I want to use Apple's new Live Text feature to search a PDF for a specific text phrase. The PDF is a large file without any baked-in encoded text. Just many pages of images of scanned text, stored in a PDF.

Per this question, Preview evidently cannot use Live Text in a PDF directly:
Force Preview to Live Text a PDF?

Using File > Export, I can turn the PDF into a multi-page PNG image file.

Once it's an image, Live Text is immediately available. I can select and copy/paste OCR'd text out of the image. I can press ⌘A to select all the text on a single page.

But how can I search the image file for Live Text?

In the image file, Preview's Edit > Find... is not available.

I can copy/paste a single page's Live Text, and then use Find in a text editor. But I can't copy more than one page of the image at a time.

Can I use Find or use Spotlight Search to search Live Text? Please only answers using the new iOS/macOS Live Text feature, not any 3rd party OCR programs.

  • You'd have to automate using Live Text on each image, search the results, flag the page or not, then move on. It could be done with Shortcuts.app. However, despite your protests: this is the wrong tool for the job. You can get a fully searchable layer of text OCRed in a PDF much more easily in a variety of PDF or OCR utilities.
    – benwiggy
    Oct 13, 2022 at 9:34
  • I know I'm not directly answering the question, but it's very much related to it. The Preview app on iOS 16 happens to allow the user to copy text from images embedded in PDF files with no problem. I don't know if this same Live Text capability is also already present in Ventura, as I'm still using Monterey.
    – Ausiàs
    Oct 29, 2022 at 15:59

1 Answer 1


Incase you're still looking for this app, or anyone who does, I made an app specifically for this!

An OCR search app that indexes and searches for text inside the image.


  • Does this use the modern Apple Live Text APIs? Can you expand upon that in your answer?
    – pkamb
    Mar 18, 2023 at 22:00

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