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Short Description
OCRmyPDF adds an OCR text layer to scanned PDF files, allowing them to be searched.
Full Description


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OCRmyPDF adds an OCR text layer to scanned PDF files, allowing them to
be searched or copy-pasted.

.. code-block:: bash

ocrmypdf # it's a scriptable command line program
-l eng+fra # it supports multiple languages
--rotate-pages # it can fix pages that are misrotated
--deskew # it can deskew crooked PDFs!
--title "My PDF" # it can change output metadata
--jobs 4 # it uses multiple cores by default
--output-type pdfa # it produces PDF/A by default
input_scanned.pdf # takes PDF input (or images)
output_searchable.pdf # produces validated PDF output

Main features

  • Generates a searchable
    PDF/A <>_ file from a regular PDF
  • Places OCR text accurately below the image to ease copy / paste
  • Keeps the exact resolution of the original embedded images
  • When possible, inserts OCR information as a "lossless" operation without rendering vector information
  • Keeps file size about the same
  • If requested deskews and/or cleans the image before performing OCR
  • Validates input and output files
  • Provides debug mode to enable easy verification of the OCR results
  • Processes pages in parallel when more than one CPU core is
  • Uses Tesseract OCR <>_ engine
  • Supports more than 100 languages <>_ recognized by Tesseract
  • Battle-tested on thousands of PDFs, a test suite and continuous integration

For details: please consult the documentation <>_.


I searched the web for a free command line tool to OCR PDF files on
Linux/UNIX: I found many, but none of them were really satisfying.

  • Either they produced PDF files with misplaced text under the image (making copy/paste impossible)
  • Or they did not handle accents and multilingual characters
  • Or they changed the resolution of the embedded images
  • Or they generated ridiculously large PDF files
  • Or they crashed when trying to OCR some of my PDF files
  • Or they did not produce valid PDF files (even though they were readable with my current PDF reader)
  • On top of that none of them produced PDF/A files (format dedicated for long time storage) I decided to develop my own tool (using various existing scripts
as an inspiration).


Linux, UNIX, and macOS are supported. Windows is not directly supported but there is a Docker image available that runs on Windows.

Users of Debian 9 or later or Ubuntu 16.10 or later may simply

.. code-block:: bash

apt-get install ocrmypdf

and macOS users may simply

.. code-block:: bash

brew tap jbarlow83/ocrmypdf
brew install ocrmypdf

For everyone else, see our documentation <>_ for installation steps.


OCRmyPDF uses Tesseract for OCR, and relies on its language packs. For Linux users,
you can often find packages that provide language packs:

.. code-block:: bash

Display a list of all Tesseract language packs

apt-cache search tesseract-ocr

Debian/Ubuntu users

apt-get install tesseract-ocr-chi-sim # Example: Install Chinese Simplified language back

You can then pass the -l LANG argument to OCRmyPDF to give a hint as to what languages it should search for. Multiple
languages can be requested.

Documentation and support

Once ocrmypdf is installed, the built-in help which explains the command syntax and options can be accessed via:

.. code-block:: bash

ocrmypdf --help

Our documentation is served on Read the Docs <>_.

If you detect an issue, please:

  • Check whether your issue is already known
  • If no problem report exists on github, please create one here:
  • Describe your problem thoroughly
  • Append the console output of the script when running the debug mode
    (-v 1 option)
  • If possible provide your input PDF file as well as the content of the
    temporary folder (using a file sharing service like Dropbox)


Runs on CPython 3.6, and requires external program installations of Ghostscript, Tesseract OCR, QPDF, and Leptonica. ocrmypdf is pure Python, but uses CFFI to portably generate library bindings.

Python 3.5 is fully supported, but support will end at the end of 2017, to allow f-strings in the code base.

Press & Media

  • c't 1-2014, page 59 <>_:
    Detailed presentation of OCRmyPDF v1.0 in the leading German IT
    magazine c't
  • heise Open Source, 09/2014: Texterkennung mit OCRmyPDF <>_


The software is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR
CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied.

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