Tuesday, September 13, 2011

OCR for people in a hurry

If you're like most computer users, you have never needed OCR (Optical Character Recognition) capability on your computer.  OCR is relatively easy to do, so many printer/scanner manufacturers include free OCR software bundled with their printer drives.  When you install the printer drivers, the OCR software is also installed, and it clutters up your PC's hard disk, desktop, Start menu, context-sensitive menus, memory, and CPU cycles - even though you end up never using it.

Granted, some people use OCR regularly.  These people use serious OCR software, though, not the crapware that ships with your printer.

For the user who needs OCR only occasionally or rarely, there's an online alternative - actually, there are several online alternatives.  Many of them are really good.  The one that I've used (and bookmarked) is Online OCR.  I know, it's such an imaginative name.  It makes it easy to search for, I guess. 

Using Online OCR is simple.  You upload an image of whatever you need to have read, you enter the Captcha pattern, and you click "Recognize".  It spits out the text, and you can copy and paste it into your local document.

Maximum file size is 4 MB.  Maximum throughput for "guests" is 15 images per hour.  Online OCR can read 32 different languages and output in a variety of file formats, although I just use the plaintext output.    Additional capabilities are available for those who register and for those who pay real money.  Most of the questions you may have about Online OCR are answered in their FAQ list.

Remember, I'm not a shill.  I get no compensation for recommending Online OCR to you.  I just think it's a Good Thing, one that you might find useful someday.

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