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How to Convert Photo to Text - Free - OCR

Updated on October 23, 2014

In this tutorial you will see how to convert photo to text or scan to text. Many times you will have a folder full of scanned documents and may want to search for a particular scan with a one specific word. Is it possible to do that? Yes. Why can't you search a scanned document? Scanned documents are just images or pictures and you won't be able to search for a word within a scanned file.

You can't OCR handwritten text using the below methods.

Convert Image to Text - Which formats?

There are multiple image formats such as JPG, PNG, TIFF, etc. Both the methods are applicable to most of the image formats.

Picture to Text - How Accurate?

Well, the quality of the output text depends hugely on your image quality. If the image quality is not good, even pro softwares won't be able to turn out an accurate text. But if you have a normal quality image, the quality is good using both the below methods, but the offline method is more accurate than the online method.

Offline Method - Tracker and Image Converter

  • You have many images.
  • You have a confidential document which you don't want to upload to another website.
  • You frequently need to convert photos.
  • Accuracy of the text is important.

How to Select Between the Online vs Offline Method

Online Method - Google Drive

  • You have only 1 or 2 images.
  • You don't want to install any software.
  • You don't have Windows.
  • Accuracy of the text is not of high importance.

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Method #1 - Google Drive - Online Method

Yes, this is one of the easiest ways I always turn to when I need to convert a 1 to 2 photo.

1. Go to Google Drive.

2. Sign in with your Google ID. If you don't have one, please do get one if you want to use this method.

3. Upload your image to Drive. See the below image.

Multiple Images

If multiple images are selected, the tool will convert and merge all the images to one single pdf.

If you want to maintain the images as single documents, do the below.

a. Click Add.

b. Select first image.

c. Convert to pdf.

d. Remove the image file from the list using the Delete button.

e. Once again Add image and do the process until you have converted all your images.

4. Browse and select the image.

5. In the Upload Settings box, put a checkmark to Convert text from PDF and image files to Google Documents.

6. In the Document Language dropdown, select the language of your document.

7. Put checkmark in Confirm settings before each upload. Better to use this option to prevent unnecessary conversion of your document when you don't want to, i.e., you always don't want to convert image files text to Google Documents format.

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Cons

  • Accuracy of the text is not very reliable.
  • When you have a huge bulk of images, uploading the images may be tedious and time consuming.
  • Some people are not very comfortable with Google Privacy Policy.
  • Not everyone has a Google ID. Creating an ID just to convert 1 single page scan may seem not worth it.

Pros

  • No need to install any software on your computer.
  • Everything is online.
  • Most of us have a Google ID, so no need to create new ID.
  • Converts most of the image formats.
  • You are uploading to your Drive, so no need to worry others may see your document.
  • Works with many languages.

Upload multiple pages to a folder in Drive at one time using the above settings and then use the Drive Search to search for a particular document with a particular word.

Method #2 - Tracker Software - Offline Method

You have to download and install 2 softwares for this method to work. Both are free softwares. Let's see how to convert our pictures using this method. I have tried this method only in Windows. I am not sure about other OS. Download and install the Image converter as well as the Tracker Software mentioned in the Download links. I also prefer this method in case of confidential documents.

Convert Image to PDF - Offline

1. Open TTFA Image Converter.

2. Make sure PDF document (PDF) is selected in the Convert to dropdown.

3. In the Document size dropdown, I usually select A4.

4. Click Add. Browse and select your image or images. When selecting multiple ones, use control + left mouse select or just use drag and select using mouse.

5. Click Convert.

6. Save your PDF in a preferred location with your preferred name.

Convert Scanned PDF to Searchable Text

Now, your image has been converted to pdf, but you can't still search for a word in it. You could also use Google Drive to OCR your PDF. Let's OCR the pdf using Tracker.

1. Open the pdf.

2. Click OCR.

You can't Batch convert using this software.

3. In the OCR Pages, there are three different types of options.

Page Range:

All - OCRs all the pages in your pdf to text

Current Page - OCRs the current page.

Pages - You can select page ranges such as 3-6, 20-40 or 3, 5, 8-21, 32.

Recognition:

Primary Language: Select the language of your document.

Accuracy: Medium usually works great for me. You can also select High and Low. Beware, High does not necessarily give higher quality output.

Output:

I usually leave default selection for this, but you can play with the options and see their output.

4. Click OK.

5. Your picture would be converted to words.

6. Now you can search for a particular word in your scanned documents or just copy and paste the text wherever you want.

8. Click Start Upload.

9. Your image will be uploaded.

10. Open the converted image from Drive. On the first page, you would see your image. On the subsequent pages, you will see the text from your images.

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Cons:

  • You have to install 2 free softwares.
  • There are only few languages available.

Pros

  • Great accuracy.
  • Converts most of the image formats.
  • No need to upload anything anywhere. So, perfect solution for confidential scans.

Youtube Video Tutorial

Will you try the offline or online method?

See results

Please do let me know any issues or queries regarding the above methods in the below Comments. Once again, if you found this hub useful, do spare a few seconds of your precious time to share it using the share buttons on the right side. Thank you for visiting my hub!

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