Five Free OCR Products to Try in 2021

 Five Free OCR Products to Try in 2021

OCR software is not limited to a specific industry. Finding the best free OCR software requires assessing the amount and complexity of documents that need to be processed. Although the products mentioned in this piece share the same functionality, they work best in different circumstances. This piece will help you determine which free OCR software will best suit your unique use case. 

OCR Software Open Source? Platforms Suitable for Beginners? Biggest Pro Biggest Con
Amazon Textract No Browser Yes  (Single-Page Extractions) Advanced OCR features Multi-Page Extraction Can Be Difficult 
Tesseract OCR Yes Windows, Linux, Mac No Training Materials Command Line Interface
SimpleOCR No Windows, Mac Yes High Accuracy Supports Two Languages
Microsoft OneNote No Windows, Mac, Android, iOS Yes User-Friendly Interface Subscription Required for Handwriting Recognition
Easy Screen OCR No Windows,  Mac, Android, iOS Yes Mobile Apps No Batch OCR Capabilities 
Benefits of OCR Software
OCR, or optical character recognition, is the process of detecting and extracting text from images. OCR software is especially useful for businesses that regularly scan documents. Users can use this software to convert PDF files into searchable documents, collect text from batches of digital images, or save extracted text in a different file format. 

OCR software reduces the need for manual data entry and the possibility of human error. This means your business will have quicker access to valuable data. Information can be stored for further analysis or integrated into your existing workflow. OCR software makes data extraction simple for a variety of industries. 

Which OCR Software Best Fits My Use Case?
Each of the software below are extremely capable OCR tools. With that said, they are best suited to different individuals and use cases. Use the information below to determine which is right for you.

Amazon Textract – Beyond Traditional OCR
Those who are familiar with Amazon Web Services should consider using their text extraction service, Amazon Textract. Textract can even detect handwriting, text, and data in scanned documents. This platform is unique because it takes OCR capabilities to the next level.

 While typical OCR software is limited to structured documents, Textract is equipped with machine learning tools that can convert unstructured data. If you need these more complex features, this software will likely be a strong candidate for you

Even though Textract can perform advanced data extraction, its simple OCR functions can fit the needs of your business. This platform can extract text from structured documents, such as forms and tables. Textract allows you to customize your confidence threshold to ensure that you are getting the most accurate results. 

Textract is very simple to use if you are uploading single-page documents. Amazon offers a full Developer Guide for those who need help getting started with Textract. Extracting text from batches of documents will require writing code and following the Developer guide closely. 

Beginners should familiarize themselves with the basics of single-page text detection before attempting to use Textract’s more advanced features. The user interface will be largely familiar to those who have used other text-extracting tools in the past. 

The main benefit of using Amazon Textract is the pay-per-use pricing model. The platform offers a free tier with up to 1,000 pages per month. If you exceed that limit, you will have to pay a small fee per extra page. 

Textract’s free tier is ideal for businesses that want to use OCR software for specific projects. Personal projects and limited scope record-keeping would also benefit from this tool. Those who plan to use OCR software regularly, or process more than 1,000 pages per month, should consider using a different free software. 

Tesseract OCR – Open Source OCR Software 
The Tesseract OR engine is open source and developed by Google. It works with Windows, Linux, and macOS. Tesseract converts documents into searchable text files. This software is not ideal for beginners because it requires more technical skills. 

Tesseract OCR engine does not have a traditional user interface. Everything is run from the command line, and programmers can write their own code to use the API. Tesseract is compatible with multiple programming languages. There are tutorials available on GitHub to help new users navigate Tesseract.

This software is not designed for handwriting recognition. Despite this, you can configure the software to convert batches of multiple documents. The average user with no coding experience can search for the proper syntax to input into the command line. Although coding is not required for Tesseract, programmers will probably feel more comfortable using it. 

Even if coding is not strictly required, the mindset and ability to do so will make users feel more at home using this tool. Those who do not have this may feel slightly overwhelmed, even when doing things correctly, due to the unfamiliarity.  

Tesseract is considered to be the best open-source OCR software. Its learning curve is steep, but you can expect accurate results. This software will be helpful for users who have experience with the command line. Those who want a simpler option, with a more user-friendly interface, should consider one of the other products mentioned in this piece. 

SimpleOCR – Reduce Extraction Errors
SimpleOCR is a popular freeware OCR that is known for plain text extraction. This software is ideal for converting scanned documents into searchable PDF files or other formats. These formats include Word, Excel, and text files. Businesses that have a limited budget and want to digitize their paper files would benefit from using SimpleOCR. The searchability is a key benefit here, and is well-suited to those with extensive records they would like organized.

This software is designed to improve the accuracy of your extracted text. SimpleOCR guarantees up to 99% accuracy in your text, greatly reducing the need for manual corrections. SimpleOCR’s dictionary includes 120,000 words, which improves its reliability. You can add more words to the dictionary with the text editor. This is ideal for those in industries with outside-the-box terminology. The text editor feature is also responsible for detecting possible errors in the document. 

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