Digitization has taken over a huge part of our lives, but that doesn’t mean that paper documents are going anywhere yet. Documents, books, newspapers, magazines and hand-written texts are still being used and they need a proper transition into the digital world. That’s why you need good word scanning software to transfer those precious pieces of paper text into editable content on your computer. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software used to be unreliable because of missed or misinterpreted letters and symbols. Now the technology has made a major step forward. Scanner software can recognize symbols flawlessly, thus making OCR reliable, convenient and still very necessary for many professions like financiers, lawyers, accountants or even archaeologists. The only challenge is choosing the right software because there’s such a wide selection! To make your quest easier, we’ll give you a short guide on the most popular OCR solutions.
OmniPage has been around for a very long time, since it was created in the 80s, making it one of the first OCR programs to run on personal computers. While the first incarnations weren’t as good, now they’ve built an ironclad reputation for their quality scans. People say that OmniPage has the ability to perfectly mirror layouts, colors and even fonts of original documents. The reason OmniPage OCR is so accurate is its use of 3D correction technology and ability to de-skews images that have been scanned incorrectly. You can also enhance the quality of images by using various manual correction tools. Clients are mostly happy with OmniPage, but there are some drawbacks in interface which makes the user experience a little confusing. Depending on what version you choose – standard or professional – the price can range from $150 to $450.
ABBYY FineReader is a very practical piece of scanner software because it’s simple and versatile. You can extract text from almost any popular image format such as PNG, JPG, BMP, and TIFF. The software can even pull out words from PDF and DJVU files. Once the source file or image is loaded, the program will analyze and detect text from different sections of the file. You can target specific sections or extract text from the whole file. Whatever you choose, the important part is that FineReader picks up words even from very content-dense documents and delivers them flawlessly into your computer. The software also has a huge library of font styles and sizes and a handy arsenal of correction tools. Not cheap compared to other OCR solutions. The cheapest option is over $240, and can jump up to $600.
Microsoft OneNote is a free OCR tool for people who want just the basics and don’t want to spend money on fancy software. It’s mostly known as a note keeper but it appears that OneNote can also be used as a decent OCR engine. The app has an option that allows text extraction from images. The best part is its simplicity: all you need to do is insert a picture and choose ‘copy text from picture’ and OneNote will do the rest. It saves the texts to a clipboard so you can paste the text into Microsoft Word or any other word processor of your choice. However, it doesn’t support tables and columns. OneNote is great carrying out simple everyday tasks, but probably not enough for professionals who might need something more sophisticated and powerful.
Readiris is a very capable OCR solution that supports most file formats and has other cool features that simplify scanning documents – for example, you can source images from connected devices like scanners and adjust processing parameters. Readiris determines text sections or zones and lets you extract texts from either a specific zone or from an entire file. The software also has a cloud saving feature that allows users to save extracted text to different cloud storage services like Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox and others. It also has numerous text editing and processing features, allowing users to even scan barcodes. The subscription starts from $99 and there is a 10-day free trial available.
Free OCR is not suitable for large jobs or overly complex documents, but it’s great for extracting text from basic documents. The online software uses a very powerful engine (Tesseract) that is said to be one of the most accurate scanner software engines in the world today. Free OCR handles PDF formats very well and has support for TWAIN devices such as digital cameras and image scanners. In addition, it supports almost all known image files and multi-page TIFF files. FreeOCR might be basic, but it sure packs a lot of power and useful features. Definitely something worth checking out, if you seek quality but don’t want to pay.
Top OCR differs from typical scanner software but performs just as well. Its interface is unique because it has two windows – the image and text window. Once the image is sourced from the camera or scanner on the left side, the extracted text appears on the right side, next to the text editor. The software supports GIF, JPEG, BMP, and TIFF formats. The output can also be converted into multiple formats including PDF, HTML, TXT, and RTF. The software is completely free and also comes with camera filter settings that you can apply to enhance the image. It works best with digital cameras and scanners.
OCR has finally become smart and reliable. Finally, it’s not the question anymore about software skipping or mixing up letters, because most scanner software recognizes symbols very accurately. Your only worry is figuring out what you need, so focus on choosing the best solution for your personal or corporal needs. Be aware of your expenses but avoid underspending, because in some cases a basic free solution might not be enough for your project, so you’ll need something more high-end and sophisticated. Don’t buy expensive scaner software if you plan to use OCR only for casual for everyday tasks.