What Is OCR (Optical Character Recognition)? Working, and Software

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Written By Aditya Sharma

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OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is a technology that converts scanned images or PDFs into editable text.

It works by analyzing characters and recognizing patterns to accurately transcribe the information. There are various OCR software options available.

Optical character recognition (OCR), is a collection of technologies and techniques that automatically recognize and extract text from unstructured documents such as images, screenshots, and physical paper documents. It uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to achieve high accuracy.

This article will explain OCR terminology and its workings. This article also includes a list of the best OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software available.

What is OCR (Optical Character Recognition)?

Optical character recognition (OCR), a collection of technologies and techniques that automatically recognize and extract text from unstructured documents such as images, screenshots, and physical paper documents with a high level of accuracy powered by artificial intelligence and computer vision, is a form of optical character recognition.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition), at its core, is a digital reproduction framework. It uses automation to convert scans into editable and shareable PDF documents.

While the world is now largely digital, it is still not complete. No matter what industry you work in, paper records are still common.

Although scanning physical documents may take time, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology can speed up the process and provide more relevant files.

Optic character recognition has the primary benefit of facilitating data input through text search, editing, and storage.

This allows individuals and organizations to save files on their computers, tablets, or in cloud storage. All materials will be accessible everywhere. You can:

  • Minimize document management costs
  • All stakeholders should be able to accelerate processes
  • Automate the validation and processing of material in marketing and human resources domains.
  • Data protection and consolidation in one central location.
  • Protect against paper damage (fire, theft, etc.).
  • Employees have access to the latest information, which can increase efficiency.

OCR has many applications. These applications not only help improve workflows but also enhance the quality of life.

OCR software can decode scanned documents, then read them aloud to people with visual impairments.

OCR can also be used to aid people with learning disabilities such as dyslexia. It is widely used in education settings worldwide.

For example, teachers working with students with developmental disabilities may use OCR to ensure that they communicate clearly and effectively in virtual classrooms.

OCR solutions make it possible to eliminate linguistic barriers. Users can create customized settings to allow them to convert words from image files into another language.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition): The Evolution

OCR can be traced back to telegraphy. Emanuel Goldberg, a scientist, developed a system to translate characters into telegraph codes during the First World War. In the 1920s, Emanuel Goldberg developed the first electronic document retrieval system. IBM was granted the patent for the "Statistical Machine" in the United States.

Ray Kurzweil founded Kurzweil Computer Products, Inc. in 1974. Kurzweil Computer Products, Inc. was founded by Ray Kurzweil in 1974.

His Omni-font optical character Recognition (OCR) system could recognize text written in almost any typeface. This technique could be used to aid the visually impaired. Therefore, he constructed a text-to-speech-capable reading machine.

Kurzwell's company was acquired by Xerox in 1980. The intention was to market paper-to-computer translation.

OCR technology was popularized in the 1990s when historic newspapers were digitalized. Numerous technological advances have been made since then. Modern OCR (Optical Character Recognition) systems can offer near-perfect accuracy. This is due to the growth of artificial Intelligence (AI), which can simultaneously process larger volumes of complex and multivariate information. OCR today is based on machine learning (ML) as well as computer vision. These are both subsets of AI.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition): How Does It Work?

OCR systems can be composed of hardware and software. This system reads the content of physical papers and converts them into machine-readable codes for data processing workflows.

Many business owners used OCR to convert physical paper and records into digital files in the 1990s. Also known as text recognition, OCR technology has improved in accuracy and reliability over the years, with a growing need for greater usability. AI has made optical character recognition more accurate and faster thanks to recent advances.

Let's examine the five stages one by one that makes up modern OCR technology operations.

Step 1: Converting an Original Physical Document Into a Digital File

The device machinery, often an optical scanner, converts the physical form of the document into an image. This stage is designed to ensure the machine's accuracy while removing any unwanted distortions.

The generated picture is then converted to black-and-white and then evaluated for bright parts (background) or dark (foreground). Characters. The OCR (Optical Character Recognition) system can also classify the image into separate components such as tables, text, and inset images, if necessary.

Step 2: Recognize The Patterns Within The Document

The AI then examines the image's dark areas to identify numbers and characters. AI uses pattern recognition to target a single letter or phrase or text block. The AI system is trained by teams using a variety of languages, content formats, handwriting, and other techniques. The program compares the characters in the digitalized envelope snapshot to determine matches. It also uses the words and symbols it already knows.

Step 3: Recognizing The Character Features of The Patterns

The system uses specific criteria to identify new characters. This could include the number of lines and curves that are angled, crossed, or horizontal. An example of this is an "L", which has one horizontal and one vertical line below it. These feature IDs will be used by the OCR program to identify every "L" on paper. Once the system has identified the characters, the ASCII codes are converted into a code that can be used for further processing.

Step 4: Check For Hygiene

The fourth phase is where AI corrects any errors in the output files. A way to direct the AI is to use a glossary of terms that will be used in the text. This could include the English language. This limits the output of the program to specific words or formats. It ensures that there is no other interpretation.

Step 5: Use OCR in Your Industry

These four steps will be followed by any OCR software to convert paper records to digital files that can then be saved, indexed, updated, and stored. The final step is to use the technology for commercial or business purposes.

Word processing is the most popular OCR application. Scanners can scan printed documents to convert them into searchable, editable, and/or searchable formats. This is a great tool for industries that have voluminous paperwork. OCR can be used to include signed documents such as loan documentation in an online database.

Retailers may also use serial numbers to identify their products. Robots can scan the barcodes of products and extract serial numbers. This information can be used to track inventory in warehouses and retail stores. OCR also converts old papers into searchable PDFs. This is especially useful in preserving old newspapers and periodicals as well as other documents, such as those related to medicine, insurance, or any other sector.

Top 10 OCR Software in 2023

McKinsey's Global Executives Survey 2022 found that 70% of global organizations are interested in business-process automation. OCR is one of the most commonly used technologies.

According to Grand View Research, the OCR market will reach $ 33 billion worldwide by 2030. There are many options available if you're looking for the best OCR program for your needs. These are the ten most popular software options, listed alphabetically:

1. ABBYY FineReader PDF

Overview: ABBYY FineReader, an excellent OCR (Optical Character Recognition) app, digitizes documents and extracts text.

The key features of ABBYY FineReaderPDF include:

πŸ’» User Interface: It is easy to navigate.

🎯 OCR Accuracy: ABBYY FineReader offers the best OCR accuracy.

πŸ“š Document Management: The app's key document management features include collaboration tools, file sharing, and file type conversion.

πŸ“ Compatible With File Types: It supports TIFF and JPEG formats, as well as.doc(x) and epub formats.

πŸ’‘ Value-Adding Capabilities: This OCR software provides additional capabilities beyond the core capabilities. It also offers batch processing, image processing, and ID scanning.

πŸ’ŽUSP: It includes an OCR proofreading tool that can help correct OCR (Optical Character Recognition) errors.

🏷 Pricing: ABBYY FineReader 16's annual license fee of $105 for Standard Windows, $73 for Mac, and $175 for Corporate costs $175.

πŸ“ Editorial Comments: ABBYY FineReader is a powerful screen-capture tool that allows you to extract text from images. It does not have full-text indexing, which is necessary for quick searches.

2. Adobe Acrobat DC

Overview: Adobe Acrobat DC OCR software allows users to extract text from scanned documents and convert them into editable PDF files.

The key features of Adobe Acrobat DC are:

πŸ’» User Interface: It is simple to use.

🎯 OCR Accuracy: Adobe Acrobat DC has an extremely high OCR (Optical Character Recognition) accuracy.

πŸ“š Document Management: The document management capabilities of Adobe Acrobat DC are PDF conversion, merging files, and watermarking.

πŸ“Compatible with File Types: It supportss.docx and.xls formats, as well as.ppt and. prn.

β™» Value-Adding Capabilities: This OCR software provides additional capabilities such as image pre-processing, indexing, and a step-by-step wizard.

πŸ’Ž USP: This solution provides a secure, feature-rich platform that is easy to use for business users. Adobe's experience design is well-known by most users.

🏷 Pricing: Adobe Acrobat DC Standard is $15.07 per Month, while Adobe Acrobat DC Pro is $23.19 Per Month.

πŸ“ Editorial Comments: Adobe Acrobat DC offers a redaction function that allows users to correct typos and replace images. It is however quite expensive.

3. AWS Textract

Overview: AWS Textract by Amazon Web Services is an advanced machine-learning tool that extracts text from scanned documents. It goes beyond simple OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to extract data from tables and forms.

The key features of AWS Textract are:

User Interface: The user interface is simple to use.

OCR Accuracy: The OCR accuracy of AWS Textract depends on the text.

Document Management: AWS Textract's document management features include intelligent document processing and data extraction.

Compatible with File Types: It supports PNG and JPEG as well as TIFF and PDF formats.

Value-Adding Abilities: This OCR software provides additional capabilities beyond the core capabilities. It also offers a text editor, batch processing, and indexing.

USP: AWS OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software can extract text, tables, and fields from scanned images. It also comes with reliable cloud hosting.

Pricing: AWS Textract offers a pay-as-you-use subscription model that is dependent on your AWS region and plan.

Editorial Comments: AWS Textract offers an in-database analytics function.

4. Docparser

Overview: Docparser uses advanced pattern recognition and zonal OCR technology to extract data from image-based documents.

The main features of Docparser are:

User interface: Docparser offers an intuitive interface.

OCR Accuracy: Docparser has an extremely high OCR accuracy.

Document Management: Docparser's document management capabilities include data extraction, aggregation, and publishing.

Compatible With File Types: Docparser supports JPG and PNG formats, as well as TIFF and DOC(x).

Value-Adding Capabilities: This OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software provides workflow management, data connectors, and data import/export.

USP: It contains many third-party integrations as well as APIs (application programming interfaces) that give users greater flexibility in accessing and storing documents.

Pricing: Docparser's monthly costs are $39 for Starter Edition, $74 for Professional Edition, $159 for Business Edition, and a custom price for the Enterprise edition.

Editorial Comments: Docparser makes it easy to create parsing guidelines. It loads pages slowly, however.

5. IBM Datacap

Overview: IBM Datacap is a comprehensive solution for document and data collection. It can scan, classify, identify, validate, verify, and export data as well as document images.

The main features of IBM Datacap are:

user Interface: The user interface of IBM Datacap is simple to use.

OCR Accuracy: The software has an extremely high OCR (Optical Character Recognition) accuracy.

Document management: The features offered by IBM Datacap include image enhancement, file conversion, and data extraction.

Compatible With File Types: It supports file formats like TIF, JPEG, and BMP.

Value-Adding Abilities: This OCR (Optical Character Recognition)software provides document indexing, audit trail, and remote capture in addition to its core capabilities.

USP: This software streamlines the capture, identification, and classification of business documents.

Pricing: IBM Datacap pricing can be arranged upon request.

Editorial Comments: IBM Datacap offers a role-based redaction function that allows users to specify what information they want to exclude.

6. Nanonets

Overview: Nanonets, an OCR software with AI that extracts relevant information from unstructured text and documents, is an advanced OCR tool.

The main features of Nanonets are:

User Interface: Nanonets offers an intuitive interface.

OCR accuracy: This has an extremely high OCR (Optical Character Recognition) accuracy.

Document Management: Nanonets' document management features include image recognition, computer vision, and intelligent processing of documents.

Compatible With File Types: It supports PDF and PNG formats.

Value-Adding Abilities: This OCR software provides additional capabilities beyond the core capabilities. It also offers batch processing, a zone selection tool, and external integrations.

USP: It has the unique ability for users to automate manual entry using AI.

Pricing: While the Nanonets starter edition is completely free, the Pro version costs $0.1/page and the Enterprise comes at a custom price.

Editorial Comments: Users have the option to customize Nanonets' machine-learning algorithms to their needs. It can only handle very low volumes.

7. OCR.Space

Overview: The OCR.space Online OCR uses OCR technology to convert scanned images into editable documents.

The key features of OCR.space include:

User Interface: Users can navigate OCR.space easily

OCR Accuracy: The software is very accurate in OCR.

Document Management: This ultimate feature includes support for scanner integration, multiple languages, and barcode recognition.

Compatible With File Types: The OCR (Optical Character Recognition)space software supports JPG and PNG formats, as well as PDF and GIF.

Value-Adding Abilities: This OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software provides batch processing, PDF conversion, and ID scanning in addition to its core capabilities.

USP: It is one of the few OCR programs that you can use without registration.

Pricing: OCR.space costs nothing. Monthly fees for Pro plans are $30 and Pro PDF plans are $60. Enterprise plans cost $299+.

Editorial Comments: OCR (Optical Character Recognition)space gives users the freedom to use its four OCR engines for digitizing scanned documents. It has a 5MB limit on input files.

8. OmniPage Ultimate

Overview: Omnipage Ultimate, is a powerful OCR application that converts PDF files and forms into editable documents that can then be archived and shared securely.

The main features of OmniPage Ultimate are:

User Interface: The OmniPage Ultimate user interface is simple.

OCR Accuracy: OmniPage offers high levels of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) accuracy.

Document Management: OmniPage's document management features include language recognition, OmniPage launchpad, and PDF search.

Compatible With File Types: OmniPage supports formats like PDF, JPEG, and PNG.

Value-Adding Abilities: This OCR software provides additional capabilities beyond the core capabilities. It also offers batch processing, image prep, and ID scanning.

USP: Its fine-tuned automation of high-volume OCR (Optical Character Recognition) tasks can dramatically improve productivity.

Pricing: OmniPage Ultimate 19.2 costs $499 and OmniPage Standard 18.0 is $149.

Editorial Comments: OmniPage Ultimate offers a great text-to-speech feature. It is however expensive.

9. Readiris

Overview: Readiris is a PDF/OCR software that converts scans into editable, searchable PDFs.

The main features of Readiris are:

User interface: It is very easy to use.

OCR Accuracy: The document's quality determines its OCR accuracy.

Document Management: Readiris' document management features include electronic signatures, comments, and PDF annotations.
Compatible With File Types: Readiris supports JPEGs, PNGs, TIFFs, and PDF formats.

Value-Adding Capabilities: This OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software provides offline access, encryption, and multi-language support in addition to the core capabilities.

USP: It includes a built-in voice recognition feature to convert document files into audio files.

Pricing: Readiris PDF 17 can be used for free. Readiris Pro 17 is $99 and Readiris Corporate 17 is $199.

Editorial Comments: Readiris' compressor function converts files to lighter documents without altering the text resolution or legibility. It does not recognize handwritten documents well.

10. SimpleOCR

Overview: SimpleOCR is an OCR software freeware that converts scanned documents into editable digital files.

The main features of SimpleOCR (Optical Character Recognition)are:

User Interface: Simple OCR (Optical Character Recognition) offers a user-friendly interface.

OCR Accuracy: This software has very high OCR precision.

Document Management: The document management capabilities of SimpleOCR include searchable pdf, table recognition, and vertical text recognition.

Compatible With File Types: SimpleOCR (Optical Character Recognition) supports TIFF and JPEG as well as PNG, GIF, GIF, BMP, and PDF formats.

Value-Adding Abilities: This OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software provides barcode recognition, image processing, and PDF conversion.

USP: This free OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software development tool (SDK), allows software developers the freedom to use OCR in their applications without additional cost.

Pricing: EasyOCR (Optical Character Recognition) is completely free. Paying for the paid editions starts at $25 and goes up to $2,500.

Editorial Comments: Simple OCR (Optical Character Recognition) preserves the file format and layout even after conversion. SimpleOCR does not have a copy/paste feature and can only export the entire PDF.


OCR (optical character recognition) is a critical pillar of digital transformation. It helps you convert various paper documents (historical, personal, and archival records) to digital. Images (invoice screenshots and photographs of checks) in a structured format. Because you don't need to remove legacy documents or other non-digital communications, this allows for more extensive databases for enterprises.

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