Convert Printed Text to Screen with FreeOCR

February 17, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Being without a copy of a printed document that you need to edit can be quite troubling. For example a long document will potentially take some time to type up again, whereas a shorter read might require some difficult formatting as well as the typing.

OCR technology – optical character recognition – can be used to convert printed documents into computer-based documents. Thanks to OCR technology, documents can be scanned and read, with the output usually matching as high as 99% the original.

Various OCR applications are available for Windows 7. One of the best free OCR solutions is FreeOCR, a compact and versatile tool that can be used to convert documents and PDF files into Word format.

Convert Printed Text to Screen with FreeOCR

Download and Install FreeOCR

You can find your copy of FreeOCR 3.0 at – the download is just 156 KB, but installation requires that you stay connected to the web, while the installer downloads the required packages. This can take a few moments so you should probable spend some time doing something else while you wait.

Once installation is complete you will be ready to take advantage of good quality OCR document conversion for free!

To launch the application, go to Start > Programs > Free OCR > Free OCR.

Using FreeOCR to Scan and Convert Documents

Before using FreeOCR to scan a document, pay attention to the notes that are displayed, in particular the requirement to set your scanner to 300 DPI greyscale in order to achieve the best results.

To begin capturing a printed document, insert it into your scanner, close the lid and press the Scan button in FreeOCR. If the image is displaying the incorrect orientation, change this using the Rotate buttons on the left.

FreeOCR will not automatically detect the text – in order to do this you will need to use the Enlarge/Reduce tools and the Selection tools to select the text you want. For instance you can drag a square around a passage of text and then go to Selection functions > Crop image to selected area.

The next stage is to choose the OCR button to start the OCR process. Once this has completed you will then be ready to convert the text which you can either do by choosing Save text, Copy all Text to Clipboard or Export text into Microsoft Word. Once in Word format, you can save the document and make any formatting changes you require!

Capturing Text from PDF Documents with FreeOCR

As well as using OCR technology to convert physical documents into Word documents, FreeOCR can convert text-based PDF documents to Word format.

To take advantage of this, open the utility and use the Open PDF button to browse for a suitable PDF file. Note that image-based PDF files will not deliver favourable results.

Once the file is chosen and open, select OCR; once done, the text will be displayed in the right-hand window, at which point you can Save text, Copy all Text to Clipboard or Export text into Microsoft Word!

Note that with PDF only one page may be done at a time, so use the Next Page and Prev Page buttons to cycle through.

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