Auto OCR Any PDF On Your Mac With Hazel And Some Clever Tricks


Maybe you scan all your receipts and bills, and toss the paper into the recycling bin. Congratulations! You’re paperless. You’re also out of luck when it comes to actually finding any of those scans when you need them. You’ll be stuck flipping through stacks of PDFs as if they were stacks of paper.

Unless you get your Mac to automatically run OCR on those scans, making their text searchable. And then maybe you could have you Mac file them for you too, just like computers were supposed to do for us all along.

Sound good? Then check out this neat tutorial from Mac Power Users’ Katie Floyd, which uses Applescript, PDFPen and Hazel to do it all for you.

You can use any app that can OCR PDFs, but if you want to use Katie’s Applescript you’ll need PDFPen Pro from Smile Software. This is a great Mac app with a terrible iOS companion app, but that doesn’t matter as you will be able to use these processed PDFs anywhere.

You’ll also need Hazel, the amazing Mac automation utility which will do pretty much anything to any file or folder, based on pretty much any criteria. If that sounds vague, it kinda is, but only because Hazel can do almost anything you want it to.

Once setup, Hazel will monitor the folder of your choice (Katie uses the Downloads folder) and perform OCR on any PDFs it find there, using the Applescript to pass them off to PDFPen. Once done, it tags the files to remember which ones it has processed already, and saves them to another folder of your choice.

And being the automation nerd she is, Katie has a whole bunch of other Hazel rules, not covered int his post, to auto-file PDFs based on their contents. You could have boarding passes auto-added to Evernote, for example, or have your paid bills archived in monthly folders. It’s up to you.

I am guilty of scanning and forgetting my paper documents, so I should probably get this setup running on my Mac ASAP.

Source: Katie Floyd


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