen Searchable Text PDFElement Win Download Mac Download

Part 2: How to Make a PDF Searchable with Adobe Acrobat DC

Adobe Acrobat is another frequently used PDF editor, which enables you to make a PDF searchable in clicks. When you need to extract the texts and search for the desired file, it also provides the Enhance Scans tool to adjust the PDF quality. Of course, you can edit the PDF files, add some annotations, and apply OCR algorithms.

Step 1: Once you have scanned the files, you can open the PDF file with Acrobat DC to view it. From the right-hand window, select the Enhance Scans tool from the drop-down menu. Choose the Camera Image option or the Scanned Document option.

Enhance Scan Adobe

Step 2: From the drop-down menu, select the Auto Detect option to adjust the surrounding area of the page you want to keep. Align the dots along the document's borders to fix the skewing, and then click the Enhance Page option to complete the correction.

Searchable PDF Auto Detect

Step 3: Select the Recognize Text menu and click the In This File button to invoke the text recognition. Choose the appropriate language and click the Recognize Text option to convert your scanned image into a usable and searchable PDF file.

Searchable PDF Recognize Text

Step 4: After converting your scanned image to a readable PDF file using the Recognize Text tool, you can pick and search through the text included in that file via the Find text tool. Now you can find, modify, and reuse the information from your old paper documents.

Find Desired Text PDF

Part 3: FAQs about How to Make a PDF Searchable

1What is important to make a PDF searchable?
Either because the PDF files are image-based or encrypted with a password from searching, here are the reasons that you cannot search the texts from the PDF. Just follow the above methods to remove the encryption or perform the OCR algorithm.
2Should I adjust the PDF saturation to make it possible?
Yes. If you cannot extract the desired text from the PDF, you can simply adjust the PDF saturation and other parameters to make the PDF searchable. Moreover, you can use different OCR algorithms with other PDF editors to get the texts you want.
3Is there an easy alternative to searching for texts from PDF?
Just convert the PDF to Word or TXT file when you need to search for the desired content easily. If you still need a PDF file, you can also use the professional PDF editor to turn the Word, EXCEL, Text, and even images into PDF afterward.


Here are the 2 professional methods to make PDF files searchable without any hassle. Simply use the widely used Adobe Acrobat to find the desired content. When you need to decrypt the password protection, manage the files within the PDF, or perform advanced OCR features, PDFelement is the best choice for different devices.

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