Do you need to digitize your handwritten notes to edit or index them?Or do you want to copy text from a picture of a handwritten citation?What you need is something called Optical Character Recognition (OCR)Tool of.
OCRThe tool analyzes handwritten or typewritten text in pictures and converts it into editable text.Some tools even have spell checkers to provide extra help in case of unrecognized ones.We've tested some of the best OCR tools for converting handwriting to text.
Availability: Windows, Mac, Web, iOS, and Android.
Microsoft OneNote is a digital note-taking program that is also a pretty good handwriting OCR application.Right-click on the imported image and you'll see the option to "Copy Text from Image".Use this command to extract letters from pictures and convert them into text that you can edit.This option works in seconds.
As with all handwritten OCR applications, the results are sometimes incomplete.But in general, it works well, even for harder-to-read text.Write notes in capital letters and you will find it a very useful tool.
Microsoft OneNote is a free, cloud-based program that you can use on a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers.
2. Google Drive and Google Docs
Availability: Web, Android and iOS
Google has several tools that turn handwriting into text, and chances are you already have them.
The first is Google Drive.Open the app on your phone, tap the + icon in the bottom corner, and select Scan.The PDF files it saves are not editable in Drive itself, but they are searchable.This is the ideal solution if you have handwritten notes that you just need to index.
But when you do need to turn handwritten notes into editable text too, Drive combined with Google Docs is what you need.
First, as before, scan your notes to create a PDF document.Then hop to your desktop and open Google Drive.Find the scanned file, right-click, and select "Open with Google Docs".This will open the PDF as a text file in Docs, which you can edit, or copy and paste the text into another file.It also automatically saves an editable version to Drive.
There's a third option: Google Lens (part of the larger Google app on iOS), which lets you search for real-world objects by pointing your camera at them.It also works with text.Hover your phone camera over some printed or handwritten text and wait a few seconds for it to be decrypted.Then click Finish Search.
Availability: Android and iOS
Another big tech giant, Adobe, has a scanning app that can handle handwriting.To use it, tap the camera icon, select Documents (or you can try a whiteboard to see if it works better), then line up and snap a photo of the pages you want to scan.You can also use it with pictures you already have in your phone's camera roll if you want.
Open the image by clicking the thumbnail in the lower right corner, then select the Recognize Text button in the upper right.The app will take a few seconds to try and decipher what you've written, then select Copy Text to copy it to your clipboard.You can now open any writing app -- note-taking apps, Google Docs, text messages -- and paste it in.
In our tests, the results were very mixed.As a traditional OCR app, it works well with printed text but struggles with anything but the sharpest handwriting.It does, however, support exporting scanned PDF files to Google Drive, so you can use it in conjunction with Google's text recognition.
4. Simple OCR
Availability: Desktop only
This free tool recognizes about 12 words and allows you to add more to its dictionary. SimpleOCR has an accuracy rate of up to 99%, it can even recognize formatted text, and it can also be set to ignore formatting.To improve accuracy, if the handwriting you are converting is messy, you can use the speckle or noise file functions.
SimpleOCR is a quick tool, especially since you can set it up to decipher entire files, parts of files, or batches of multiple files.However, the aforementioned accuracy ratings are clearly for printed text in pictures and not so accurate for handwritten media.When comparing SimpleOCR to tools from Microsoft or Google, you may find that the latter works better.
Download: SimpleOCR (free)
5. Online OCR
This straightforward website allows you to upload images, choose an output format, and download the finished file in under a minute.Basic usage of this free site does not require registration.You just need to complete a verification code.
However, in a test of converting handwriting from a PNG photo to TXT format, the online OCR spit out random gibberish that didn't match the handwriting at all, so use this tool with caution.Since it's cheap and easy to use, it doesn't hurt to see if you can get better results. A possible benefit of Online OCR is that it recognizes many languages.
try: Online OCR (free)
Availability: Windows only
TopOCR is one of the best handwriting recognition software.
Using a source image captured by a scanner or digital camera, TopOCR offers a dual-pane format showing the original image on the left and the converted result on the right.It is expected to work reasonably well if your handwritten text is displayed from left to right.If it features columns, then the program is likely inaccurate.
TopOCR is very efficient, supports 11 languages, and has a PDF output function.As a shareware, the free version is powerful enough to allow you to easily verify that it meets your needs and decide whether to purchase the full, non-feature-locked program. One limitation of TopOCR is that it only works on Windows computers.
Download: Top OCR (free trial or full program for $4.99)
Availability: Windows only
FreeOCR is made for the Windows platform and can handle images and PDFs.It hasn't been updated in many years, so while the conversion time is very fast, the accuracy is poor.
The original technology to run FreeOCR was never designed to convert scanned handwriting to text.However, some users say that the accuracy rate got better after they used the program repeatedly for that purpose and carefully followed instructions in the user guide and on forums.If you don't get better results with the other options here, it's worth a try.
Download: FreeOCR (free)
Get text from handwritten notes
When you need to scan your handwriting into text, it's hard to beat what Google has to offer.It's not flawless and depends a lot on how clear your writing is, but it's capable of producing some excellent results.
One surefire way to get better results is to make sure your text is easy to read.Therefore, at your leisure, you may consider reviewing your handwriting.
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