ABBYY FineReader Pro review

Convert and edit PDF files with ease with this text-recognition app that’s almost always spot on


PDF files are very popular in the business world – and with good reason. They’re easily readable (Macs have a built-in reader in the Preview app), they rarely come in large file sizes and they’re relatively secure. But, unfortunately, they’re not editable. If you wish to make changes to a PDF document, you have to add annotations and notes that are usually unsightly and annoying. ABBYY FineReader Pro, a multi-language text- recognition app, enables you to convert a PDF to a .doc file and edit it from there – as if you had created the file as a .doc in the first place.

The process is pretty simple, too. Just open up the app and choose what format you wish to convert to (in addition to the .doc functionality you can convert to Excel, PowerPoint, ePub and more), open up the file you wish to convert and you’ll have the new file in a few minutes.While the text recognition in our tests was almost perfect (a couple of Hs read as ‘Fl’ aside), the app was let down a touch by its formatting recognition – especially when trying to open the converted doc files in open- source word processors like OpenOffice. Results in Pages, however, were a lot better.

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 FineReader doesn’t just work with text; it also works as a JPEG image converter. In fact, there’s even a rudimentary image editing toolset that enables you to crop, rotate and enhance your documents before converting them. You can also import images to convert the text that they contain into documents. Basically, this means you can turn your iPhone or standalone camera into a scanner. Results from the camera weren’t as impressive as the PDF conversions – even when taken in good lighting with the iPhone 5s’ brilliant camera.

If you find yourself needing to edit text from PDFs often, then FineReader Pro 12 is a great option. It’s doesn’t come cheap, but the results speak for themselves. It’s fast, accurate, works well with Pages and Microsoft Word and it could save you a lot of time in the future. It’s certainly a niche app, but it’s one that does its job well.