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Free OCR Online - Convert Files to an Editable Format

by Hung Nguyen

You can also read this article in Portuguese.

Utilize Smallpdf's powerful OCR technology to convert your PDF files into editable formats, such as Word, Excel, and PPT.

Have you ever scanned physical documents to PDF and cannot save them into an editable format within Word? Or have you taken photos of your printouts and cannot edit them in PPT?

This happens when your scanner or camera save the documents as image files, and whichever software you have used previously did not have access to 'OCR technology' to convert the files into an editable format.

What is OCR?


To simply put, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is the process where each character on your document in scanned individually, as opposed to saving the document as an image file - in JPG. With an OCR online software, each character image will translate into machine-encoded text, which will allow editing after you convert these files, usually from PDF into another format. For an in-depth analysis of OCR, check out this Youtube video on 'How does OCR Work?'

There are, of course, hundreds of usage for OCR technology. Many use cases involve scanned documents, including textbooks, invoices, financial statements...etc. On top of that OCR software is also used as to process JPG or PDF that had been saved from camera photos.

The Solution


Smallpdf boasts the most popular online PDF converter, to seamlessly save PDF files to JPG, Word, PPT, and Excel.

On top of that, we're excited to announce the latest iteration of our own OCR software into our converter - the Smallpdf OCR online service. With this, you can now convert scanned documents and photos to editable Word, PPT and Excel files via our OCR online technology. Follow the instructions below:

  1. Choose the tool that you wish to use via our homepage, i.e., PDF to Word

  2. Upload your files that require our PDF OCR software into the toolbox

  3. And that's it. Smallpdf will automatically recognize the file as a scanned document and activate our OCR online tool. You don't have to enable this setting at all manually.

  4. Download your editable document afterward.

  5. Note: The PDF OCR tool may take slightly a bit more time to construct your PDF files into an editable format. When this happens, you will see the message below.


Smallpdf OCR Online in action

Free Online OCR


Our PDF OCR software, as well as the rest of Smallpdf, is free to use!

Why? Smallpdf was created as a solution to common painful PDF problems, such as compression, conversions, and the need for a good OCR online tool. We aim to keep our tools as accessible and easy-to-use as possible.

We are able to keep our platform running for 18 million monthly users thanks to all the kind users who have decided to upgrade to a Pro account - which also grants them with unlimited to all Smallpdf tools.

Speaking of Pro subscriptions, a Pro account will also enable you to process as many files as you'd like. For people who scan a large number of documents, this is for you!

To 'batch process,' drag-and-drop as many scanned PDFs or photos into our toolbox, and we will simultaneously convert them, one-by-one!

batch split

Batch Processing

How to Edit Files after Using OCR


After converting your files into an editable format using our PDF OCR software, you can simply open and edit them in their native format.

However, if you wish to edit to convert them back to PDF, for ease of sharing and storage, we have 18 useful PDF tools to help you out, including:

Again, all 18 tools, including the free OCR software is available for you to use online, via our homepage.

The PDF format was created with the dream of a paperless office in mind. As such, we will continuously work on improving our free OCR online service, along with all of our tools to meet this needs.

If you have any feedback, feature requests or comment on how to improve our PDF OCR software, we're only an email away. Otherwise, check out our latest integration with OCR technology via one of our tools!


'Optical Character Recognition'

Hung Nguyen
Hung Nguyen
Marketing Manager
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