Optical character recognition software converts your PDF files, scans and other images into searchable documents. OCR software saves you the time of having to retype text and re-create documents.
OCR recognition has come a long way since its inception in the early 1990s. Technology today reads with more accuracy in a variety of languages and symbols. It is also capable of re-creating your documents' original layout designs, colors, and font and point size choices. Many businesses use software that combines OCR with other intelligent features which extract data from photocopied, archived forms and input it into existing databases for easy access. And the software companies that provide this technology often also sell the best consumer-based OCR software.
On this OCR Software page, Top Ten Reviews provides a side-by-side comparison of consumer software that comes in a variety of packages. Although they all contain the OCR function, some packages direct your scanner. Others work primarily with PDF documents and other images. Some have many other functions in addition to OCR, while others are primarily focused on converting your hard copy files into searchable electronic documents.
The best, most comprehensive OCR software packages we found that are designed with the consumer in mind include OmniPage Standard by Nuance Communications Inc., Readiris by I.R.I.S. and PDF Transformer 3.0 by ABBYY. The following is a list of criteria we used to evaluate the software.
In OCR software, performance is everything. A program may have a number of features, but it must convert images into accurate, searchable text in a format that is useful to you. As a result, we weighted performance more heavily than our other criteria.
Review each OCR software's feature sets to see which ones provide the functions that will best fit your project's needs. But remember that whether or not a package has a lot of features, it also needs to perform well.
Ease of Use
The alternative of using OCR software is to retype a document yourself. That means the software package has to take less time and be easier to use than re-creating your documents manually. The software should also be designed intuitively so you don't have to hunker down with bulky user manuals to perform basic functions.
Help & Support
When you purchase an OCR software package, you are entering into a relationship with its manufacturer. Available in its box or from its website, a software package should provide an easy-access user manual, tutorials and frequently asked questions, as well as the ability to contact a live person for either customer service or technical support.
Some of our software packages provide a 30-day, money-back guarantee. However, many software manufacturers don't provide such guarantees once you have opened the package. Some provide limited warranties that guarantee that the CD and software will function the way it was intended for an established period following your purchase. Be aware of a software package's warranty before you purchase it.
OCR software today sports improved accuracy and additional features than it did in the 1990s. The best packages will save you time and money, and they will give you electronic, searchable access to your documents. We invite you to review our findings of programs that offer OCR PDF document imaging and the optical character recognition function. Also, check out our articles on OCR software.