Do you need to digitize handwritten notes for editing or indexing?Or do you want to copy text from a picture of a handwritten quote?All you need is a tool called Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
OCR tools analyze handwritten or typed text in pictures and convert it into editable text.Some tools even have spell checkers for extra help in case they don't recognize them.We've tested six of the best OCR tools for converting handwritten text to text.Take a look:
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.
Download: Microsoft OneNote for Android | iOS | desktop (free)
2. Google Drive and Google Docs
Availability: Web, Android and iOS
Google has some tools for converting handwriting to 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 PDFs it saves are not editable in Drive itself, but they are searchable.This is the ideal solution if you have handwritten notes that just need to be indexed.
But when you really also need to convert handwritten notes into editable text, you need to combine Drive with Google Docs.
First, as before, scan your notes to create a PDF document.Then jump to your desktop and openGoogle Drive.Find the scanned file, right-click, and select "Open with Google Docs".This will open the PDF in Docs as a text file that you can edit, or copy and paste the text into another file.It also automatically saves the editable version to Drive.
There is a third option. The Google Lens app (which is part of Google Photos on iOS) 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, wait a few seconds, and it will be decrypted.Then click Finish Search.
3. 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 fast tool, especially since you can set it up to decipher whole files, parts of files, or batches of multiple files.However, the accuracy ratings above are clearly for printed text in pictures, and less accurate for handwritten media.When comparing SimpleOCR with tools from Microsoft or Google, you may find that the latter works better.
Download: SimpleOCR (free)
4. 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, when testing converting handwriting to PNG photos in TXT format, online OCR spits out random gibberish that doesn't match the handwriting at all, so use this tool with caution.Because it's cheap and easy to use, it doesn't hurt to see if you can get better results.One possible benefit of online OCR is that it can recognize multiple languages.
try: Online OCR (free)
Availability: Windows only
TopOCRis one of the best handwriting recognition software.
Using source images captured by a scanner or digital camera, TopOCR provides a two-pane format that displays 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, the program is most likely inaccurate.
TopOCR is very efficient, supports 11 languages, and has a PDF output function.As a shareware, the free version is functional enough to allow you to easily verify that it meets your needs and decide whether to purchase the full, unrestricted program. One limitation of TopOCR is that it only works on Windows computers.
Download: TopOCR (Free trial or full program $4.99)
Availability: Windows only
FreeOCRIs made for the Windows platform and can handle images and PDFs.It hasn't been updated in years, so while the conversion time is very fast, the accuracy is poor.
The original technology running FreeOCR was never designed to convert scanned handwriting to text.However, some users said that the accuracy rate got better after they used the program repeatedly for that purpose and carefully followed the instructions in the user guide and forums.If you don't get better results with the other options here, it's worth a shot.
Download: FreeOCR (free)
Get text from handwritten notes
When you need to scan your handwriting into text, it's hard to go beyond what Google has to offer.It's not flawless and depends a lot on how clear your writing is, but it produces some great results.
A surefire way to get better results is to make sure your articles are easy to read.So, consider reviewing your handwriting -- if you're more used to typing, you've probably become rusty with handwriting.
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