PDFScanner - Simple document scanning and OCR
By Felix Rotthowe
Open the Mac App Store to buy and download apps.
There are many applications for OS X that allow scanning of images or text. Most of them are however complex, slow or not really suited for scanning documents or letters.
PDFScanner has been created with one simple task in mind: Scanning and archiving documents as quick and easy as possible, and making them findable with Spotlight search.
When performing OCR, PDFScanner adds the recognized text directly to the scanned image as an invisible layer, so the text can be selected and copied just like in other PDF files.
PDFScanner supports the following features:
• Support for all scanners that are supported by the OS X Image Capture application (please check that using the scanner in Image Capture works before purchasing to be sure)
• Optical character recognition to make the document searchable, allow to find it via Spotlight and other search tools or copy the text.
• Supported OCR languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish
• Intuitive and fast user interface to reorder, delete or edit pages
• Fully automatic straightening of crooked pages (deskew)
• Full multithreading support. Scanning, OCR and straightening is done on multiple pages in parallel and you can even reorder or delete pages while PDFScanner is still working
• „Fake Duplex“ mode to simplify scanning of double sided documents without a duplex scanner
• Saving to PDF (optionally compressing the scan inside the PDF to save disk space).
• Customizable file name patterns (include for example date, time and machine name in the filename)
• It is also possible to open or import existing PDF documents and perform OCR on them via a menu option (the language can be set in the Preferences).
PDFScanner runs on OS X Mavericks and Yosemite and is only available on the Mac App Store.
What's New in Version 1.9.2
• Bringing back upside down landscape / portrait modes (by popular request)
• Keeping modification date for in-place OCR in the Automator action
• Bugfixes and performance improvements
Simple, Useful, Time Saving Features - And A Bit More Than Just A Scanner
I’ve been looking for these features for a long time, and here they are in an incredibly intuitive package.
The key features for me are:
1. Clear preview available while scanning.
2. Ability to reorder or delete pages.
3. Excellent OCR. I scanned a document with a variety of fonts. The handwriting generally was not interpreted, but all the printed fonts were fine.
4. Ability to scan text in old PDFs. I imported an old PDF that only had scanned images of text and it interpreted the text almost perfectly.
5. Straightening of crooked pages.
6. Ability to specify the file name and location before saving.
You will have to look very carefully to find the learning curve - it is so easy to miss! The program found my previously installed printer immediately, it took me about 10 seconds to make the one configuration change I needed, and maybe 30 seconds more to find the menu item for doing OCR on old PDFs. Everything else is intuitive.
I wish I was always this satisfied with a purchase.
EDIT: I still like this application a great deal. But even though it is a fine app, over time I have noticed two things that might be improved. First, it doesn’t always discover my scanner. (I am hoping this is a temporary problem relating to some OS X update.) Second, if I leave a scan unattended “too long", I cannot continue. It is as though my session has expired. Even so, I still like the app.
Great scans , nice file size. Just a couple of wishes
This utility works really well. I use it quite often, especially during tax season. I have a 2006 HP Officejet 2410 and it works much better than the printer or the preview’s scan utilties. I’ve recently realized that I can scan several documents and do selective saving as it’s still scanning. It’s such a big time saver over scanning, saving, reloading….scanning, saving, reloading.
There are 2 features that I wish it had. Save to Preview. So it will open the scan in Preview. This gives me the ability to modify or email the PDF before it’s actually saved. And a Scan history feature, so I can locate where I saved my last 10 scans. Much like the Download history button in Safari. I sometimes mistakingly save a scan in the wrong place and there isn’t an easy way to track down where I saved it.
Otherwise, this is a really great, simple scan software.
“Simple” But Powerful
Though I already own a PDF editor that costs six times as much as PDFScanner, I was initially attracted to the app because — as far a I can tell — it's the only one on the market that can quickly and efficiently transform the two-page book scans that result when a book is placed face down on a scanner or photocopier into separate single page scans. While this may seem like a quirky requirement, it makes reading scanned books and articles considerably easier on my iPad and (at least for me) easily justifies the reasonable price.
Since then I've regularly used it to do new scans with my Canon 900F Mark II and have been consistently impressed by the speed and efficiency of the program. The interface is nicely designed and makes book scanning simple and the automatic deskewing feature does a great job of keeping the scans properly oriented. The results of the OCR are on a par with mcuh more expensive programs. PDF Scanner makes my Canon behave like a dedicated book scanner at a fraction of the cost.
I’ve also found that PDFScanner is much more stable than my more expensive app and easily processes large pdfs (i.e., over 200 pages) that routinely crash other apps.
Finally, the developer has been very responsive and quick to answer questions and offer help.