Any Favorite OCR Apps?

Based on this thread below - it go me thinking to ask what are the best OCR apps for Mac these days?

and also free Apple Live Text…

It depends on what I’m OCRing. For simple things I use CleanShot. Does a great job.

For longer documents still using my ScanSnap with built-in OCR software.


For existing PDFs, I use the free CLI ocrmypdf with a Keyboard Maestro macro using the selected file(s) in Finder.

For paper, ScanSnap.


I use as the “build in” engine within Devonthink and (as far as I remember) ScanSnap


Prizmo and Nitro PDF Pro do the trick for me, both are also in Setapp. Other than that Devonthink has a decent OCR functionality. Between these 3 apps I have cracked some difficult OCR problems.

Live Text in Apple Photos is totally neat, and basically the only form of OCR I ever use. Also, the OCR used by Google Translate when uploading an image, very useful for signs or menus in a language you don’t fully (or at all) master.

It has been years since I needed to lift text from a printed page, most everything in my workflow is already digital and easy enough to copy/paste.

Keep in mind that most applications, with the exception of ABBYY, use the Tesseract engine. There is no way an indy developer creates an OCR engine all by himself.

ScanSnap uses ABBYY.
ocrmypdf is basically a shell around Tesseract (and a useful one!)

There really isn’t that much to choose. Even though devs try to make you believe differently.


For anyone interested, here’s a look at a few relevant actions from my Keyboard Maestro macro that uses ocrmypdf:

  • The teal section is a handy action I reuse to split up the components of a path (parent path, filename, base name, extension) into variables. Here they are used to build the variable Local__Output which tells ocrmypdf what to name the ocr’d pdf.
  • The basic syntax for ocrmypdf is ocrmypdf input.pdf output.pdf so this macro runs a shell script where input is the selected file(s) in Finder and output is the variable created by the previous action.

Thanks for all the great responses everybody!

ABBYY Finereader (Best OCR software for Mac®| FineReader PDF for Mac®), the stand-alone app that seems built around the same engine that DevonTHINK also uses (which I also often use in simpler scenarios). But Finereader offers more functionality and settings for outputs (especially the separating of page spreads to single pages), which may help you. I’d recommend it fully. When I bought it, it was a one-off license fee, but from the website it seems you now pay an annual cost, so it ain’t cheap!

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ABBYY’s engine is still the best. By far.

Their Mac application is horrendous though. As is their support. Which is basically non-existent.


I’m using Owlocr. It works most of the time, one time purchase.

Bought it as a one-off license last black friday (I think. Last year anyway). The App Store store entry still lists a lifetime license in-app purchase.

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I have a few Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners installed at my office and home. It comes with ABBYY as the OCR engine. Works great!

Bud James

Please check out my fine art and travel photography at

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WOW - Beautiful Photography!

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The new PDF Expert for Mac seems to use Apple’s Live Text/Vision API (or whatever it’s called). It’s incredibly fast (on Apple Silicon at least), uses multiple CPU cores (unlike DEVONthink, ABBYY, and others), and seems very accurate. I just OCR’d a 1000-page scan and my jaw hit the floor.

I’m really hoping DEVONthink switches over from ABBYY.

Regarding CLI-Apps I would, besides the already mentioned ocrmypdf, also recommend pdfsandwich. It performs OCR (underlying engine: Tesseract) and also straightens pages and removes dark edges, so it’s especially useful for manually scanned books/documents.

Available via homebrew.

Thanks for this tip — I just installed it, and it looks like it’ll work well.

I ditched Scansnap years ago. I use Readles scanner pro which stores in the iCloud folder. The I set up Hazel to transfer to Devonthink.

Therefore I just scan on my iPhone and it appears straight in Devonthink on the Mac

Since macOS Mojave, in the EagleFiler app I’ve been able to select “Import from iPhone” and then point and click with my iPhone to scan a document directly into EagleFiler.

I assume other apps can do this, too. Continuity Camera was a macOS feature not particular to any app.