Troubleshooting DevonThink Pro Office OCR Installation

A major selling point of DevonThink Pro Office over its less-featured editions is the ability to create searchable documents from scans. This Optical Character Recognition (OCR) feature converts images to text and then DevonThink lays it out over the original scanned image so that you don’t lose any formatting yet the computer has its textual form that it indexes and you can search for text inside it.

However DevonThink Pro Office’s OCR capability comes as a separate download. This is because it’s really an add-on module that was developed by a separate company: ABBYY, one of the renowned experts in OCR. The first time you try converting an image to a searchable PDF, DevonThink asks you to download this component.

Unfortunately the process of installing it doesn’t always go smoothly. If the download fails mid-way, DevonThink will just try to re-download the entire package again. If this keeps failing, then you’ve got a real problem in your hands. As of this writing, I couldn’t find any article on DevonTechnologies’ support site to fix this issue and Google couldn’t find them either.

DevonThink Pro Abbyy failed install

However, I found a way to manually download and install the ABBYY OCR plugin into DevonThink Pro Office. If you have DevonThink Pro Office and it keeps getting a “The request timed out” error message whenever you try to create a searchable PDF, here are steps how to fix it.

  1. Copy the URL displayed in the error message. This contains a zip archive of the Abbyy OCR framework. If you can’t find it, you can try using this URL: http://s3.amazonaws.com/DTApplicationSupport/Abbyy_i386.zip - but be aware that it may have changed by the time you read this.  
  2. Download that ZIP file using a download manager. I used a Firefox plugin DownThemAll for this. But you can use just about any other download manager as long as it supports resuming interrupted downloads. This is quite important; the reason you need to install it manually is because of a broken download in the first place.  
  3. Quit DevonThink Pro Office. It’s important that you exit the application entirely and not just close all windows. You’ll also need to close the DevonThink Sorter helper application (the one that displays various inboxes). 
  4. Extract the zip archive. You’ll probably get a folder named Abbyy_i386. Rename that to just Abbyy and it to to DevonThink’s application support directory in “~/Library/Application Support/DevonThink Pro 2“. You can do this with a few Terminal commands:
    $ cd ~/Downloads
    $ mv Abbyy_i386 Abbyy
    $ mv Abbyy/ "~/Library/Application Support/DEVONThink Pro 2/"
    
  5. Start DevonThink Pro Office and try to create a searchable PDF again.

If the above steps didn’t work, check whether you moved it to the correct application support directory under the correct name as shown in the screenshot below:

DevonThink Abbyy OCR install location 

Take care and happy scanning!

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