Forum Question: Why Can’t I Do Word Searches On ALL My PDF Files?

One feature I LOVE with my MAC is the ability to search PDF files for specific words. However, there are times that some PDF documents are not searchable and I can’t figure out why. Any direction would be very helpful.
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Trina Stroope

Comments: One Response to “Why Can’t I Do Word Searches On ALL My PDF Files?”

    5/26/16 @ 8:28 pm

    Two possible reasons come to mind. The first is that the creator of the PDF file specifically disabled searching. I’m not 100% sure that this is possible, but it probably is.
    The more likely reason is much simpler. A PDF can simply be pages with embedded images. This sort of PDF would look just like a PDF with text, but would be the same as one with only pictures, just that the pictures would be of text. It sounds odd, but this is exactly what you get when you scan in a document and opt to save the scans as PDFs. So this happens all the time.
    Usually, however, a scan will use OCR (optical character recognition) so it can have both the text and the scanned image. Then you can search the PDF. But if the OCR part was left out, then you would get a PDF that appears to have text but cannot be searched.

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