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I have written before about the benefits of a paperless office, the zen feeling of being able to walk into the room and not somersault headfirst over a stack of paper and break your neck. But when you have reams of paper, how do you get all of that printed text converted into something that a digital program will be able to recognize and index? Yes, that’s right, you use an OCR service or app.

Text extraction with OCR Top 5 Free OCR Software Tools To Convert Images Into Text Top 5 Free OCR Software Tools To Convert Images Into Text Read More is a subject which we have covered endlessly, since MUO’s birth back in 2006. But the OCR apps in this area keep expanding, so here are 5 others you should look at, if you are looking to extract that text from a scanned document The 3 Best Free OCR Tools to Convert Your Files Back Into Editable Documents The 3 Best Free OCR Tools to Convert Your Files Back Into Editable Documents Believe it or not, some people still print documents to physical pieces of paper. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software takes those printed documents and converts them right back into machine-readable text. We've found some of... Read More .

1. FreeOCR

We start with software, entitled rather imaginatively, “FreeOCR”. It’s a Windows-only app, which works on all PC’s running XP and upwards (although if you are using XP, you will need to install an extra part).

FreeOCR works for TWAIN scanners, PDF files, and TIFF images, and outputs the text into a Microsoft Word file. To use this app, you will also need to download the Google Open Source Tesseract OCR engine.

2. FreeOCR to Word

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This is the one I liked the most as it accurately transcribed what I had given it. The company behind the app promises 99.8% accuracy, and the app also retains the original formatting. As the title implies, the text and formatting are transferred into an editable Word document, but text (.txt) files are also possible.

It recognizes all of the main image formats, as well as Photoshop files. It’s just a shame though that all of these great apps are Windows-only. Where’s the love for Mac and Linux owners?

3. gImageReader

This one takes us back again to Google’s Tesseract OCR engine, which acts as the engine room to this rather well designed graphical frontend. The reader was handy because it automatically detects the page layout. Or if it makes a slight boob of it, you can manually readjust the areas.

The text is placed to the right of the image / scanned document, so you can see if everything is being taken down as it should. It does basic editing of that text, as well as spell checking The Top 5 OCR Spell Checking Tools The Top 5 OCR Spell Checking Tools Read More (if you downloaded the relevant dictionary).

4. Capture2Text

This OCR tool serves a double role. First of all, it is a screenshot tool which then takes the screenshot and converts it into the Windows clipboard. You can then copy and paste the text into anywhere you want.

Secondly, it has voice recognition technology which transcribes your words for you. The site says this is experimental so don’t expect perfect results at the moment. Those with dreamy sultry accents like mine may experience difficulties.

5. VueScan

And you thought we would end without some Mac love, didn’t you? Well fear not, OSX’ers! If you need to do any OCR then here is VueScan to the rescue. It links to your scanner, and one of the advantages (the site actually lists it as a con) is that it is a very lightweight basic program. No bloat, but not too many features either. But it’s easy to install, easy to use, and it does its job, which is the main thing.

So which OCR programs float your boat? Are you a Google Drive OCR user perhaps? Or a user of another we haven’t covered here ? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit: Paperless sign (Shutterstock)

  1. Stefan
    February 3, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Looking for OCR that retains (saves, keeps) the images - that is in-text pictures, images or illustrations in place after the OCR is over. Does nobody care about that?? Searched over dozens of OCR reviews, not even a single one mentions a bit on how the software deals with internal graphic. On the entire internet there seems to be not even a single sreenshot of OCR software processing graphical element - only the text. Is graphics in books so unimportant to anybody? Frustrating.. wrrr

  2. May Zhu
    October 27, 2015 at 5:35 am

    Yunmai Technology is also a professional developer of (Optical Character Recognition) OCR software. It has been one of the best mobile OCR technology and application developers in the industry. Yunmai Document Recognition developed by Yunmai Technology is really nice. And it is free.

  3. bostongeek
    May 10, 2015 at 2:17 am

    "a9t9 free ocr" is an *open-source* program that does exactly what FreeOCR does, but without the spyware and actually better ocr results: http://blog.a9t9.com/p/free-ocr-software.html

  4. Michael Maher
    February 17, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Have tried three times to subscribe.... but so far nothing in my inbox to confirm??

    • Mark O'Neill
      February 18, 2015 at 12:17 am

      What exactly are you referring to? The MUO newsletter? If so, check your spam folder. Sometimes, these things get caught up in there.

  5. Rob
    February 16, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    If only I had these suggestions when I was at university :( I've always wanted searchable forms of all my photocopies from my studies though... perhaps when I have a few weeks spare, I could work on this with one of these recommendations..

  6. Marc
    February 16, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    FreeOCR could not be downloaded, because AVAST antivir deletes it.

    FreeOCR to Word is infected with 6(!) drive by installations and one behaviour scanner...

    Thanks a lot!

  7. Steven Avery
    February 14, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    Abbyy Screenshot Reader has done a great job for me for 100s of OCR (often google books) for years. Sometimes inexpensive, sometimes it has been available free.

  8. George Klein
    February 14, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Mark,
    As a bichon frisé owner myself ( if you still remember Kicsi) I thank you for mentioning VueScan, the program I've been using for a while for scanning documents, as a text extraction tool from scanned images. Not that I will use it often, but it's good to know it exists in case I'll need it.

  9. Isaac J. Harris
    February 14, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    The FreeOCR to Word link sets off my virus scanner which is completely blocking the page. It doesn't like the favicon.ico for the page.

    • Mark O'Neill
      February 14, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      That's very strange. All I can say is that it worked for me. Maybe a false positive?

  10. Paul R
    February 14, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    FreeOCR was pretty good when I tried it a few years ago. It had a very easy to use interface, which was especially helpful when trying to convert those image PDFs that aren't text.

    The best OCR that was free, however (free in a manner of speaking) was that connected with OneNote. It will not only take screenshots, but also let you save them as a PNG, and also convert any text in an image into, well, text. I found of all the screenshot utilitites and free OCR, that OneNote was the best at taking the original screenshot, and then converting text inside that actual editable text. If you have MS Office, of course, it is "free."

    Its the only program that automatically starts with Windows on my laptop, apart from antivirus and Malwarebytes.

  11. Ziaur Rahman
    February 14, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Awesome, Thanks for sharing.

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