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OCR Software: Need To Know About Optical Character Recognition

OCR programs read the text in PDF files, photos or scans and convert them into digital text. There are a few businesses and free OCR instruments. Despite the severe level of exactness, even the best text acknowledgement programming isn’t 100% precise.

What Is OCR Software?

OCR is a tool that can perceive texts and characters, for instance, on photographs, checked archives, letters and notes or PDF records, read them and make them accessible for additional handling. The truncation means “Optical Person Acknowledgement”. Various OCR programs are accessible that distinguish individual texts with fluctuating levels of exactness and convert them into an editable configuration. Text acknowledgement programming comes in three classes: online directly in the program, disconnected as a download, or a combination of both. For this situation, OCR programming is utilized, which peruses the texts on the nearby gadget.

What Is Text Recognition Software Used For?

If you have received a document or letter in a personal or professional context and wish to archive it digitally, you likely have already come across optical character recognition. Even if the paper can be scanned, the format is unsuitable for further use. Instead of laboriously transposing content manually, OCR software reads it and allows you to archive and edit it on your computer or smartphone. OCR software is also used in other industries. Some of these you may already be using without even realizing it. 

For example, translation apps that read texts via your smartphone camera use optical character recognition. Vehicles that automatically recognize traffic signs and inform the driver also use this technology. The same goes for tools that capture credit card information via your camera. Authorities and companies automatically read addresses, personal data or license plates. It is also possible to prepare texts, signs or photographed images with screenshot programs for further processing with just a few clicks.

How Do OCR Tools Work?

To understand how optical character recognition works, you first need to know where the primary problems lie when scanning a cleanly typed document. Even after a scan, the analogue sheet is nothing more than a graphic for the computer, made up of many pixels with different color values, but providing no other information. This is where text recognition software comes into play. It not only scans the document but also analyzes it. Through several stages, the OCR program recognizes known patterns, which are then identified as individual letters and translated from the image into text in sentence form.

How Accurate Is Optical Character Recognition?

The accuracy of OCR tools varies by program. Research in this area has been ongoing for many years, so modern text recognition software already offers significantly better results than ever before. However, paid professional solutions are usually less accurate than free, lightweight tools. However, making a judgment is difficult because the source material also plays an important role. While most programs do well with black letters printed in Latin script on a white background, deviations from this ideal pattern are much harder to identify. 

East Asian fonts, for example, pose big problems even for professional OCR software due to their thin but meaningful lines. Logos, graphics, special characters, small letters or blurry copies also pose a big challenge for OCR programs. Spelling errors in the source material are also a hindrance, as many programs recognize not just individual letters but entire words. The most significant variations, even within individual OCR tools, occur in reading handwritten text. The results would be better if the document were written in block letters than a hastily written note in italics. Ultimately, text recognition using OCR technology does not offer a hundred per cent certainty of correctness and must always be checked to verify its accuracy.

What Are OCR Programs?

The range of OCR programs is vast. If you want to use an offline version, you will find many of the functions you need in the software you are already using. The best-known example is Adobe Acrobat Pro, which is mainly used to create and edit PDF files. The paid tool also offers the ability to search for text content in PDFs or images. Some Adobe Acrobat alternatives that work with PDF files also provide similar options. However, there is also software designed exclusively for text recognition with OCR technology:

  1. Abbyy FineReader is the leader in this field and relatively accurately scans even complicated documents using artificial intelligence. However, at almost 200 euros, professional OCR software prices are high, and companies pay even a little more.
  2. A free alternative is Readiris, also available for Mac and PC, which offers many features.
  3. Cloud-based solutions include Microsoft OneNote or Evernote. The latter offers a free version and several paid ones.

If you need the services of text recognition software only sporadically, it is usually sufficient to use an online tool :

  1. SimpleOCR and OCRspaceare two reliable solutions.
  2. With the appropriate license or subscription, you can also use Google Document AI or Amazon Textract Online at no extra cost.
  3. Tesseract is the reference point for professionals. The command line tool has been under development since 1985 and has been available as an open-source solution since 1996. The engine supports over 100 languages but requires some programming knowledge.

How To Choose The Right OCR Software?

OCR software must meet several requirements. Not all functions are necessary, but when combined, they often provide even more accurate results, saving time and effort. It would help to consider what purpose you want to use an OCR program for. For simple PDFs, standard free or inexpensive programs are usually sufficient. However, these solutions are limited when dealing with historical documents, yellowed notes, long-kept letters or smudged copies. In addition, it makes sense for people with low vision to look for OCR software with more functions, even in combination with a screen reader.

When Should You Use Commercial OCR Tools?

Now the question of the convenience of the costs of a professional program arises. For individuals, the costs can be immense, sometimes close to 500 euros. It’s too much for sporadic use. However, if an OCR tool is helpful for your day-to-day business or-invoicing, the money is well spent. The better the results and the more intuitive the use, the more useful the software is for your company. The difference between premium solutions and free alternatives is usually a more comprehensive range of features that, at best, make for more accurate results.

Conclusion: OCR Software For Every Purpose

The optical character recognition segment is not only getting more extensive but also more and more reliable thanks to AI and other developments. Due to their sometimes high prices, paid OCR programs with many features are especially useful for professional or at least regular use. For occasional use, the optical character recognition available free online is sufficient.

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