Looking for Free OCR for Mac? 6 Free Tools to Do OCR on Mac

Looking for Free OCR for Mac? 6 Free Tools to Do OCR on Mac

2020-12-11 11:26:00 / Posted by to OCR PDF Follow @ admin

If you are looking for free OCR for Mac, then you are in the right place.

OCR (optical character recognition) enables you to convert typed, printed or handwritten text into searchable and editable data from scanned PDFs or photos of documents. To perform OCR on Mac, you can use dedicated OCR software. Also, apps such as OneNote have an OCR feature. Some OCR tools are available as apps, which you can install on your computer and smartphone. And some are web-based services. This article will focus on free OCR tools available for macOS.

Facts to know about free OCR

  Free OCR Paid OCR
Cost Free Not free
Easy to use Yes Yes
Speed Low or moderate High
Accuracy Low or moderate High
Keep formatting No or poorly Yes
Batch OCR No Yes
Support for multipage files Poor or moderate High
Support for large files Poor Great
Supported output options Limited Many
Offer advanced options or features No Yes

Undoubtedly, the biggest advantage of free OCR tools is that they are free to use. They are also more instantly usable compared to their paid counterparts because they don’t require purchase. Online services don’t even require installation.

Despite being free of charge, some free OCR software and services can actually do a decent job of OCRing text content. When it comes to text with little formatting and no tables, the free tools talked about in this article could be useful enough. However, if it’s a scanned document with dozens or hundreds of pages, a free OCR app for Mac will very likely have problems handling it.

Suppose you have a scanned document that contains text, images and tables. If you need all the content and formatting and expect a good OCR result, then free OCR will be of little help. In such a case, you need professional OCR software for Mac.

The best free OCR software for Mac


Compatibility: macOS 10.10 or later

Called OCR Scanner with LEADTOOLS SDK at the Mac App Store, OCRApp is an easy-to-use free OCR app to perform optical character recognition on scanned PDFs and images. This free OCR for Mac supports five languages including English, Spanish, French, German and Italian.

  1. On your Mac, open OCRApp.
  2. Click Open Document in the toolbar.click Open Document
  3. Import an image or a scanned PDF file.
  4. Click Recognize in the toolbar.
  5. Find the extracted text in the Page Text box.

The extracted text is searchable, selectable and copyable.

The app also enables to you save the extracted content to multiple formats. Here's how. After Step 5, click Save in the toolbar. In the Save OCR Document window, click the three-dot icon next to the File Name box. Give the file a name and choose a destination folder. Click the Format dropdown list and select a desired format. Click OK. Note that there are extra options for some of the available output formats.

Save OCR Document window


  • Support both PDF files and image files
  • Let you extract text from scanned files
  • Also let you convert a scanned document to Word, searchable PDF, etc.
  • Simple and user-friendly interface
  • Provide multiple output formats for conversion


  • No way to drag and drop files
  • Images missing after conversion
  • Bad at keeping formatting
  • Crash when importing PDFs of more than 50 pages

#2 PDF OCR X Community Edition

Compatibility: macOS 10.8 or later

With a very simple and easy-to-understand interface, this free OCR Mac app can help you OCR and convert PDFs and images to searchable PDFs or plain text files. It can recognize more than 60 languages. The default language is English. To access more, you need to install language packs.

  1. Install the app on your Mac. Open it.
  2. Drag a scanned document into the app. Alternatively, you can import a file by clicking Select file.
  3. In the OCR Conversion Settings window, choose an output format.OCR Conversion Settings window
  4. This step is optional. Install the language pack that you need.
  5. Choose an output folder of your choice or stick to the default one.
  6. Select the quality level of the input file, which can help you get a better OCR result.
  7. Click Convert.

Note that the Community Edition only works with one-page PDFs or the first page of a multipage PDF. PDF OCR X Enterprise Edition supports multipage PDFs, but you need to pay to upgrade to the edition.


  • Easy to use
  • Work with PDFs and images
  • Support over 60 languages
  • Let you select the input quality level to improve OCR result
  • Make one-page scanned documents searchable


  • Can’t fully support multipage documents
  • Relatively low speed
  • Only offer two output formats

#3 Microsoft OneNote

Compatibility: macOS 10.13 or later

OneNote is one of the best and most popular note-taking apps. It supports OCR, enabling you to copy text from a picture or scanned PDF and paste it in your notes or elsewhere. It can only extract content to plain text. As a result, you may need to do post-OCR editing where you add formatting (and correct OCR errors if any).

  1. On your Mac, open OneNote.
  2. Drag and drop a file. If it's a PDF file, you need to choose to insert it as printout.
  3. Control-click a picture or a page of a document and choose Select Copy Text from Picture or Copy Text from This Page of the Printout.the copy text option
  4. Paste the extracted text where you want.

If you are an OneNote user who is looking for free OCR for Mac to help you extract plain text content from a scanned document or an image containing text, you can try OneNote. Sometimes, when you add a file to OneNote and try to extract text from it, you won’t find the copy text option. In such a case, you can wait until it appears or try something else.


  • Instantly available for OneNote for Mac users
  • Very easy to use
  • Support pictures and PDFs


  • Limited OCR capability
  • Only deal with one page at a time
  • Not available sometimes
  • Can only extract text, without keeping images, formatting, etc.

#4 Evernote

Compatibility: macOS 10.13 or later

The popular note-taking app Evernote can also offer free OCR for macOS. Once a scanned document (as a PDF or picture) is added to a note, Evernote will automatically perform OCR to make the text content on it searchable. If you want to copy the text or convert it to any desired format, Evernote OCR won't help.

  1. Open Evernote on your Mac.
  2. Add a scanned document to the app.
  3. Enter a word in the search box. OCR will be activated automatically, and the app will start looking for the word in existing PDFs and pictures.OCR activated


  • Easily available for Evernote for Mac users
  • Work with your handwritten notes and the scanned documents you add
  • Support 28 languages
  • Support two input file types: PDFs and pictures


  • Only make text searchable
  • Won’t let you copy text or convert it after OCR
  • Not working sometimes
  • Can’t deal with large files

The best free online OCR services for Mac

#1 Google Docs

Offered within Google Drive service, Google Docs is a web-based word processor. If you open a scanned PDF to Google Drive and open it with Google Docs, it will be automatically OCRed. Thanks to the editing tools available in the word processor, you can easily edit the OCRed content online if you want to.

  1. On your Mac, go to Google Drive and sign in.
  2. Upload your scanned or photographed document or piece of text to Google Drive.
  3. Double click the file. Click the Open with dropdown menu and choose Google Docs.
  4. To download the OCRed document, click File > Download and select the format you need.

In Step 3, if the Google Docs doesn’t appear, you can convert your file to PDF first and try again.


  • Easily usable, requiring no installation
  • Support over 200 languages
  • Provide multiple output formats to download OCRed content
  • Let you do post-OCR editing right away with Google Docs editing tools


  • Can’t OCR images
  • Can't retain images, tables, layout, etc.
  • Can’t deal with large files

#2 Free Online OCR

Here’s another free online OCR for Mac as well as other platforms. The service is free to use and requires no registration. It allows you to OCR 15 files per hour, which is pretty generous compared to many other online services.

  1. Open your web browser and go to https://www.onlineocr.net/.
  2. Click Select file and upload a scanned document.upload a scanned document to OCR
  3. From the language dropdown list, select the language you need.
  4. Choose the desired output format.
  5. Click Convert.
  6. Click Download Output File.


  • Easy to use and straightforward
  • Support multiple languages and output formats
  • Can handle both images and PDF files


  • Can’t work with files larger than 15 MB
  • Only OCR the first page of a multipage document for free
  • Slow to upload and OCR a file

Bonus tip: Get better OCR results with professional OCR software for Mac

What is free OCR for Mac isn’t useful enough? You may need professional optical character recognition software if you:

  • need higher accuracy.
  • deal with a large file.
  • have a document with over 50 pages.
  • want to do the OCR offline, without uploading your file to an online service’s server.
  • want to batch OCR multiple files to improve efficiency.
  • want to have control over the recognition to get a more desired result.
  • ...

Enolsoft PDF Converter with OCR is a powerful, easy-to-use and cost-effective OCR app for Mac.

  • OCR PDFs and images accurately and quickly
  • Excel at keep the original layout and formatting and images
  • Allow you to bulk OCR files
  • Fully support large files
  • Perfectly work with multipage documents
  • Let you OCR all pages or selected pages of a file
  • Recognize 27 languages
  • Convert native/scanned PDFs and images to 16 formats such as searchable and editable PDF, Word, PowerPoint, text, EPUB and more
  • Easy to use and customize
  • Support macOS 10.10 or later, including macOS 11 Big Sur

Free Download

  1. Download and install the software on your Mac. Open it.
  2. Drag one or multiple PDFs or pictures into the app.
  3. Select a language or stick to the default one, i.e. English.
  4. This step is optional. Switch from All Pages to Range and specify a page range.
  5. From the output format menu, choose the format you need.
  6. Click the Convert button.

This Mac OCR app automatically detects different types of content such as text, images and tables. Before you click the Convert button in Step 6, you can click Advanced Settings to preview and adjust the detections if needed.

preview and adjust


This article recommends the best free OCR for Mac, including desktop software and online tools. They can be enough for simple text with minimal formatting. If one of them can’t meet your needs, you can effortlessly try another. To perform OCR on certain scanned documents, you will need sophisticated OCR software.