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 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 .
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.
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?
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 (if you downloaded the relevant dictionary).
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.
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)
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