The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.If you have saved a bunch of PDF documents, ranging from single pages of information to entire genealogy books published many years ago, you may have noticed that some of them are searchable while others are not.
When a document is scanned and converted into a PDF file, the resultant file is simply a picture of the original pages. As with any picture, the person viewing the image cannot search for text inside the images. That's true of pictures taken with your digital camera, and it is also true for PDF images. As far as your PDF viewer is concerned, the document doesn't contain any text to edit or search—just one huge graphic.
Some years ago Adobe added an optional capability in its popular PDF creation software. After the creation of the original image, "special processing" could embed searchable text into the PDF file. The ability to add searchable text is optional; the person who creates the PDF file may elect to add searchable text or not. However, not all PDF files are searchable, even today.
Many of the PDF books that you can download from online repositories do not have searchable text. For instance, I downloaded a 999-page book about my family name (History and Genealogy of the Eastman Family of America : containing biographical sketches and genealogies of both males and females by Guy S. Rix, printed 1901) from Google Books and found it is not searchable. Like many older books, this book does not even have a printed back-of-book index! Did you ever try to find a name in a 999-page book by turning the pages, one at a time? Whether turning pages in a printed book by hand or turning pages in a PDF book by using the mouse, it is a tedious process!
If I could convert this PDF book into a searchable PDF, I could instantly search for names. Even better, I could search for locations, occupations, and more. If I wanted to find all occurrences of the word "blacksmith" throughout this 999-page book, I could do that quickly with a searchable PDF. You can't do that with most printed books!
The good news is that Adobe is no longer the only program that you can use to make a text-searchable PDF file. The better news is that you have many options that cost a fraction of the Adobe price. Luckily, there are several products that will convert non-searchable PDF files into searchable equivalents. I can now search this thick book and many others quickly and easily. In this article, I will describe a number of programs that will convert PDF files into searchable PDFs, including programs for Windows, Macintosh, and one program for Linux. Prices vary from free to $449.
The remainder of this article is for Plus Edition subscribers only. SUBSCRIBE NOW to read this article.
If you have a Plus Edition user ID and password, you can read the full article right now at no additional charge in this web site's Plus Edition at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=27075. This article will remain online for several weeks.
If you do not remember your Plus Edition user ID or password, you can retrieve them at http://www.eogn.com/wp/ and click on "Forgot password?"
If you decide to subscribe to the Plus Edition right now, you will be able to immediately read this article online. What sort of articles can you read in the Plus Edition? Click here to find out.
For more information about subscribing to the Plus Edition of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, visit http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/plusedition.html.