Over the years I have used some productivity programs designed to increase my ability to interact with files digitally. From the Epson professional series scanner for the family history project to document scanners, I have considered many. For a long time I used Evernote, but between the cost and frankly the lack of quality in what I was scanning, plus the incredible frustration of getting things out of Evernote made me walk away from that platform.
That said, which of course I just did, I get asked all the time what the best OCR (Optical Character Recognition) package you’ve found is. First off I do most of my work digitally now, but there are still instances where I need to convert things. I have a book scanner (CZUR) that works well scanning in pages of books. If I need to do that, but when it comes to conversion, I usually consider one option.
I was, for a long time an Omnipage user. In fact, I started using Omnipage many years ago when I was a Macintosh user. It was the most accurate OCR platform back then by a significant factor. So for many years I dutifully upgraded and kept my copy current. About eight years ago I was introduced to another company and another product ABBYY, and the FineReader product. My last update of Omnipage was four years ago. I haven’t looked back, updated or even used the product since then. Why? Because FineReader is barred none the best OCR package, I’ve found. It also has its mobile application for your phone. So the answer today to the question what and how do I convert paper into digital is FineReader from ABBYY!
In the best sense of customer service, I should tell you that I have moved away from the FineReader for home use. I use the professional product. The reason for the professional over the less costly home version for me is the ability to script folders. I get locked PDF files all the time that didn’t require locking. There is a need for locking files and protecting information. But when you send a locked PDF file to someone on your team, by all means, understand that what happens next is your fault. If you get secured PDF that should be locked, and you open that file, then what happens next is your fault.
FineReader is a great program, and the new version (14) has a spotless new interface. Overall it is my only OCR package now. It does a great job with converting and saving to the PDF Format. It also does an excellent job of converting JPEG images of text, into editable text. That helps when I am turning whiteboards or other written information into a digital file.
I have converted up to 100 pages in less than two hours, with roughly a 98% reliable conversion rate. There are a few things that still cause OCR packages trouble. The biggest is documents that have scribbles and notes handwritten on them. Which by the way is something I am guilty of scanning frequently? I do like to take notes on paper still. FineReader does a good job of converting those overall, but like anything that is more dependent on my handwriting than on the OCR engine.
One of the things I get all the time is questions. What is the best package for doing this? What is the best package for doing that? If you have those questions or just questions, send them to me. I will see if it is something I can answer. Sometimes, it may take some time. (What is the best drone. Well that depends wholly on where you are using that drone and many other questions).
My rules for recommendations of products is that it has to be something I use personally. It is the same rule I have for crowdfunding product reviews. If I am not a backer, I do not recommend the product on my blog, ever. That is my hard and fast rule for product reviews. I also don’t review products that people send me for free. I get those from time to time and I will not review something I didn’t buy. The reason for that is commitment. If I can’t be bothered to buy something and someone sends it to me then by default any review would be, well biased at best.
Best OCR package I’ve used: ABBYY FineReader.
Long time OCR person