Bluebeam Revu allows you to work with both raster and vector PDFs. Raster PDFs are scanned documents, while vector PDFs are computer made, using a CAD program. If your PDF has text on it, Revu will only regognize it as text in vector PDFs. In raster PDFs, text will appear to the program as pixels, and Revu will not be able to edit or search through that data. However, there is a way around this. If you are using a scanned document, you can convert scanned text into editable text using Optical Character Recognition. Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, allows Revu to scan through the your PDF to identify and transform scanned text into text-searchable data. If you are utilizing Bluebeam Revu 20 or below, OCR is only available in the eXtreme edition. If you are using Bluebeam Revu 21, OCR is availble with all license types.
 
This article will show you how to use Optical Character Recognition in Bluebeam Revu. The following examples are from Bluebeam Revu 2019 eXtreme edition. However, the process will be the same for all versions of Revu from 2018 up.
 
Identifying Raster and Vector Documents
 
To run OCR, you’ll want to first open up a scanned, raster text document within Revu.
 
Here, I have a document that I want to search through. To make sure that this document is fit to use OCR with, I need to make sure that this is a scanned document. You can check what type of document you’re using by zooming in on it. If the document’s images become pixelated, you are working with a raster, scanned document. On the other hand, vector documents will stay clear no matter how far you zoom in. In this example, the text becomes pixelated as I zoom in, indicating that this is a scanned document.
 
You can also determine whether you’re using a scanned document by selecting the text on the page. If you can select the text on a PDF within Revu, you’re working with a vector document. If the text will not select, the document is a scanned, raster document. You can select text within Revu by using the Select Text button at the bottom of the screen. As you can see, the text within the page is not selected – this lets us know that Revu doesn’t understand this data as text. If we need to edit or search through the text on this page, we will need to first run Optical Character Recognition.
Select Text on a Scanned Document to see if you need to use OCR Optical Character Recognition in Bluebeam Revu 2019

Running Optical Character Recognition

To run OCR, navigate to the Document dropdown menu and select OCR.
Select Text on a Scanned Document to see if you need to use OCR Optical Character Recognition in Bluebeam Revu 2019
The OCR dialogue box will appear, where you can adjust the tool’s settings. First, there is the Files section, where you can choose the pages of the document you want to run the tool on. You can add additional files here on as well to make this a batch process.
 
Next, there is an Options section where you can determine the OCR settings. Under Language, you can choose from a list of language libraries to scan the document with. The American English library is loaded by default. If you had a multilingual document, you could choose to scan multiple languages. Next, you can choose the Document Type that Revu will be searching through: CAD Drawings, Tables and Forms, or Text Documents. Depending on your selection, you may also be able to choose what to Optimize For, with the choices of Speed and Accuracy.
 
For my document, I’ll select English as my language, Text Document as my document type, and optimize for Accuracy.
Select Text on a Scanned Document to see if you need to use OCR Optical Character Recognition in Bluebeam Revu 2019

There are a few additional options available to you via check boxes. You have the option to:

  • Correct Skew, which allows Revu to correct any angular deviations in the text.
  • Detect Orientation, which allows Revu to detect and correct the page orientation if needed.

  • Detect Text in Pictures and Drawings, which allows Revu to scan any text in graphics or pictures.

  • Skip Vector Pages, which allows Revu to skip pages with vector content – as these pages will not need to be adjusted. This will speed up the overall process.

  • Page Chunk Size, which allows you to determine the maximum number of pages processed through OCR at one time. Increasing this may increase the speed of the process, but take more of your computer’s power. Generally, 1 is the recommended setting for Page Chunk.

  • Max Vector Size, which allows you to set the maximum vector size that will be analyzed during the OCR process. Decreasing this may increase the speed of the process, but also may cause OCR to ignore larger font sizes.
For my document, I will check the boxes for Correct Skew, Detect Orientation, and Detect Vertical Text.
Select Text on a Scanned Document to see if you need to use OCR Optical Character Recognition in Bluebeam Revu 2019

Once you have adjusted the settings, press OK to run Optical Character Recognition.

Select Text on a Scanned Document to see if you need to use OCR Optical Character Recognition in Bluebeam Revu 2019

Once OCR has completed, the text on the document will be selectable and searchable. I can double check that everything ran as it should have by grabbing the Select Text tool and trying to select the text once again.

Select Text on a Scanned Document to see if you need to use OCR Optical Character Recognition in Bluebeam Revu 2019

As you can see, the text is now selectable. Now, you can now perform text edits using the Edit PDF Content tool, or run searches using the Search panel.

Select Text on a Scanned Document to see if you need to use OCR Optical Character Recognition in Bluebeam Revu 2019

Summary

In conclusion, Bluebeam Revu’s Optical Character Recognition is a valuable tool for working with scanned documents. If you need to work with text in a raster document, OCR will convert pixels into editable text content. Once run, you can work with your scanned document’s text as if it were a raster document. This allows you to perform both edits and searches on the PDF. If you’re using an older version of Revu, OCR is only available in Bluebeam Revu eXtreme. However, the tool is available within all Bluebeam Revu 21 license types. If you know that you will need to handle raster PDFs quite often, you may want to look into purchasing one of these Revu versions.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please use the comment section on the bottom of this page, and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to get more Bluebeam tips & tricks directly in your inbox!

Lauren Hecker is a Bluebeam Certified Instructor and teaches Onsite Bluebeam Certified Courses, virtual Bluebeam Basics and Advanced courses, and custom onsite or virtual courses. To see her next open enrollment course, please visit our calendar. To schedule an onsite or custom course, please contact us!

4 Comments

  1. Ore

    If the OCR scan is missing smaller font sizes, do I reduce the Max Vector Size or Increase it?

    Reply
    • Lauren Hecker

      Hi Ore,

      Try increasing Max Vector Size to its highest setting. This may not fix your issue, but it will ensure that none of the fonts are determined “too big” for OCR to search through.

      Let me know if that helps!

      Reply
  2. k-ron

    is OCR available with trial version of Bluebeam Revu 21? I get an error message when trying to install it.

    Reply
    • Lauren Hecker

      Hi K-ron,
      OCR should be available with all Revy 21 license types. It may not be active during the trial version, but will install with the full program when a license is purchased.

      Reply

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