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What Is OCR Software? What Are The Best OCR Softwares?

Posted by Anne Q. on May 06, 2023.

When dealing with scanned business documents or translations, it is way too time-consuming if you have to retype all the content in order to work on them. That’s when OCR software comes into play and saves you a great deal of time and effort.

So what exactly is OCR software? What about the advantages and disadvantages? We will explain carefully the concept of OCR software in this post and give you the name of 5 quality OCR software, both free and paid tools.

What is OCR Software?

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is the process of recognizing printed, handwritten, or typed text characters of physical documents, then electronically and mechanically converting them into machine-readable text data.

Simply speaking, OCR software helps you turn non-editable files such as .jpg, .png, or closed PDF which you cannot highlight, copy, or edit texts into editable files such as MS Word and LibreOffice, making it easier for you to manage all paperwork.

What is OCR Software

The use of OCR software is manifold. Below are some notable examples of its applications:

      • Scanning printed business documents such as scan invoices, certificates, patents, etc. into word processors for editing;
      • Preparing non-editable files for translation using CAT Tools;
      • Archiving information from newspapers, magazines, etc. into searchable formats.

The Benefits of OCR Software

The main benefit of OCR software is its ability to save a great amount of time for users. Instead of spending hours retyping the whole non-editable file, you can simply use OCR software to scan it and receive the editable, digital version within minutes.

It is even more helpful for translators when handling your translation projects. They are not required to rewrite the entire document, which will increase the turn-around time and also cost you more money.

Another reason why OCR software is time-saving is that it helps you search for specific information quickly and easily. If you need to find a piece of information in a hundred-page document, you just simply use the search tool with a keyword and the results will be displayed right away. This can hardly be done with scanned files.

In general, compared to the effort of retyping documents by human beings, OCR software is able to produce good quality editable documents with minimal effort and fewer mistakes.

The Limitations of OCR Software

Despite its convenience, OCR software has some disadvantages that limit its applications.

      • OCR software performs poorly with handwritten documents or typed documents with fonts that resemble handwriting.
      • Your files must be in good condition or quality with good light, contrast, and no dirt or smudges. Otherwise, errors might be created in the output files or some words will be missing.
      • OCR software might find it challenging to differentiate some characters such as the number 0 and the capitalized O letter.
      • OCR software is not 100% reliable. It will need another person to manually check and review the converted files before you can use them.
      • Not every OCR software support non-Latin and C.C.J.K (Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) languages.

2 Steps to Prepare Your Scanned Document for Translation

The steps of turning an image into an editable file by using OCR software are quite straightforward. Simply follow the 2 steps mentioned below to have the best-converted files.

Step 1: Instruct the OCR Software to convert it to text

Most OCR software is easy-to-use. All you have to do is to choose the language of the source file, your expected output format, and click the convert button. Now, it will take you only seconds or up to a few minutes to receive the editable files.

Step 2: Proofread the scanned document

Even the best OCR software can have errors. Therefore, you cannot use the scanned file right away without reviewing it carefully first. If you are a translator yourself, then this step is no challenging task. However, if you are not and cannot understand the language of the file, you can seek help from a professional proofreader to review and correct any detected errors.

Once the document is proofread thoroughly, you can edit or make adaptations in MS Word, LibreOffice, etc. or translate it using CAT Tools.

5 Best Paid and Free ORC Software 

1. Abbyy FineReader

Abbyy FineReader

Abby FineReader is a comprehensive solution for you to create, edit, and organize files. One of its outstanding features is digitalizing and editing paper documents and scans with OCR. Featuring ABBYY’s latest AI-based OCR technology, FineReader PDF allows you to easily convert non-editable files into PDF, Microsoft Office or other formats.

The software supports 201 OCR languages, including many non-Latin and CCJK languages. You can see the full list of alphabets and languages Abbyy FineReader support here.

The price of the software starts at $199 for the Standard version which allows you to do OCR conversions and edit PDFs. The Corporate version at $290 adds the document comparison and automated conversion features. If you only need the OCR conversion feature, the Standard version will be enough to meet your demands.

2. OmniPage Ultimate

OmniPage Ultimate 19.2 - OCR Software

Trusted by some of the biggest names in the business like Ford, GE, and Amazon, OmniPage Ultimate gives you comprehensive features like the software mentioned above, with the advantage of excellent speed.

The software lets you convert paper documents from almost any scanner source into all types of digital files you want. Besides, the tool can recognize and process over 120 languages.

The price of this tool is much higher than other tools in the market. You will have to pay $241.07 to get OmniPage Ultimate.

3. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Adobe Acrobat Pro

With Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, you can easily optimize and convert a scanned document, or JPEG, PNG, or TIFF image into a PDF file. The software allows you to edit, search, and add comments to the converted file.

However, the price of this software is a little higher than its rivals. The Standard version is available for $17.09/month while the Pro version is $19.72/month.

4. LightPDF


LightPDF is an online PDF Editor and Converter tool with a great OCR feature. The OCR function of LightPDF can convert PDF and JPG, PNG images into TXT format if you use a free account. If you upgrade to a VIP account, starting from $1.67/month, you can export files into numerous editable formats such as Word, Excel, PPT, PDF, and RTF files without quality loss.

One great thing about Light PDF is that you can enjoy converting and editing your files for free without seeing any ads on the website. The website is well-designed, clean, and clear, helping you avoid getting distracted by unnecessary information.

5. i2OCR


For an online free version tool, i2OCR is a great tool with the capability of recognizing text from numerous file formats, including .jpg, .png, .bmp, .tif, .ppm, and .pgm. The output files can be saved in .pdf, .txt, .doc, and .docx format.

Besides over 100 languages support, you will also love using i2OCR due to its simple and user-friendly interface. All you have to do is choose the language of the file, upload the file (or URL), and wait for the result.

If you have any issues using OCR Software, do not hesitate to contact us. With an experienced technical team, we are able and willing to help you with your OCR software inquiry.


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