OCRmyPDF Docker image

OCRmyPDF is also available in a Docker image that packages recent versions of all dependencies.

For users who already have Docker installed this may be an easy and convenient option. However, it is less performant than a system installation and may require Docker engine configuration.

OCRmyPDF needs a generous amount of RAM, CPU cores, temporary storage space, whether running in a Docker container or on its own. It may be necessary to ensure the container is provisioned with additional resources.

Installing the Docker image

If you have Docker installed on your system, you can install a Docker image of the latest release.

The recommended OCRmyPDF Docker image is currently named ocrmypdf-alpine:

docker pull jbarlow83/ocrmypdf-alpine

Follow the Docker installation instructions for your platform. If you can run this command successfully, your system is ready to download and execute the image:

docker run hello-world

OCRmyPDF will use all available CPU cores. By default, the VirtualBox machine instance on Windows and macOS has only a single CPU core enabled. Use the VirtualBox Manager to determine the name of your Docker engine host, and then follow these optional steps to enable multiple CPUs:

# Optional step for Mac OS X users
docker-machine stop "yourVM"
VBoxManage modifyvm "yourVM" --cpus 2  # or whatever number of core is desired
docker-machine start "yourVM"
eval $(docker-machine env "yourVM")

Using the Docker image on the command line

Unlike typical Docker containers, in this mode we are using the OCRmyPDF Docker container is intended to be emphemeral – it runs for one OCR job and then terminates, just like a command line program. We are using Docker as a way of delivering an application, not a server.

To start a Docker container (instance of the image):

docker tag jbarlow83/ocrmypdf-alpine ocrmypdf
docker run --rm -i ocrmypdf (... all other arguments here...)

For convenience, create a shell alias to hide the Docker command. It is easier to send the input file to file stdin and read the output from stdout – this avoids the occasionally messy permission issues with Docker entirely.

alias ocrmypdf='docker run --rm -i ocrmypdf'
ocrmypdf --version  # runs docker version
ocrmypdf <input.pdf >output.pdf

Or in the wonderful fish shell:

alias ocrmypdf 'docker run --rm ocrmypdf'
funcsave ocrmypdf

Alternately, you could mount the local current working directory as a Docker volume:

docker run --rm -v $(pwd):/data ocrmypdf /data/input.pdf /data/output.pdf

Adding languages to the Docker image

By default the Docker image includes English, German and Simplified Chinese, the most popular languages for OCRmyPDF users based on feedback. You may add other languages by creating a new Dockerfile based on the public one:

FROM jbarlow83/ocrmypdf-alpine

# Add French
RUN apk add tesseract-ocr-data-fra

You can also copy training data to /usr/share/tessdata.

Executing the test suite

The OCRmyPDF test suite is installed with image. To run it:

docker run --entrypoint python3 jbarlow83/ocrmypdf-alpine setup.py test

Accessing the shell

bash is not installed in the image. To use the busybox shell in the Docker image:

docker run -it --entrypoint busybox  jbarlow83/ocrmypdf-alpine sh

Using the OCRmyPDF web service wrapper

The OCRmyPDF Docker image includes an example, barebones HTTP web service. The webservice may be launched as follows:

docker run --entrypoint python3 -p 5000:5000 jbarlow83/ocrmypdf-alpine webservice.py

Unlike command line usage this program will open a socket and wait for connections.


The OCRmyPDF web service wrapper is intended for demonstration or development. It provides no security, no authentication, no protection against denial of service attacks, and no load balancing. The default Flask WSGI server is used, which is intended for development only. The server is single-threaded and so can respond to only one client at a time. While running OCR, it cannot respond to any other clients.

Clients must keep their open connection while waiting for OCR to complete. This may entail setting a long timeout; this interface is more useful for internal HTTP API calls.

Unlike the rest of OCRmyPDF, this web service is licensed under the Affero GPLv3 (AGPLv3) since Ghostscript, a dependency of OCRmyPDF, is also licensed in this way.

In addition to the above, please read our general remarks on using OCRmyPDF as a service.

Ubuntu-based Docker image

A Ubuntu-based OCRmyPDF image is also available. The main advantage this image offers is that it supports manylinux Python wheels (which are not supported on Alpine Linux). This may be useful for plugins.

docker pull jbarlow83/ocrmypdf