Everyone loves free. That is especially true for OCR (Optical Character Recognition) programs that convert printed books and documents into machine-readable text. The best OCR programs cost money… usually a lot of money. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC costs about $400 while Omnipage18 and ABBYY FineReader cost about $150 each. These are excellent, high-quality tools for those who can justify that expense. If I needed to scan thousands of pages of text, I would use one of those products. However, most of us only need to scan a few pages. $150 to $400 prices simply are not cost-justified for smaller projects.
Several online OCR products are available free of charge and produce reasonably good results. Any of them might require a bit of manual clean-up once the conversion has been done but such clean-up work seems reasonable give a price tag of FREE. Best of all, none of them require any software installation in your Windows or Macintosh computer.
The folks at the MakeUseOf web site recently conducted side-by-side tests of 4 different free online OCR products and described the results. The report, written by Rob Nightingale, says that “Free Online OCR was definitely the best free tool we tested. That being said, if you’re willing to pay $5 per month for near-perfection, ABBYY’s FineReader Online was slightly more accurate.”
You can read the report at http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/4-free-online-ocr-tools-put-ultimate-test.
I did notice one error in the report. Rob Nightingale claimed, “I decided to use Evernote’s Scannable app (Free on iOS and Android).” Indeed, there is a free Scannable product for iOS but both the Evernote web site and the Google Play Store both say that Scannable is not available for Android. There may be other inaccuracies in the article as well but I believe the bottom-line test results are correct.