About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

November 14, 2017

Convert a Picture to Text

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 5:40 am

There have been times in my computer career when I have had a real need.  I do not know about you but I bet you may have had this need too.  That is, you have a screenshot or a photo of something with a lot of text printed on it and you would like to retype that information.

It could be a contract you want to edit, a copy of a letter or anything else with text that you would like to edit and/or reproduce.  It happens often in offices. Occasionally someone will send you a PDF file (Portable Document Format) that you cannot make corrections or changes to, then what?

Well, I have a couple of ways you may be able to fix this situation.  There is a term called “OCR,” meaning “Optical Character Recognition.”  OCR is a widely used method of converting printed documentation into text.  Once OCR’d, documents may be stored as a text file, edited, searched or displayed online.

There are many ways to use OCR to convert a printed file to a text file.  I will mention three which I have heard a lot about (in alphabetical order).  Be warned: once converted to a text file there will be errors.  You must proofread them in detail to make sure you have the correct wording.

First up is Google Docs.  You can save a graphic file with text on it to your Google Drive, right click it and choose to “Open with Google Docs.”  It will convert it to a Doc file that you can type in and edit away.

Next, the one I use most often for all of its features is Microsoft’s OneNote application.  With OneNote you use “Insert” then “Pictures” to insert the graphic file.  Next, right click the graphic and choose “Copy text from picture.”  Somewhere near the picture you will have a text box open up ready for editing.

Finally, one of the many online/cloud versions available is “Online OCR”  Click the Select file button, find your photo on your computer, upload it, check the language that it is in, choose the format you want (either .docx, .xlsx or .txt) then Convert.  In a few seconds you can download the finished product.

Now my opinion of the three/four.  The one I had the most problems with was unfortunately Google Docs since I am a Google fan boy.  As I did with all four, I ran several different files and got varying times to finish from seconds to minutes.  All of them gave what I would call poor accuracy.  Many errors in the “translation” from graphic to text. Keep was extremely slow in comparison.

OneNote was good on the time and accuracy; however, it is not available in the online version.  It only works on the paid or free desktop versions of OneNote.  Still I liked the results.

Online OCR did as good  a job as OneNote.  It was quick and just as accurate (remember none are perfect).  However, I would not upload sensitive information to be converted by an unknown online service.

Pledge of Allegiance

Pledge of Allegiance converted by Online OCR

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of
Ameri  and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.

There are more options but these three were the ones I decided to test from all I had heard and experienced.  Have you tried any?

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