Google Chrome Empowers PDF Viewing with Image-to-Text Conversion

News • June 27, 2023

The next time you have to convert images to text in PDFs , you don’t need to rely on external tools like Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader or web app to do the job. As long as you have Google Chrome installed, that’s all you need.

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Image to text

Recently, Google announced an AI-based feature for the Chrome browser on ChromeOS. Leveraging the image description capability of Chrome, this innovative feature will enable you to convert images to text directly within PDFs, OCR-style. Initially exclusive to the ChromeOS version of Chrome, where it already includes a reading mode tool that enhances legibility by enlarging text and modifying fonts, this capability will soon be available across all editions of Chrome.

One particularly noteworthy aspect is the OCR technology specifically designed for image-based PDFs. This means that even when alt text descriptions are absent, the screen reader can convert images into readable text, providing an inclusive reading experience. Moreover, the reading mode offers customization options, allowing you to modify typography, background colors, line spacing, and margins. These adjustments aim to cater to students with dyslexia, ensuring the accessibility of the text format that suits their individual needs.

Google further elaborates on this feature’s development:

In 2019, we launched the capability to obtain image descriptions for Chrome browser, enabling users to access descriptions of unlabeled images. Today, we are building upon that capability and expanding functionality to PDFs. We are introducing the ability to convert images to text within PDFs in Chrome browser on ChromeOS. This means that when a screen reader user encounters a PDF without alt text, the screen reader will be able to convert the image to text and read it aloud. Both the reading mode and image-to-text conversion features will begin rolling out in the coming months.

Additional features

Apart from image-to-text conversion, the Chrome PDF viewer offers an array of other valuable features, including page splitting, form filling and saving, document rotation, saving web pages as PDFs, document signing, presentation mode, easy document navigation, annotation visibility control, and PDF metadata viewing.

For advanced features, dedicated apps

Although the Chrome PDF viewer provides robust functionality for interacting with PDFs, it may not cater to all your advanced needs. In such cases, dedicated PDF editor apps are recommended. Popular options include PDF Expert, Abbyy FineReader, and Adobe Reader. These apps offer comprehensive features and enhanced capabilities when a higher level of power and customization is required.

In closing

Google Chrome’s upcoming image-to-text conversion feature for PDFs marks a significant milestone in enhancing accessibility. This inclusive functionality will greatly benefit you with diverse needs.

While initially available exclusively on ChromeOS, it is highly anticipated that Google will extend this feature to all Chrome users in the future, following the pattern of the previously exclusive reading mode.

Furthermore, Google has plans to expand the feature’s capabilities beyond Chrome, benefiting you across various platforms. As this feature gradually becomes available, it will bridge accessibility gaps and foster an improved reading experience for all.

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