Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This question already has an answer here:

I have a GIGANTIC .TIF file.

I scanned in a book a few days ago and I accidentally scanned it as a multi-page .TIF. I really want to turn it into a more accessible .PDF file.

Do you have any idea how this can be done?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Tog, 8088, Marcks Thomas, Renan May 6 '13 at 1:46

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

"GIGANTIC" is somehow subjective. You could improve your question, if you give some numbers: Number of pages and size of TIF file (compressed or not) would be a good starting point. – mpy May 5 '13 at 8:27

If you are fine with just converting the file format (without making the text searchable (via OCR as pointed out by Jonathan Ben-Avraham), this will be a perfect task for convert from the ImageMagick package (available for various platforms: Win, Linux, Mac).

Simply use that command to convert your multi-page TIFF file

convert multi-page.tif book.pdf

However, you should employ the -compress Parameter. If you have a 24bit colored TIF, you can use LZW (lossless) or JPEG (lossy), e.g.

convert -compress LZW multi-page.tif book.pdf

If your TIFF is black and white (please make sure, it is really saved with only 1bit colordepth), I usually use -compress Fax.

Here is an example for a 5 page sample file, with some text in it -- the actual ratio between the compression algorithms depends of course on the content of your file:

24bit JPEG:  1294kB
24bit LZW:   1759kB
1bit  Fax:    135kB

After that conversion you still can run a OCR tool (like Adobe Acrobat Pro) to make the text search- and copyable.

share|improve this answer
Many thanks for -compress Fax flag which is especially useful for book scans. – firegurafiku Jul 14 '15 at 16:13

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is a pixel-oriented format that is intended for images. In order to get just the character data from a TIFF file you would have to use an OCR (Optical Chararacter Recognition) program. All OCR programs have some error rate. The format of the pages (header, footers, section headings, etc) also affect the ability of OCR to accurately guess the characters.

The language and particularly the writing system and font also affect OCR accuracy. If the book has an unusual non-western font with ligatures then the chance of getting goot OCR output are close to zero.

If the book is not primarily text, for example, a book with many screen shots or other images that are important, then OCR will not help you.

There are some Open Source OCR programs available, depending on the OS you are using. Google Drive has a free OCR service. WMMV.

Assuming that the original book you scanned is in paper format, then TIFF is about the best you can do in any event. You can make the document size more manageable by compressing the TIFF file. Try JPEG compression with various levels of compression to optimize document size against readability.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .