PDF OCR/search: documents created with Apple scan not searchable

Testing version: Version 2.0 (10209); iPhone 11 Pro

What were you doing: scanning document

What feature did you use: scan document from Bear; import pdf from Apple Notes

What happened: PDF text not searchable

What did you expect to happen: PDF text searchable

The PDF text search feature works for Adobe-created PDF documents imported from the web and other mobile PDF scan apps (e.g., Scanner Pro). However, it will not work for documents scanned into Bear as PDFs (r-click in note, scan documents) or PDFs imported from the Apple Notes app. PDF text search for the same PDF in the Apple Notes app works but not after the PDF is imported into Bear.

Did you get to test drive the iOS beta early? If so how is it?

This issue still applies to Version 2.0 (10641)

@trix180 @matteo - this OCR search issue is still present in Version 2.0 (10732)

This is not a bug (even if it’s not the desired behavior), the PDFs generated by the Apple document scan don’t contain any text, they are just photos inserted inside a PDF shell.

We can and should run the OCR on PDFs’ pages that don’t contain text, making those pdf searchable (not as good as having real text inside the pdf, but it’ll be good enough).

We’ll see what we can do :slight_smile:


That’s fine. But, if this is the intended behavior, then I would make it very clear to users that their documents won’t be OCR-searchable if they use Bear (or Apple Notes) to scan anything. They’ll have to continue to use a third-party document scanning app and importing them into Bear if they want to search the PDFs.

I have a shortcut to turn PDFs into photos (the action is Make image from PDF page), and those photos are working fine with OCR search. I also find it an easier way to see contents in a note. I wouldn’t use it on a standard PDF, only for handwritten notes. Another benefit is that you can encode to a much smaller size JPG while retaining detail.

From Version 2.0 (10757) update test notes:

Scanned document via the in-app function are now searchable via in-note and note list search

Scanned documents via in-app function will now create PDFs that are searchable and highlighted in the notes list search but not with in-note search.

Also, as implied by the update, any documents scanned with Bear before this update remain unsearchable.