OCR on iOS and Mac

I am curious what software people use to do OCR on Mac and iOS? I have been using Devonthink on the Mac but not been able to find a great iOS app for importing and scanning PDFs.

I found the PDF Pen scanner a bit clunky and Scanbot sometimes simply refuses to perform a scan. I have contacted Readdle several times requesting the feature be added to Scanner Pro but so far to no avail. There are many good apps for OCRing new scans or importing and OCRing pictures but fewer seem able to import and OCR existing PDFs. I am currently trying out OCR Scanner with LEADTOOLS (all caps for some reason). I make an effort only to implement new workflows that I can make work on both the Mac and iOS since I use both very interchangeably depending on the best form factor for my situation.

I am also curious what people use on the Mac as I may be trading Devonthink for Keep It (still might end up running PDFs through Devonthink just for OCR).

Thanks for your suggestions!

On the iPhone i use Scanbot and Scanner Pro with different success. Depending on the souce-material one or the other works better. But i think we will get new versions of both with iOS 12.

On the Mac Abbyy Finereader (that comes with the ScanSnap Scanner) and that works ok for me.

1 Like

I use scanner pro on iOS and pdfpen pro on mac. They have both been satisfactory for me.

1 Like

For OCR of existing PDFs on iOS I use Prizmo. It’s not perfect, but works offline/on device and the results are good enough for my requirements (I use OCR for highlighting and search, not for extracting perfect plaintext). It seems to be in maintenance mode though, as the company is focusing on their newer subscription based app Prizmo Go.

On the Mac I’m using Abbyy FineReader Express.

1 Like

I’m using Scanbot Pro on the iPhone, which automatically saves the OCR’ed PDF to my OneDrive for Business account and at home my networked Canon MX925 multi-function produces about the best, in terms of speed, convenience and scan/OCR quality documents. These then get saved to a folder on my Mac and then they are bounced around with a few Hazel rules, starting off with a “PDF” folder and from there to an assortment of locations, including DEVONthink.

I tried using the scan to OCR functionality of DEVONthink Pro Office but it was significantly slower and the quality of the scans weren’t up to much. The Canon MFP has a pretty good clean-up function, including eliminating show-through almost entirely.

I use Scanner Pro, usually in conjunction with Evernote.

1 Like

I used to use Prizmo and might have to return to it. Glad to hear someone else is using it.

Scanning - ScanSnap, DEVONthink, Abbey Fine Reader For iOS etc

I have, perhaps by chance, read at least two blogs in the last couple of weeks singing the praises of Abbey Fine Reader for iOS. This is a quite expensive App when compared to some well-known alternatives. It leads me to wonder what the deal is with Abbey Fine Reader for iOS. Abbey Fine Reader for iOS does offer extra functionality, ie conversion to PDF/A, word etc & may present documents a tad better than others.

Looking at this was also the catalyst to discover the forgotten Abbey Reader conversion function in Scan Snap. I rarely have problems with PDF’s but sometimes I get strangely created PDF’s that will not print or some other oddity. I have found in the past the PDF conversion tool in DEVONthink has been able to wrangle these PDF’s into an acceptable searchable PDF which can also print in the normal way; so far without fail. I will now experiment with the Abbyy Fine Reader function in ScanSnap.

Back to Abbey Fine Reader for iOS, I am struggling to see a use case for this even though it seems to be a good App. I don’t do much remote scanning, but I also have workaround options with my current iOS Scanning Apps and my Mac OS tools.

I will play around with Abbey Fine Reader for iOS out of curiosity. Any users of this App out there who can comment further?

s/Abbey/ABBYY/ - though I’m not 100% sure of the capitalisation.

1 Like

A year later, how is everyone OCR’ing on iOS and iPadOS? I use PDFExpert and I love that app, but boy I would pay them money for implementing OCR. Right now I transfer PDFs to Scanbot and then back again to do OCR, and that doesn’t always work reliably.

What do people do?

I use FineScanner by ABBYY, which works amazingly well. I’ve never had a document or image that it hasn’t worked well with, and I use it every day. The only downside is the cost (although I don’t have the subscription, I payed upfront for unlimited use).

I use the same OCR engine on MacOS in DEVONthink.

AABBYY is still far ahead of anyone else (outside of handwriting recognition).

Thanks. I’m not really in the market for adding yet another pdf scanner to my lineup. Between Scanbot, which I really like and support, PDFExpert, and the now built-in scanning feature in the iOS/iPadOS Files.app i should be covered. But Scanbit is not actually an ocr-app. So I might look into the one you mention. What I’m really looking for is an easy and fast way to ocr long articles

You can send PDFs and images to FineScanner and it will do the OCR either on device or online.

But it has a subscription right?

I payed the lifetime price, not monthly subscription. I do a lot of OCR for my job though.


I use Prizmo to scan documents. I was with scanbot before but found the cleanup and adjust functionality of Prizmo better. It has cloud ocr which uses Microsoft’s cognitive service cloud but I’m not using that part.

I have it setup to automatically upload to iCloud drive, then use hazel on my server to apply Abbyy OCR through the AppleScript interface. Then put the OCRed files into DEVONthink for sync.

I am also using smart rules inside DEVONthink to auto ocr when a document is tagged with “needs_ocr” and it works fine on the go but standalone abbyy through AppleScript has more options and the quality of the scans was higher. So my flow right now is: scan with Prizmo and it’ll automagically pop up in DEVONthink a little later fully OCRed :slight_smile:

If I really need ocr on the go I use the Prizmo on device ocr which is ok.

1 Like

Guys, fast and reliable batch ocr-scanning of lengthy articles on iPadOS, any suggestions for apps or services, preferably without subscription?

Can I import articles on device into FineScanner and have it OCR on Danish? Do you have a link the app that you recommended, cause there’s about 30 ABYY apps on the App Store

Hi Andreas,

The version I use is https://apps.apple.com/es/app/finescanner-ocr-scanning-app/id534203582?l=en - with the lifetime in-app purchase.

Yes, you can just share from Files and then OCR. Danish is in the supported languages, although I’ve never tried it.

See the screenshot…

1 Like