How to Convert an Image With Handwriting to Text Using OCR
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Do you need to digitize handwritten notes to edit or index them? Or would you like to copy text from the picture of a handwritten quote? What you need is something called an optical character recognition (OCR) tool How to Extract Text From Images (OCR) How to Extract Text From Images (OCR) The best way to extract text from an image is to use optical character recognition (OCR). We show you seven free OCR tools for the job. Read More .

OCR tools analyze the handwritten or typed text in images and compare it with fonts in a database How to Find Free Fonts Similar to Paid Fonts by Appearance How to Find Free Fonts Similar to Paid Fonts by Appearance Finding the perfect font can be a challenge, especially if you can't afford to pay for one. But with these tools, you'll be able to find free alternatives within minutes. Read More or check it against known features of letters. Some tools even have spell checkers that give additional help in the case of unrecognizable words.

Here are six of the best OCR tools available.

1. Microsoft OneNote

Availability: Windows, Mac, Web, iOS, and Android

Microsoft OneNote is actually a digital note-taking program. Some people use it as an alternative to similar programs like Evernote Evernote vs. OneNote: Which Note-Taking App Is Right for You? Evernote vs. OneNote: Which Note-Taking App Is Right for You? Evernote and OneNote are amazing note-taking apps. It's hard to pick between the two. We compared everything from interface to note organization to help you choose. What works best for you? Read More .

Right-click on an imported picture and you’ll see the option to Copy Text From Picture. Use this command to extract letters from the image and convert them to text you can edit.

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This option works in seconds, and Microsoft OneNote is a free, cloud-based program The Only OneNote Guide You'll Ever Need The Only OneNote Guide You'll Ever Need OneNote is a powerful note-taking app. It's cross-platform and well integrated into Microsoft Office. Read this guide to become a OneNote pro! Read More that you can use across various devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers.

However, it falls short in terms of accuracy for handwritten letters. It does best with printed text, such as that from a business card.

Download: Microsoft OneNote for iOS | Android (Free)

2. Microsoft Office Document Imaging

Availability: Desktop only

There is another OCR-based resource embedded into older versions of the Microsoft Office suite that you might not be aware of. Known as Microsoft Office Document Imaging (MODI), it also turns image-based text into an editable kind. Unfortunately, this handy tool was discontinued in the Office 2010 update, but there are still ways to access it:

You can find more detailed setup instructions at this Microsoft Support thread.

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Once you have MODI available to you, open the handwritten image or picture file in it. Click on the eye icon (Recognize Text With OCR) and then the Microsoft Word icon, which sends the converted file to that program and opens it.

MODI, too, struggles with handwritten text, but typed text in images is likely converted relatively well. Give it a try if you have Microsoft Office How to Legally Download Office 2016 & 2013 Free From Microsoft How to Legally Download Office 2016 & 2013 Free From Microsoft If you own a product key for Microsoft Office, it's really simple to download the installation files direct from Microsoft and it's free. We'll show you all your options. Read More on your computer.

Download: Microsoft Office 365 for desktop ($10 to $149 for home-use license)

3. Simple OCR

Availability: Desktop only

This freeware tool recognizes approximately 120,000 words and allows you to add more words to its dictionary. Boasting up to 99 percent accuracy, SimpleOCR even identifies formatted text, and it’s possible to set it to ignore formatting, too.

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Use the despeckle or noisy document feature if the handwriting you’re converting is messy.

SimpleOCR is a speedy tool, especially since you can set it to decipher whole documents, portions, or multiple documents in batches.

However, the aforementioned accuracy rating is clearly for printed text in pictures and not handwritten media. When comparing SimpleOCR with either of the Microsoft tools, you’ll probably find the latter works better.

Download: SimpleOCR for desktop (Free)

4. Online OCR

Availability: Web

This straightforward website allows you to go through the process of uploading an image, choosing an output format, and downloading the completed file in less than a minute.

Registration is not required for basic use of this free site. You’ll just have to complete a captcha.

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However, during a test of a PNG photograph of handwriting to TXT format, Online OCR spit out random gibberish that failed to match the handwriting at all, so use this tool with a grain of salt.

Because it’s cheap and easy to use, there’s no harm in seeing if you get better results.

One possible perk of Online OCR is it recognizes many languages.

Try: Online OCR (Free)

5. TopOCR

Availability: Windows only

Using a sourced image captured by a scanner or digital camera, TopOCR offers a dual pane format that displays the original image on the left and the conversion on the right. Expect it to work reasonably well if your handwritten text appears from left to right. If it features columns, the program will likely not be accurate.

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TopOCR is efficient, supports 11 languages, and has a PDF export feature. The free trial version is capable enough to enable you to easily verify whether or not it will work for your needs and make a decision about buying the full, feature-unlocked program. One possible limitation of TopOCR is it only works on Windows computers.

Download: TopOCR (Free trial or $4.99 for full program)

6. FreeOCR

Availability: Windows only

Made for the Windows platform, FreeOCR works with images and PDFs. Conversion time is very fast, but accuracy is dismal 4 Free Online OCR Tools Put to the Ultimate Test 4 Free Online OCR Tools Put to the Ultimate Test With advances in OCR technology, converting text and Images from your scanned PDF document into the editable text formats is easier. We tested a few free online OCR tools so you won't have to. Read More .

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The original technology that runs FreeOCR was never designed to interpret handwritten text. However, some users say after they used the program for that purpose repeatedly and carefully followed instructions in users’ guides and forums, accuracy got better.

Download: FreeOCR (Free)

How Many Images Will You Convert to Text Now?

Despite how much people love OCR tools What's The Best Free OCR or ICR Program For Manuscript Transcription? What's The Best Free OCR or ICR Program For Manuscript Transcription? I'm looking for a free Optical Character Recognition (OCR) or Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) program to scan my old manuscripts from images or photographs so I can convert them into Microsoft Word files. Read More when they discover them, these websites and apps aren’t super well known. Now that you know about them, how many images will you use them on?

If you found this article because you’re trying to digitize your handwritten notes, you might want to start looking into digital note-taking A Quick & Dirty Guide to Perfect Digital Note-Taking A Quick & Dirty Guide to Perfect Digital Note-Taking Learn how to take notes the right way. Here are some of the most effective tips for becoming a digital note-taking pro. Read More .

Do you know of any other OCR tools that aren’t mentioned here? Tell us about them in the comments section below!

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  1. Bob McBob
    November 8, 2017 at 3:40 am

    Ridiculous. The title of this page is "Convert Images with Handwriting to Text with OCR". None of the tools listed here actually converts images with handwriting to text. Thanks for wasting my time.

  2. David
    August 10, 2017 at 1:15 am

    "Here is a list of OCR tools we found. None of them work well on handwriting, but we got you to click into our website and show you our ads."

    Thanks?