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OCRing PDFs with PowerNotes

Posted On
July 26, 2021
Featured In
October 10, 2022
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Reformatting PDFs to be compatible with PowerNotes

When you’re working with a PDF, PowerNotes can automatically detect if the PDF is not compatible with our tools. If a PDF is not compatible (doesn’t have ‘text’, so you can’t highlight anything"), it must be processed and have its code reformatted - this process is known as “OCRing”.

If an issue with a PDF is detected, a red banner will appear in the PowerNotes Extension sidebar. You will need to select what language the PDF is in and then hit the “Process PDF” button.  

For free PowerNotes accounts, there is a 20 page limit per document. For premium accounts, an unlimited number of pages can be OCR’d per document. But documents with over 200 pages must be submitted to the PowerNotes Team for manual processing.


Depending on the number of pages and the quality of the document, processing can take several minutes. While a PDF is processing, the banner will turn orange.  



Once a PDF is done processing, you will need to download it to your computer. It is important to note that the processed PDF is a different document than the original PDF. Make sure the processed PDF is saved somewhere on your computer that can be a permanent home for it - if you move the processed PDF from “downloads” to “documents” after you’ve highlighted it, the links won’t work as PowerNotes will not be able to “find it” it later. When the processed PDF is downloaded and placed where you want it, open it in your browser. With the processed PDF open in your browser, you should be able to make highlights and take notes on it.



While processing a PDF should make it more compatible with PowerNotes, the process isn’t perfect and you may still encounter some difficulties.

Some PDFs will not be able to be processed at all. If this is the case, you’ll see an error message. We encourage you to submit the PDF directly to the PowerNotes team by clicking on the Feedback button in the banner or on the pink Feedback button in the sidebar so that we can further investigate.


If you come across a PDF that needs OCR processing and the OCR banner does not appear in the sidebar, you can manually process the document. Just click on the Feedback link in the sidebar and then click on the link to run the OCR process manually.



Upload print content to PowerNotes

If you’re working with a print out or physical book you can upload it to PowerNotes, highlight it and annotate just like any other digital source. Just follow these steps:

  1. Take good photos of the pages you would like to highlight with PowerNotes.
  2. Email the photos to yourself or use Dropbox to save them to your desktop.
  3. Open the photos and save them as a PDF.
  4. Right click on the PDF and open it in your browser. Make sure you have the PowerNotes extension enabled.
  5. The PowerNotes Extension should notify you that the PDF needs to be processed. Process the PDF.
  6. Download and open the processed PDF. Now, depending on the overall quality of the document, you should be able to use PowerNotes on the content.

For more info on how to use all of PowerNotes’ features, check out this helpful blog post.