Editing a document you only have in printed form can be a huge pain, especially if you have to retype all the text.
Thankfully, though, there are several programs that can take a scanned image – such as a leaflet, poster or letter – and convert it into an editable document, using a process called Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
Abbyy Finereader is a highly regarded OCR program and the latest version 15, available for both Windows and Macs, proved to be a speedy, efficient program, which more than lived up to the company’s reputation.
The program is very easy to use, with an excellent, user-friendly interface made up of simple, logically organised menus.
It supports 171 languages and can save documents as Excel and Word files as well as several other formats.
There is a dedicated mode for processing black-and-white images, and you can convert recognised documents into a format that can be read on a Kindle or other ebook reader.
How Efficient is This FineReader?
We tested Finereader with a number of specimens, each of which took minimal time to be processed (a 50-page PDF file took around 30 seconds).
It’s worth noting that the higher an image’s resolution, the higher the chance Finereader will have of accurately converting it to text.
A couple of low-resolution images we fed through the program came out with a few spelling mistakes scattered across the page.
Thankfully, the program highlights spelling errors or words it isn’t able to recognise accurately, which makes spotting and correcting these much easier.
The program also lets you compare both the original document and the recognised, processed version side-by-side.
Remember though that there’ll be far fewer spelling mistakes if you’re scanning high-resolution images.
Finereader is also able to match the original formatting of an image, so the recognised document should appear in Microsoft Word with tables, charts, and headers and footers in the right place.
There are free OCR tools available, but the accuracy of these is questionable at best. Abbyy Finereader 15 is expensive at almost £100, but it gets the job done well and includes a great selection of features.