I have a PDF which is a scan of a few pages of a book. I want to be able to search inside this PDF for specific terms. I know OCR can be performed on files in Google Drive. However, I don't seem to be able to initiate this manually, and the PDF I upload doesn't seem to have selectable text (I can't even search for phrases in it from the search bar in Google Drive). Is there a way to "force OCR" it?

  • It only seems to have converted the actual text in the PDF; it didn't OCR anything
    – user170838
    Nov 11, 2017 at 5:12

2 Answers 2


Now that you uploaded a scanned PDF (or an image file), do this:

  1. Browse to the GDrive web interface.
  2. Right-click on your uploaded image file.
  3. Invoke the Open with > Google Docs menu command.

See the relevant Google Drive help page for details and tips. E.g. the text must be right side up and in a common, readable font; the file should be 2 MB or less, and the text should be at least 10 pixels high.

See this Tuts+ tutorial for more details and tips.

Another tip: Web search for GDrive OCR finds these articles.


PDFs which are scans and don't have embedded text info will be OCRed when uploaded. Drive will not add the text data to the file, but it will enable the file text to be searched in Drive.

Of course, opening the PDF as a Google Doc will show the OCR text which can then be edited and made "pretty".

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