Best OCR For Mac [Free Online Tools]

1.0 Introduction

The use of scanned documents in the contemporary digital environment has undergone a revolutionary change, thanks to OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology. This technology enables computers to recognize and extract text from various sources, including scanned PDF documents, allowing us to quickly edit and interact with PDF documents. It is quick and simple to extract text from scanned documents and convert them into editable PDFs or searchable image-based PDFs using optical character recognition (OCR) software like Adobe Acrobat.

Developers can leverage cutting-edge algorithms that allow them to fully utilize optical character recognition technology by combining the robust tools and APIs offered by OCR libraries like Tesseract and IronOCR with machine learning techniques. These libraries enable accurate text recognition, making it simpler to organize and extract useful data from both newly created documents and those that have already been scanned. Maximizing the potential of scanned documents and page images with OCR enables seamless content analysis and supports both individual and business productivity optimization. OCR scanning transforms images into searchable PDFs, making OCR a vital tool in contemporary technology. It is used to digitize paper-based records, extract data from invoices, and enhance document accessibility.

2.0 OCR Tools

In this article, we are going to discuss some of the best OCR software tools for Mac users. They include:

  1. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC
  2. ABBYY FineReader PDF
  3. Readiris 17
  4. IronOCR

2.1 Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

The original document scanning OCR program, and our top pick for Mac OCR software in 2023, is Adobe Acrobat Pro. It should come as no surprise that Adobe Acrobat Pro is the sole program available for Mac that facilitates the creation and editing of PDF documents, as well as the conversion of PDF files into editable or searchable formats. The PDF format was initially developed by Adobe. While there are now many other products on the market capable of handling a wide range of PDF tasks, Adobe Acrobat Pro DC remains exceptionally robust. Despite the availability of Adobe Document Cloud for accessing Adobe Acrobat Pro DC online, the Mac desktop client stands out in its excellence. Notably, Adobe Acrobat is the only OCR program compatible with the latest M1 and M2 Macs, which enhances its appeal even further.

  1. To begin, launch Acrobat and open a PDF file.
  2. In the right-hand window, select the Edit PDF tool. Acrobat swiftly transforms your document into a fully editable copy of your PDF shortly after automatically performing an optical character recognition (OCR) scan on it.

Best OCR For Mac, Figure 1 - A PDF with Page 1 opened in Adobe Acrobat.

To edit an element, click on it. Any additional text you provide will match the original font's style. In order to save your newly changed document, select File > Save As.

You can learn more about the Adobe Acrobat DC installation on the Adobe Acrobat website.

2.2 ABBYY FineReader PDF For Mac

ABBYY FineReader PDF OCR software for Mac has been available for nearly 20 years, although for the majority of that time, it was branded as ABBYY FineReader Pro. ABBYY updated the FineReader product line with the launch of macOS Big Sur to introduce FineReader PDF. Unfortunately, it only operates natively with Intel Macs. ABBYY FineReader PDF for Mac is compatible with M1 and M2 Macs but only when utilized with Rosetta, a program in macOS that converts software designed for Intel processors to run on Apple Silicon chips. There is no Mac version of FineReader PDF that is natively compatible with M1/M2 chips. Nonetheless, one of the best desktop OCR programs for both Mac and PC remains ABBYY FineReader PDF.

While the quality of the original document impacts the accuracy rate, FineReader PDF's OCR text recognition ability is exceptional and undoubtedly the finest on the market. The original formatting of the scanned document, including text size, font styles, photos, tables, and layouts, is preserved. It also excels in quickly and precisely recognizing text. Below are the steps to perform OCR:

  1. Launch ABBYY FineReader PDF.
  2. Select the "Searchable PDF" option, which allows you to open a PDF and convert it into a searchable PDF. You can also save the converted PDF files.

Best OCR For Mac, Figure 2 - The ABBYY FineReader source dialogue.

To learn more about ABBYY FineReader, visit their website.

2.3 Readiris 17

Mac users can employ ReadIris 17 as an OCR solution. Despite its primary use on Windows, ReadIris has developed an OCR-capable PDF reader and editor for Mac users.

With ReadIris 17, users can easily merge, split, protect, and sign PDFs. The offline Mac OCR software allows the conversion of PDF files into Word, Excel, Searchable PDF, or PowerPoint while preserving the document format. However, the freemium version imposes limitations on the number of pages that can be scanned at once.

Best OCR For Mac, Figure 3 - A PDF In ReadIris 17 with the text Hello world!.

I inputted an image into the software and attempted to extract text from it. Additionally, it captured the visible on-screen elements. Some post-processing might be required.

To learn more, see the Iris website.

2.4 IronOCR

IronOCR enhances Tesseract in comparison to the standard Tesseract library, providing a native C# OCR library with improved accuracy, performance, and stability. It enables extraction of text from PDFs and images using .NET tools and websites. Supporting a wide array of foreign languages, IronOCR can output plain text or structured data. It's capable of reading barcodes and images with embedded text. Applications developed in Dot NET console, web, MVC, and desktop can leverage the Iron Software OCR library. The development team offers direct support for commercial deployments. IronOCR is compatible with the latest versions of Visual Studio.

Advantage of IronOCR

  1. Utilizing the modern Tesseract 5 engine, IronOCR can scan paper documents, barcodes, and QR codes from various images or PDF files. This package simplifies the integration of OCR into desktop, console, and web applications.
  2. With IronOCR's assistance, we can perform OCR, converting scanned PDFs into searchable PDFs.
  3. IronOCR supports 127 different languages globally, in addition to custom languages and word lists.
  4. The software can read over 20 different types of barcodes and QR codes.
  5. IronOCR provides both barcode data and plain text output. Developers can access all content for direct input into a system through an alternative structured data object paradigm. This includes logically organized headings, paragraphs, lines, words, and characters in online applications.

For further information, see the IronOCR website.

OCR Processing Using IronOCR

IronOCR, a robust OCR library, enables the conversion of PDF documents and data access. It facilitates the transformation into machine-readable text for efficient analysis and processing without compromising data privacy. Here's an example of how IronOCR is utilized to extract text from an image using OCR:

var Ocr = new IronTesseract();
Ocr.Language = OcrLanguage.EnglishBest;
Ocr.Configuration.TesseractVersion = TesseractVersion.Tesseract5;

using (OcrInput ocrInput = new OcrInput("Demo.gif"))
    OcrResult ocrResult = Ocr.Read(ocrInput);
var Ocr = new IronTesseract();
Ocr.Language = OcrLanguage.EnglishBest;
Ocr.Configuration.TesseractVersion = TesseractVersion.Tesseract5;

using (OcrInput ocrInput = new OcrInput("Demo.gif"))
    OcrResult ocrResult = Ocr.Read(ocrInput);
Dim Ocr = New IronTesseract()
Ocr.Language = OcrLanguage.EnglishBest
Ocr.Configuration.TesseractVersion = TesseractVersion.Tesseract5

Using ocrInput As New OcrInput("Demo.gif")
	Dim ocrResult As OcrResult = Ocr.Read(ocrInput)
End Using
VB   C#

In the provided code snippet, we enhance Iron Tesseract with features. An OcrInput object is created to simplify the addition of one or more image files. When using the Add method of the OcrInput object, specify the image's path in the code. You can use as many invoice photos as needed. By parsing image documents and extracting results into the OCR result, we utilize the "Read" functionality of the previously constructed IronOCR object to access images. It can extract text from images and convert it into a string.

Best OCR For Mac, Figure 4 - A PDF opened in Adobe Acrobat with the text Hello world!.

The output below displays text extracted from the provided image, confirming correct extraction has been performed. IronOCR also supports various output formats for saving results.

Best OCR For Mac, Figure 5 - The text Hello world! is displayed on the command line.


Multiple OCR tools available in the market allow data processing from invoices. OCR processing of images enables the translation of text data from provided images. The first two OCR tools enable automated scanning and data validation by processing invoice data without manual data entry. These tools tend to be expensive and often require an active internet connection, limiting their usability to specific environments.

On the other hand, IronOCR supports various .NET projects, including .NET Framework Standard 2, .NET Framework 4.5, and .NET Core 2, 3, and 5. It also works with contemporary technologies like Xamarin, Azure, MAC, and Mono. IronOCR enhances Tesseract's output and corrects inaccurately scanned words or images using IronOCR methods. The complex Tesseract dictionary system is managed by the NuGet Package. The Iron OCR Library is utilized to create an OCR tool. Thus, IronOCR is the ideal invoice OCR software for automating invoices and extracting data with minimal coding.

Supporting numerous image formats, PDF files, and MultiFrame TIFF, IronOCR offers a seamless experience without requiring additional setups. It goes beyond optical character recognition by providing barcode identification capabilities for extracting data from images containing barcodes. A free trial of IronOCR's affordable development edition is available, and a lifetime license is included with the purchase of the IronOCR bundle. The IronOCR bundle offers excellent value as it provides a single pricing covering multiple systems. For more details on IronOCR's cost, please visit the IronOCR website.