You may have noticed that paper hasn’t gone away, but the digitalization is slowly taking over. This is where Optical Character Recognition (OCR) comes in. OCR software makes it possible to digitize the printed or handwritten documents by making it editable by word processing programs.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a program that can convert scanned, printed or handwritten image files into a machine-readable text format.
Maybe you have a book or receipt that you typed or printed years ago and you want it put in a digital format but you don’t want to retype it. OCR can be very useful in such a case.
We can also use this wonderful technology to accurately extract text from images, convert a printed table into an excel spreadsheet or an old book into a PDF with searchable texts underneath the page images.
In this article, we will introduce you the best free and paid OCR software on the market.
How to choose which OCR software to download?
This is the main question that you might have before downloading an OCR. We will help you choose by answering more specific questions:
- Does it support multiple file formats?
- Does the OCR software have language recognition?
- Can you use an OCR tool online?
- Does it recognize the text from image files?
|Rating (1 to 5)||Free/Paid||Multi-language recognition||Desktop/Online||Support 24/7|
|Readiris||5||Paid (has trial)||Yes||Desktop||No|
|ABBYY Fine Reader 14||4||Paid||Yes||Desktop||Yes (phone)|
|Microsoft One Note||3.5||Free||Yes||Desktop||Yes|
|Boxoft Free OCR||3.5||Free||No||Desktop||No|
|ABBYY Fine Reader Online||4||Free||No||Online||No|
Readiris is the latest version of this high-performance OCR software. It comes with a new interface, new recognition engine, and faster document management.
You can easily convert to many different formats, including audio files thank its verbal recognition.
Readiris is one of those extremely powerful OCR software that requires less effort to get started. Though it’s a paid program, you get what you pay for. Readiris supports most file formats and comes with other attractive features that simplify the conversion process.
For instance, images can be sourced from connected devices like scanners and the application also allows you to adjust processing parameters such as DPI adjustments.
Once processing is complete, Readiris determines the text sections or zones and lets you extract texts from either a specific zone or from the entire file.
Readiris has a rare cloud saving feature that allows users to save the 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.Best quality choice
ABBYY FineReader (suggested)
ABBYY FineReader is the most powerful OCR software on the market and is the best tool for anyone who needs fast and accurate text recognition.
This OCR handles high volume work perfectly well and comes with advanced correction tools for difficult tasks.
The superb verification tool easily corrects doubtful readings by making a neat comparison between the OCR texts and original.
ABBYY Finereader does more than you would expect from an OCR. Is it that 500 pages old book you want to be converted to searchable PDF? The application handles it with utmost precision.
ABBYY will extract the most accurate texts from the images found on the web.
In addition to that, it can convert a scanned document into HTML or into the ePub format used by e-readers. The paid version starts from $199 and there is a 30 day free trial period.Best choice
Microsoft OneNote can also be used as an OCR despite its functionality as a note keeper.
There is an option named ‘Copy text from picture’ that allows you to extract text from images.
Its simplicity is what makes it unique; just insert the picture to OneNote, then right-click on the picture and choose ‘Copy text from picture’ and OneNote will do the rest.
It saves the texts to a clipboard, then you can paste the text into Microsoft Word or any other program of your choice.
However, it doesn’t support tables and columns.
Update: The latest iteration of OneNote that comes with Windows 10 doesn’t have OCR capabilities. On the other hand, the OneNote that’s the part of the Office suite still can be used as an OCR tool.
SimpleOCR is a handy tool you can use to convert your hard-copy printouts into editable text files.
If you have a lot of handwritten documents and you want to convert them to editable text files, then SimpleOCR would be your best option.
However, handwritten extraction has restrictions and is only offered as 14 days of a free trial. Machine print is free and has no restrictions.
There’s a built-in spellchecker that you can use to check for discrepancies in the converted text. You can also set up the software to read directly from a scanner.
Just like Microsoft OneNote, SimpleOCR does not support tables and columns.
FreeOCR uses the Tesseract Engine which was created by HP and now maintained by Google.
Tesseract is a very powerful engine and is said to be one of the most accurate OCR engines in the world today.
FreeOCR handles PDF formats very well and has support for TWAIN devices such as digital cameras and image scanners.
In addition, it supports almost all the known image files and multi-page TIFF files. You can use the software to extract text from pictures and it does that with a high level of accuracy.
And, just like the other OCR software solutions for Windows 10 from this list, Free OCR can’t translate tables and columns.
Boxoft Free OCR (free)
Boxoft Free OCR is another handy tool you can use to extract text from all kinds of images.
This freeware is easy to use and is capable of analyzing multi-column text with a high degree of accuracy.
It supports multiple languages including English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, German, French, Portuguese, Basque and many more.
This OCR software allows you to scan your paper documents and converts them into editable texts within a very short time.
While there are concerns that this OCR doesn’t excel in extracting text from handwritten notes, it performs exceptionally well with a printed copy.
TopOCR Reader (paid)
TopOCR Reader differs from the typical OCR software in many aspects but performs the job accurately. It works best with digital cameras and scanners.
Its interface is also different as it has two windows – the image (source) window and the text window.
Once the image is sourced from the camera or scanner on the left side, the extracted text appears on the right side where there is 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 tool also comes with camera filter settings that you can apply to enhance the image.
ABBYY FineReader Online (free)
ABBYY FineReader Online is designed for users who want enjoy the powerful features of ABBYY products for free and without installing a software product.
The online version of FineReader supports many input files like PDF, JPEG, JPG, PNG, DCX, PCX, TIFF, TIF, and BMP. Output files supported include PDF, Word, Excel, e-Pub, and Powerpoint.
The free version allows you to convert up to 10 pages per month and it does require you to do a registration first, which is also free.
However, if you are a heavy user and you’d like to convert more pages per month, then you need to subscribe to the paid version.
The subscription starts from $49 for 2,400 pages per year and goes all the way up to $149 for 12,000 pages per year. You can also buy the unlimited version (ABBYY FineReader Pro) for a lifetime fee of $169.99.
The market is flooded with OCR software programs that can extract text from images and save you a lot of time you could have spent retyping the document.
However, good OCR software should do more than extract text from printed documents. It should maintain the layout, text fonts and text format as the source document.
We hope that this article will help you find the best OCR software. Feel free to comment and share.
Does Windows 10 have OCR software?
Yes, the Windows 10 API has native OCR support so that it can be used by all Windows 10 apps, like the Photo Scan app.
Does Word have OCR?
Yes, Microsoft Word has OCR support integrated with its printing feature. If you have issues with Word, make sure to check out our quick fixes.
Is OCR software accurate?
OCR software isn’t 100% accurate, but make sure to get one of the best OCR software tool from this list, such as Readiris or ABBYY FineReader. You can also look into scanner devices with OCR support.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been since revamped and updated in March 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.