One problem with OCR tools is that not all of them are as efficient as we expected them to be. The last thing you want is to pay for a service that does not do a good job of converting images to text.
Manual data entry is also out of the question as it is too expensive. Instead, I have used several optical character recognition tools myself. To help you choose, I will share with you the best OCR software programs I have used.
I selected these best OCR software programs based on price, what they can do, their efficiency, and how accurate they are.
Here is a quick list of the best OCR software tools:
1. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.
2. OmniPage Ultimate
3. IBM Datacap
5. AWS Textract
Best OCR software for people who deal with PDF files most of the time.
Pricing: Costs $19.72 per month, which is charged on an annual basis.
Unique Feature: Works seamlessly in the PDF universe.
Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is the optical character recognition you need to process PDF documents. You can edit, create, convert, and sign PDFs with it.
Here are the things you can do with it:
- Combine many file types into a single document
- Create PDF from scanned documents or scanned images
- Convert website pages into an interactive PDF
- Add or remove PDF elements from a document
The Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is what you need if you work with many files you want to combine or turn into PDFs. You can also use this system if your process requires collaboration or sharing.
- Edit PDFs – you can get a PDF from somebody and edit it from this software. For example, you can change the lines, fonts, entry boxes, etc.
- Combine Files – it is possible to combine several file types into one. For example, if you have one file in MS Word and the other in PDF, you can combine both and get a single PDF file.
- Sharing and Collaboration – you can share your PDF with other people. You can send the PDF as an email attachment or a link. The PDF must be in the Adobe Document Cloud if you send it as a link.
- Compare Changes – if you have two versions of the same PDF files, the system can compare the two, and you can highlight the changes.
- Add Audio, Video, and 3D Objects – you can add multimedia assets to the PDF document after scanning them and converting them into PDFs. You can add the media to the document or add them as a link.
- Search Scanned Documents – after scanning an image, it is now an editable document. You can also find specific words if you want and tweak the text as you deem necessary.
Pros of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC
- Works with Windows and Mac
- It does not need high-end hardware
- The interface is easy to understand
- It has a wide range of features
It is free for the first seven days. After that, this tool costs $19.72 per month, but you must pay for the service annually. What this means is that you will pay in advance for the entire year of subscription.
Best for big businesses that have many paper documents `that they need to convert into digital files.
Pricing: One-time payment of $499.
Unique Feature: It can handle bulk automation OCR work.
OmniPage Ultimate and Kofax OmniPage Ultimate are the same product. The maker is Kofax, and you can buy the software in physical form.
Here are the things you can do with it:
- Scan documents and turn them into pdf files, including Microsoft Office formats
- Maintain file formatting on all work done
- Capture data from mobile devices or the camera from phones
- Make it work with any scanner
- Batch process documents
While this product is not an AI-based OCR software program, it does a wonderful job digitally converting paper docs and scanned images into editable documents.
- Proofreading – the program has a proofreading feature to help you easily identify what areas of the document need editing. You can even combine the scanned image and the editable version into a semi-transparent layer to compare them in a single window.
- Text-to Speech – the software program uses the Dragon Naturally Speaking AI to convert text into speech. It can read scanned documents aloud.
- File Type Support – after scanning and editing with this best OCR software, you can convert the files into PDF, MS Word, HTML, Excel, and even ePub.
- Forms Processing – you can easily convert scanned papers into fillable PDF file forms. There is no need to create a form from scratch manually, and it works great if paid with the best inventory management systems.
- Search Function – the tool has a PDF search function, which allows you to search for specific items in long PDF files.
- Same Format – you can scan and keep the original format of the paper version in the digital version to
Overall, this program is one of the best for bulk or business OCR needs. What sets it apart is that the makers combined the OCR with text-to-speech software. So if you prefer hearing to reading, this tool is right for you.
- It is a powerful OCR software program
- It can d automation for a high volume of converting scanned documents
- The interface is easy to use
- There is a direct way to upload pdf files or pdf documents to Dropbox and other cloud services
- It comes with a text-to-speech module
This product is not a free OCR software program. It costs $499, and the payment is one-time only.
3. IBM Datacap
Best for huge businesses that deal with thousands of documents.
Pricing: You must contact the sales team to get a price.
Unique Feature: It has a machine learning and AI-infused processing system.
IBM Datacap is an excellent tool to extract text from scanned images. It is enterprise-grade, so it is the best option for really large businesses.
The program is part of another group of products under the IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation. It helps you streamline your image capture. It can also recognize and classify business documents.
Here are the things that you can do with it:
- Extract text from scanned images
- Convert images to PDF files
- Turn documents into searchable PDF files
- Do mass document capture and conversion
It is not free software, and the price is not available. The beauty of it is that it has mobile capture. You can capture and submit documents with a smartphone or a tablet.
- Advanced Document Capture – the program supports many channels. For example, it supports faxes and emails, not just scanned materials. It can also read many file types, such as a PDF file.
- Intelligent Processing – the machine can automate your process. It can also learn to understand unknown formats.
- Export to Other Targets – this feature allows you to export your documents to other storage devices. For example, you can upload documents to the cloud. You can even send the documents to other vendors and apps, not just on your computer.
- Rules-Based Capture – you can create a customized configuration so the system will only capture based on these rules.
- Role-Based Redaction – you can program the system to redact documents based on the role o the person who requested it. This feature makes your documents secure.
This program is unique because it does not only extract text or convert scanned images. It can examine a document it has never seen before and then classifies it.
Lastly, it can read and analyze document content and then draw conclusions. From here, it can take action and move that information where it belongs.
Pros of IBM Datacap
- Uses intelligent capture AI
- You can use it with robotics
- You can protect your data with role-based content management processes
- There are several editions you can choose from
You must contact the sales team for a price quote for your business needs.
Best for companies that need a myriad of document management tools.
Pricing: Free to try; has paid plans for corporate use.
Unique Feature: The company sells hardware that works best with the software.
ReadIris is not just a simple OCR tool but a family of many programs. The company specializes in documentation, file conversion, scanning, and machine learning.
The company also sells hardware that can help you in document management. For example, they sell book scanners, mouse and cordless scanners, and even digital smart pens.
Here are the things it can do:
- Manage PDF files
- Extract data from multiple types of sources
- Convert images into editable PDF files
- Mobile document capture
- Data capture and classification
With ReadIris, a company can have a full suite of tools. Even academic institutions can use it because it has tools for people with dyslexia.
- File Conversion – you can convert any file into a PDF; you can scan images or download scanned images from the internet, and then the system will convert it into text.
- Collaboration – after you extract data, leave notes in the editable documents and pass them on to someone who needs to get another job done
- File Protection – you can protect your PDF file and sign it; no one can access it but you and the people you authorized.
- File Format – the system works in many files, such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
- Text-to-Speech – you can upload your documents, including eBooks, and the software will read them. You can even convert these files into MP3 audio files, which you can play on tablets and other devices. Text-to-speech is commonly used by YouTubers and those who want to make money on TikTok.
- Modification – you can add a watermark on the final versions of your files. You also have the option to remove characters, change their styles, or visualize annotations in just one view.
ReadIris is one of the best OCR tools if you work with many PDF documents. It works with both Microsoft and Mac operating systems.
- They have hardware that makes the programs easier to use
- The system allows you to annotate and put notes on PDF files
- You can turn images into editable documents
- The system allows batch processing when you extract data
You can try ReadIris for free for a limited time. For the price, you must contact the sales team.
5. AWS Textract
Best for companies that also need data relationships and structure.
Pricing: Free trial and free for 12 months if you sign up with AWS plans.
Unique Feature: It can extract tables, and it can also do handwriting text extraction.
AWS Textract is a product of Amazon and comes with the other AWS services you can get. It can extract data and convert the extracted information into digital files.
Here are the things that it can do:
- Data extraction and conversion
- Table and form extraction
- Document identification
- Improve security and compliance for document management
The system is so advanced that it can extract data from invoices and receipts. It can also identify whether a document is a driver’s license or a passport.
- Advanced OCR – the machine can recognize printed text and handwritten ones. It can also scan and read characters and numbers.
- Form Extraction – this is a feature that detects value pairs such as first and last names. Once the system identifies that, it can transfer that information into a form, making manual data entry obsolete. With it, you can move data to your database.
- Table Extraction – the system can preserve the composition of the scanned images. It is an excellent tool for people who are extracting tables from a textbook into a digital version.
- Handwriting Recognition – this is probably one of the best features of AWS Textract. It can recognize a person’s handwriting and then move it to a digital format. It can do this on free-form or embedded tables on a form.
- Security – the system comes with options by which you can encrypt your data. With it, you will increase your compliance with standards such as GDPR and HIPAA.
One fantastic thing it can do is that it can also search invoices and receipts for key information. For example, it can read a receipt and identify who received the payment or who the invoice came from. From here, it can transfer the information to your database.
- It has a query-based extraction
- It can read a handwriting
- It can identify documents and lump them into groups
- The program can extract tables and also forms
The program is free for the first 12 months if you are an AWS subscriber. There is a free trial that you can test today.
Best free OCR tool for casual use.
Pricing: Free to use with optional paid plans.
Unique Feature: It has a feature where you can program the system to capture only the type of data you want.
Nanonets is a free tool that you can use to extract data from documents. In addition, it has specialized tools for common documents like passports, driver’s licenses, invoices, and identification cards.
The system can extract information and also organize them. You can program it to take data that you need, not all the data from the document.
Here are the things it can do:
- Capture data from paper or scanned document
- Make the machine learn from every kind of document it reads
- Seamless uploads of a document in various cloud platforms
- Export Support – you can export the extracted data to platforms like Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft, and others.
- Invoice OCR – this feature allows you to get real-time data from invoices that do not have any structure. It can do the same with receipts and SKU-level products or items.
- Automated Data Entry – you can snap a picture of a document, and the system will take care of the rest.
- Invoice Reconciliation – use this feature to fetch purchase orders. It can help you make reconciliation with your accounting and inventory processes.
- Automated Learning – as you process more documents, the machine learns. As a result, the machine commits fewer mistakes, therefore improving its accuracy.
- Sync with ERP – you can integrate the system with the best enterprise resource management tools. If you do this, your employees will have the access to these documents, and you can tie these documents with your existing company systems.
I will say that this software is an excellent choice if you pair it with the best Amazon accounting software programs. It makes your task of managing invoices easier than doing it the manual way.
- You can sync it with your ERP
- There is a machine learning program that evolves
- The data entry can be automated
- There is support for processing scanned invoices into digital text
- Free – free for life; your limit is 100 pages, and there are limited fields you can extract.
- Pro – costs $0.1 per page; it can auto-capture tables, and the limit is 20 fields per page that you scan.
- Enterprise – you must contact the sales team to get the price; this plan includes everything in Pro plus white-label UI and custom data retention.
Try Nanonets for free now and then upgrade later as your business needs change.
Best for people who want simple software programs.
Pricing: Price ranges from $39 to $199.
Unique Feature: They separated the functions into different software programs.
SimpleOCR has this name because they made a product that is easy to choose and use. In addition, they separated these products, so you will only buy what you need.
For example, if you only want a PDF reader or data extractor, that is the only program you need to buy, not the entire software system.
Here are the things it can do:
- Process documents at high speeds
- Capture specific types of data from a document
- Manage OCR servers
- Integrate with other systems
- Recognize handwriting or handprint
I like that this program offers free downloads for many of the OCR products they sell. Of course, these downloads have limitations. However, you can test them and buy them if you are happy with the results.
- OCR Guide – a guide that shows you how to get the best out of the OCR system you bought.
- OCR Download – you can download the software in its free version so you can test it. There are also trial versions for other products such as SimpleView and SimpleIndex.
- Document Scanners – are hardware products that scan documents better than typical 3-in-1 printers.
The company also has various products related to OCR systems such as, but not limited to:
- Data capture
- Systems integration
- Document processing and management
- Forms processing
- Automated handprint recognition.
- Easy to use
- Separate programs for different purposes
- They offer a guide on how to use the OCR
SimpleOCR has no single pricing. The price depends on the type of specific OCR software you want.
Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, is a program that IBM developed. Its function is to extract text from scanned documents. These documents are image files that came from physical records.
The purpose of OCR is to convert images into text, thereby reducing the need for manual data entry work. These computer software programs help eliminate the expense of digitizing paper documents manually. They also make it possible to edit these documents.
People need OCR if they must convert old files or business documents into digitized versions. Most of the time, the companies that need these tools are big ones, like hospitals and insurance companies.
Many companies that operated before the computer age have a lot of paper documents. They need to convert them onto digital ones to help save space and preserve the old records in digital format.
To help you select the best OCR software program, below is a simple guide to what features you should look for.
Choose an OCR tool that has a high degree of accuracy. For example, if the letter on the document is a small “b,” then the tool must show the same.
Poor accuracy entails cost. It means that whoever is validating the scanned images will also have to do a lot of re-work.
There are many languages in the world, not only English. Therefore, the best OCR software program is one that can read multiple languages. This feature may not be necessary to you, but it will come in handy if you become a global company.
Pick an OCR tool that allows you to navigate the control panel easily. User interface refers to the arrangement of the buttons and links.
The user interface must be easy to interpret, and the user must be able to find what he is looking for without having such a hard time. In short, the user interface must be intuitive.
Even if you convert scanned documents, you may want to print them or save them into files that others in your company can use.
The best optical character recognition software program can save and print these scanned documents into many types.
Here are some examples:
- PDF files
- ePub or eBook format
The benefit of this is that after you extract text, you have the opportunity to select the program you want to edit the document.
In some cases, some OCR data extraction programs only allow you to convert into PDF. As we all know, Adobe Acrobat is free, but it can only read and print the document. If you want to edit on PDF, you must buy the complete suite of Adobe Acrobat.
Some OCR programs need high-end computer processors. In this case, you must spend a lot of money on the hardware just to be able to extract data. I recommend getting an OCR tool that works even with the most basic computer setup.
Efficiency refers to how fast the OCR converts the file. Run away if it takes an hour to do the job for one page. What you want is something that only takes a few minutes.
Think of the OCR tool as a printer. You do not have to be around with a printer to print each page. You just need to press CTRL+P, choose the pages you want to print, and leave the PC and printer to do their job.
The best OCR software should work similarly. It should be able to do data extraction of all the scanned images without you being around all the time.
It would also be great if you could find an affordable OCR data extraction tool that can do compression for your completed PDF documents or scanned images. This way, these documents will not consume much of your storage space.
1. Which PDF reader has the best OCR?
The best PDF reader and OCR is the Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. It has a complete suite of what you need for both PDF readers and OCR software programs.
2. Can OCR apps detect handwriting?
Yes, there are optical character recognition apps that can detect handwriting. The engine can extract text from the image of the handwriting, provided that the handwriting is legible. However, if the handwriting is similar to a doctor’s, then even the best OCR may be unable to convert scanned documents.
3. Do OCR tools integrate with storage tools?
Yes, OCR tools can integrate with storage devices, such as the cloud. There are OCR software providers that offer online storage services. What happens here is that once the optical character recognition software completes the conversion, it automatically saves on the cloud. You or your employees can access the docs in TXT or WORD formats.
4. Can you use an OCR tool online?
Yes, there are OCR tools online that you can use. Some of these tools allow you to convert PDFs or scanned documents into text. You can download the file from here and then make the edits on your PC. The thing with free OCR software online is that it does not have the same power as the paid ones.
5. What is an OCR engine?
The OCR engine is the machine that makes it possible to convert physical documents and convert images into text. The OCR engine does the actual work or heavy lifting, which works at the backend of the software. Think of it as a computer processor—it processes data and shows you the information on the screen.
6. Does Microsoft Word have OCR?
It used to. Windows 2003 had what the company called MODI. It stands for Microsoft Office Document Imaging. While the name sounds different, it was still free OCR software. The company removed it from the succeeding versions of the Microsoft Office suite. There is no word if the company plans to bring it back.
7. What is the difference between an OCR and a scanner?
An OCR reads scanned images and converts the content into text. As such, the person in charge does not have to type each letter on a computer. On the other hand, a scanner copies that exact image placed on the scanning device. Therefore, you cannot edit the text from scanned images.
The best OCR software for 2023 is Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. It works best if you want to manage your documents, make them editable, and if you want to save them in the cloud.
The second recommendation, if you want a free one, is Nanonets. It is also affordable, as you will only pay per document.
To finish off, here is my list of the best OCR software (Free & Paid):
1. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC – Best OCR software for people who deal with PDF files most of the time
2. OmniPage Ultimate – Best for big businesses that have many paper documents `that they need to convert into digital files
3. IBM Datacap – Best for huge businesses that deal with thousands of documents.
4. ReadIris – Best for companies that need a myriad of document management tools
5. AWS Textract – Best for companies that also need data relationships and structure
6. Nanonets – Best free OCR tool for casual use
7. SimpleOCR – Best for people who want simple software programs.