When you want to convert printed or handwritten text into a digital copy, you don’t have to do it manually. You don’t even have to spend a fortune on professional tools. We’ll show you the seven best OCR software that convert images to text for free.
What is OCR?
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software Converts photos, or even handwriting, to text. OCR tools analyze a document and compare it to the fonts stored in their database, and/or by noting the typical features of the characters. Some OCR apps also put it through a spell checker to “guess” unknown words. 100% accuracy is difficult to achieve, but a close approximation is what most programs strive for.
OCR software can be productivity shortcuts for students, researchers, and office workers. So let’s play around with a few more and find the best OCR software for your needs.
1. OCR with Microsoft OneNote
Microsoft OneNote has advanced OCR functionality, which works on both photos and handwritten notes.
Drag a scan or a saved image to OneNote. You can also use OneNote to cut out part of the screen or an image in OneNote.
Right-click on the inserted image and select Copy text from photo. The copied and visually recognized text goes to the clipboard, and you can now paste it back into OneNote or into any program like Word or Notepad.
OneNote can also extract text from a multipage printout with a single click. enter a Multi-page printing in OneNote and then right-click on the currently selected page.
click Copy the text from this printed page To get text from this specific page only.
click Copy the text from all pages of the printout To copy text from all pages in one take, as you can see below.
Note that OCR accuracy depends on image quality as well. This is why OCR is still a bit of a mystery to OneNote and other OCR software on the market. However, it is one of the main features of OneNote that you should use at every opportunity.
Want to know how OneNote compares to paid OCR software? Read the comparison between OneNote and OmniPage.
The problem I was having with handwriting recognition using Microsoft tools could have been resolved by SimpleOCR. But the software only offers handwriting recognition as a 14-day free trial. Although there are no restrictions on the recognition of printing from the device.
The software is outdated and looks outdated as it hasn’t been updated since version 3.1, but you can still try it out for its simplicity.
Set it up to read directly from the scanner or by adding a page (JPG, TIFF, BMP formats).
SimpleOCR provides some conversion control with text selection, image selection, and text muting features.
Converting to text takes the process to verification phase; The user can correct inconsistencies in the converted text with a built-in spell checker.
The converted file can be saved in DOC or TXT format.
SimpleOCR was fine with plain text, but its handling of multi-column formats was disappointing. In my opinion, the conversion accuracy of Microsoft tools was much better than SimpleOCR.
download: SimpleOCR for Windows (Free and paid versions available)
3. Scan photos
Photo Scan is a free Windows 10 OCR app that you can download from the Microsoft Store. Created by Define Studios, the app is an OCR scanner and QR code reader rolled into one.
Point the app to an image or printout of the file. You can also use your computer’s webcam to give it a picture to look at. Unlike many of the other tools in this article, Photo Scan does not work with PDF files. The recognized text is displayed in an adjacent window.
Text-to-speech feature is a distinct feature. Click the speaker icon and the app will read aloud what was scanned.
It’s not great with handwritten text, but the typed text recognition was convenient. When everything is done, you can save OCR text in multiple formats like Text, HTML, Rich Text, XML, Record Format, etc.
download: scan photos (Free, in-app purchase)
4. (a9t9) Free OCR App for Windows
(a9t9) The free OCR software is a Universal Windows Platform app. So you can use it with any Windows device you have. There is also a file Online OCR equivalent It is powered by the same API.
(a9t9) supports 21 languages for parsing images and PDF files into text. The app is also free to use, and ad support can be removed with an in-app purchase. Like most free OCR software, it is idea for printed documents and not handwritten text.
download: a9t9 OCR (Free, in-app purchase)
Capture2Text is a free OCR program for Windows that gives you keyboard shortcuts for fast optical character recognition on anything on your screen. It is also an executable file that does not require installation.
Use the default keyboard shortcut WinKey + Q To activate the OCR process. You can then use your mouse to select the part you want to capture. success Enters To turn on optical character recognition. The captured and converted text will appear in a popup, and by default it will also be available in the clipboard.
Capture2Text uses the Google OCR engine and supports more than 100 languages. Google Translate is used to convert the captured text into other languages. Check the menu in the Windows toolbar to access it Settings, toggle saving to clipboard on and off, or toggle the default OCR language.
download: Capture2Text (free)
6. Easy OCR screen
Easy Screen OCR is not free. But I mention it here because it’s fast and convenient. You can also use it for free for up to 20 times Without any subscription. The program runs from the system tray or the taskbar. You can capture text or upload a PDF, although PDFs are limited to less than 15 pages or 50MB.
To convert text on your screen, right-click on the Easy Screen OCR icon and choose Yasir from the list. Take a screenshot of any photo, website, video, document, or anything else on the screen by dragging your mouse pointer. Then Easy Screen OCR displays a dialog with three tabs. The Screenshot tab gives you a preview of the captured text. Click the OCR button to read the text from the image. Converted text can now be copied visually from the Text tab of the dialog.
You can set the recognition languages for OCR in the program’s preferences. more than 100 languages supportedThe program uses the Google OCR engine.
download: Easy on-screen OCR (Free trial, $9 per month)
Also: OCR with Google Docs
If you’re away from your computer, try the powers of Google Drive’s OCR. Google Docs has a built-in OCR program that can recognize text in JPEG, PNG, GIF, and PDF files. But all files must be 2MB or less and text must be 10px or higher.
Google Drive can also automatically detect language in scanned files, although accuracy with non-Latin characters may not be great.
Sign in to your Google Drive account.
Click New > Upload File. Alternatively, you can also click My Drive > Upload Files.
Browse to the file on your computer that you want to convert from PDF or image to text. tap on Open button to download the file.
The document is now in your Google Drive. Right-click on the document and click Open with > Google Docs.
Google converts a PDF or image file to text using OCR and opens it in a new Google Doc. The text is editable, and you can correct the parts where OCR failed to read correctly.
You can download the exact document in multiple formats supported by Google Drive. choose from File > Download as List.
The Free OCR Software You Can Choose
While the free tools sufficed with typed text, they failed with regular handwritten text. My personal preference for improvised OCR is to Microsoft OneNote because you can make it part of your note-taking workflow. Photo Scan is a universal app in the Windows Store, and it supports line breaks with a range of document formats that you can save.
But don’t let your search for free OCR converters end here. There are many other alternative methods for optical character recognition on your images and text.
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.
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