10 Best OCR Software of 2021 (Free and Paid Tools)
OCR software converts images of text into scannable, machine-readable online documents.
Historically used for transferring paper documents – passports, business cards, bank statements, etc. – it's the most common method of digitizing text so that it can be edited on a computer.
The best OCR software allows you to scan and archive any image-based document to an editable PDF.
In this guide, I ranked and reviewed the best OCR software based on speed, ease of use, storage capabilities, accuracy, pricing, support, and more.
Let's get to the list.
What is the Best OCR Software?
Here are my top picks for the best OCR software to use this year.
Best overall OCR software for complete PDF solutions ($14.99 per month).
Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is an OCR software that helps you extract text and convert scanned documents into editable PDF files.
It provides a complete PDF solution for any device. This means you can create and edit smart PDFs and convert PDF files to Microsoft Office formats and JPG. You can also share PDFs, sign PDFs, and print or compress directly from Pro DC.
Adobe also recognizes your text and matches your font – and finally converts the PDF into that particular font.
Besides, the OCR tool offers multiple editing features, including text recognition, add comments, page reorder, combine files, etc. You can also perform functions like rotate, delete, or crop pages.
You can even install its Acrobat Reader mobile app to delete, reorder, insert, or rate PDF pages directly from your smartphone. Then there’s an Adobe Scan app to help you scan documents, receipts, whiteboards, and more to PDF.
Plus, you can customize files by reusing multiple PDF pages from different files. It also lets you add form fields and links in your PDF files.
Additionally, Pro DC provides helps you share files in a protected format for comments and comparison. It also lets you remove passwords from protected PDFs and collect feedback from multiple people in one file.
- Split PDFs – Its PDF splitter helps you separate multiple PDFs files into different documents by specifying file size, number of pages, or top-level bookmarks.
- Sign – Request signature on documents from others and add your own sign. You can also transform physical forms into fillable PDF forms instantly through scanning.
- ISO Standards – Convert PDFs into compliant files by using a wizard or profile. You can also validate PDFs against PDF/X, PDF/VT, PDF/A, or PDF/E criteria.
- Part of Adobe, which integrates well with their photo editing software, photo management tools, and graphic design software.
- Leverage Action Wizard to customize and create PDFs while saving keystrokes and time.
- Verify PDF’s accessibility using Accessibility Checker.
- Automatically scan texts from the paper and convert them into editable documents.
- Compress PDF files with an optimized PDF online tool without losing quality for easy storage and management.
- Convert PDF into multiple formats, including PNG, TIFF, or JPEG.
- 7-day free trial.
Adobe Acrobat Pro DC costs $14.99 per month. You can also use Acrobat Standard DC at $12.99 per month to create, edit, and sign PDFs.
Get started with a free trial of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.
Best for real-time batch processing ($499).
Omnipage Ultimate is an optical character recognition (OCR) application that can help you turn paper, PDFs, and images into digital files. Basically, it transforms forms and PDF files into editable documents that you can edit, archive, and share. However, the software only supports the Windows system, so you can’t use it on your Mac.
Besides, the OCR software enables you to send converted PDF files automatically to pre-programmed workflows. And its eDiscovery Assistant helps you convert both single and batches of PDF files into searchable files.
Additionally, Omnipage offers digital camera equivalent OCR accuracy and reproduces documents into multiple formats. It also helps you schedule a large number of files for batch processing right from emails or folders. All this happens with undocumented automation to ensure real-time processing of documents.
Integration with all types of scanners, including mobile scanners, also comes in handy to process documents.
- Mobile Document Capture – It helps you capture text from a smartphone camera to convert pictures into texts.
- Language Recognition – It supports over 120 languages to help you edit, process, and store documents practically from any part of the world.
- OmniPage Server – Use the OmniPage Server for faster processing of documents for data analysis and archival needs. You can use it to process massive loads of documents regularly.
- It offers support for an extensive range of formats, including Microsoft Office, PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Corel WordPerfect, HTML, ePub, etc.
- Scan documents to any format and route anywhere on the network.
- Leverage Amazon Kindle Recognition to send converted documents directly to the eBook reader.
- Execute recurring jobs more accurately by creating your own workflows.
- The tool maintains the formatting of original documents.
- Integrate OCR functions into apps to support operating systems virtually for computers and smartphones.
OmniPage Ultimate comes at a one-time cost of $499. Initially, you also get a 15-day free trial to get familiar with the OCR software.
Get started with a 15-day free trial of OmniPage Ultimate.
Best for correcting sentences and fixing the alignment of documents ($199).
ABBYY FineReader PDF 15 is a PDF solution that incorporates AI-based OCR technology to create and enhance all types of PDF documents. It also helps you digitize, retrieve, protect, collaborate, and share multiple types of documents in the same workflow.
It further enables you to correct paragraphs and sentences and even fix the layout of the documents.
ABBYY helps you annotate any part in the PDF file through a text box, notes, and a broad set of drawings and mark-up tools. You can also comment on markups or reply to comments. Bring more transparency to assigning comments to different collaborators.
It also lets you search comments by sort, filter, and keywords. There’s even an option to collect more than one digital signature on the document.
Other prominent features include comparing documents in different formats, automating digitization and conversion routines, creating fillable PDF forms, etc.
Additionally, it got new updates recently that include:
- It can convert Gothic fonts into editable documents or searchable PDFs.
- An alignment assistant tool helps you align text or images automatically.
- The tool produces files of smaller sizes without losing the visual quality while converting PDFs.
- PDF Forms – Fill interactive fields in scanned paper and PDF forms to include text at required points. It also supports digital signatures and facsimiles for eSignature.
- Split PDF Documents – Separate large PDF files into multiple short files to meet size requirements. It also allows you to save chapters of documents as separate PDF files.
- Remove Hidden Information – Eliminate the risk of accidentally sharing confidential data in a PDF file by removing hidden data and objects. It helps you remove text layers added by OCR, attachments, comments and annotations, bookmarks, links, metadata, media, scripts, actions, and form data.
- Create different levels of password protection for PDF files.
- Verify the digital signature to ensure integrity and authenticity.
- Convert PDF files into multiple editable formats, including Microsoft Excel, Word, and more.
- Split PDF documents by page count, file size, or bookmarks.
- Leverage MRC Compression to reduce PDF file size by up to 20 times.
ABBYY FineReader PDF 15 offers three paid plans:
- Standard: $199 one-time payment
- Corporate: $299 one-time payment
- Volume Licensing: quote-based (for large organizations)
Best for converting text files into audio files ($49).
Readiris is a PDF and OCR publishing software that helps you edit and annotate, aggregate, and split, protect and sign your PDF files. It also enables you to edit, convert, and transform paper files into multiple digital formats with just a few clicks.
Plus, it offers a host of tools to attach comments, annotations, and hypertext lines to reach the attached documents directly.
You can also convert images, PDFs, and texts to edit in the required format, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, or indexed PDF. It is also comes equipped with a new recognition engine that offers faster document management.
Besides, Readiris helps you sign and protect your PDFs and send them electronically. Additional features include document batch conversion, barcode reading and encoding, splitting and merging your PDFs, and more.
- Audio Files – Readiris converts text files into .mp3 and .wav audio files. You can also listen to audio files on any device, including smartphones, tablets, or desktop.
- Verbal Annotation – It offers verbal recognition to help you embed verbal annotation into PDF files.
- Multi-Format Import – You can import files in multiple formats, including PDF, DOC, JPEG, RTF, PNG, JPEG, PPT, and more.
- The tool is compatible with all Twain scanners.
- Rotate and adjust upside down and tilted documents.
- Convert books and documents to EPUB format on an eBook reader.
- Modify text embedded in images.
- Readiris recognizes over 130 languages.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Free online tech support.
- Use IRIS iHQC technology to compress the size of PDF files by up to 50 percent.
Readiris offers three sub-products:
- Readiris PDF 17: $49
- Readiris Pro 17: $59
- Readiris Corporate 17: $89
Best for individuals looking for a free OCR tool (Freeware).
SimpleOCR is a freeware OCR and offers a royalty-free OCR SDK to developers to use in custom apps. It works on all the Windows versions and requires only a TWAIN driver to maximize compatibility with scanners.
It offers an extensive dictionary of over 120,000 words to recognize words efficiently in your documents. On top of that, you can also add new words through the text editor.
Besides, you can use SimpleOCR’s despeckle or “noisy document” to increase the accuracy of unclear copies and faxes. It also recognizes multiple formatting elements, including italic, underline, and bold, to retain the original format of documents.
Additionally, there’s an in-built spelling checker that helps you correct errors in the converted text.
- Image Retention – You can use it to capture and retain images from documents to eliminate the need to import pictures separately.
- Batch OCR – Process multiple documents or batches of files through a single command.
- Error Correction – It automatically highlights potential errors to simplify proofreading of text.
- Leverage Zone OCR to extra text from a particular part of the document.
- You can save the converted files in a DOC or TXT format.
- It supports plain text extraction.
- Compliant with TWAIN scanners.
- The tool supports French and English recognition.
- It’s free for personal use.
The software is free to use. However, the paid versions start from $25 and range up to $2500.
Best for Gmail image spam detection (Free).
Tesseract is a free OCR software, released under Apache License. This open-source also supports output text formatting, page layout analysis, and hOCR positional information. Plus, it uses the Leptonica library to support multiple image formats.
The tool is most suitable for text detection on mobile devices, videos, and Gmail image spam detection. It’s also capable of detecting proportionally and monospaced spaced texts.
What’s more, it can recognize more than 100 languages. Apart from English, it supports other western languages like French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and Brazilian Portuguese. On top of that, you can train Tesseract to recognize more languages. Besides, the OCR software can process right-to-left written languages like Hebrew, Arabic, and more.
- Line Finding – It provides a line finding engine to recognize skewed pages without de-skewing to prevent image quality loss.
- Baseline Fitting – It uses quadratic spline to fit baselines more accurately into the documents. Tesseract can also handle curved baselines.
- Word Recognition – It recognizes words to identify and reduce inaccuracies in the scanned documents.
- It organizes blobs of text into aligned text lines.
- It supports Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.
- Tesseract can recognize and rectify small caps and fuzzy spaces.
- You can train the software to detect other scripts and languages.
- It uses linguistic analysis to figure out most likely words from characters.
- The OCR software detects both proportional and non-proportional words.
Tesseract is an open-source tool and entirely free.
Best for taking and organizing notes ($69.99 per year).
Microsoft OneNote is an OCR tool that helps you take notes, gather information, digital forms, screen clippings, notes, etc. Plus, it lets you copy text from a picture or file printout and paste it in your notes to edit the text.
Now you can even divide and organize your notes into different sections and pages – and navigate those notes with a search bar. Plus, all your notes get saved on their own, and you can find your notes right where you left them. You’ll also get options to revise your notes with highlighting, type, or ink annotations.
Not only this, but you can also create notes together with your colleagues in OneNote. This feature also helps you share your ideas with your colleagues and employees.
Additionally, the To-Do tags option helps you tag your notes to not miss out on any of your important notes.
The tool also lets you record audio notes, insert online videos, and add files. For educational purposes, you can use OneNote to organize lessons in searchable digital notebooks and create a sharable content library.
Besides, you can use OneNote on your mobile phone anywhere, anytime. The mobile application is available on all platforms like iOS, Android, and Windows.
- Clip and save – OneNote provides a Web Clipper to help you save content with a single click.
- Editor – Their in-built editor software helps you identify and correct grammar issues in your text.
- OneDrive Ransomware Detection and Recovery – This feature helps you protect all your files from digital and virus attacks.
- OneDrive Personal Vault – Now you can save your important files with an extra security layer like two-step verification.
- You can draw on your notes using a stylus or your fingers.
- Add files, online videos, audio notes to your notes.
- It provides access to up to 6 members.
- Up to 1 TB storage per person.
- You also get access to other Microsoft Office Mobile apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Microsoft OneNote comes with three pricing plans:
- Office Home & Student: $149.99 (One-time purchase)
- Microsoft 365 Personal: $69.99/year
- Microsoft 365 Family: $99.99/year
You also get a one month trial with the Microsoft 365 Family plan.
8. Amazon Textract.
Best for scanning legal documents (Free for up to 1000 pages).
Amazon Textract is a machine learning software that automatically extracts data and text from scanned documents. Plus, it uses OCR technology to extract data from forms and tables and automatically detect printed text and numbers.
The tool is most suitable for scanning a resume, legal document, book page, etc.
Data extracting doesn’t require any manual effort or manual entry. Not only this, but they all also claim to process millions of documents pages in hours.
The software also automatically detects a document’s layout and essential elements. It also lets you extract data from different documents and present them in a tabular form. This helps you quickly analyze documents that mainly consist of structured data like medical reports, financial reports, inventory reports, etc.
Plus, the OCR software integrates with Amazon Augmented AI(Amazon A2I) to review extracted text from scanned documents.
- Form Extraction – Amazon Textract automatically detects key values in documents.
- Pre-defined Schema – It has a pre-defined schema to extract all the data in the form of rows and columns.
- Automated document processing – You can build automated document processing workflows to process without any human intervention. Amazon Textract can store inputs required to process all the data and text automatically.
- It’s a web-based tool, although you can download it through the command line.
- The tool lets you convert up to 1000 pages for free.
- Compatible with Web, Windows, macOS, and Linux.
The pricing plans depend on the form of data extracted:
- Detect Document Text API (OCR): $0.0015/page
- Analyze Document API for pages with tables: $0.015/page
- Analyze Document API for pages with forms: $0.05/page
- Analyze Document API for pages with tables and forms: $0.015+$0.05/page
New users can analyze up to 1000 pages per month using the Detect Document Text API and up to 100 pages per month using the Analyze Document API for the first three months.
9. Google Docs.
Best for individuals and small-scale requirements (Free).
Google Docs is a web-based word processing software that provides editing and styling features to help you format text and paragraph.
It also has an OCR feature that lets you convert PDF files into editable text for free.
You just have to follow some simple steps, including:
- Upload your PDF file to Google Drive.
- Next, right-click on your file and click on Open With > Google Docs.
- The file will get converted to an editable Google Doc file. However, lists, tables, columns, footnotes, and endnotes might not get detected.
Aside from this, Google docs can detect hundreds of fonts. Plus, you can add images, drawings, images, and more to the converted document.
You can even share your documents with anyone and give them access to those documents in real-time. Google Docs also helps you identify when someone is editing your document and what changes they make.
Now you don't need to hit the save button again. All the changes in the document automatically get saved in Google Drive cloud storage. Plus, you get revision history, who made the changes, what changes did they make, and more.
- Edit in real-time – Share your converted documents with your team members and provide them access to edit in real-time. You can also view the changes in highlighted texts.
- Chat and comment – Chat with others directly from the document or add a comment to convey anything you want.
- Voice typing.
- Get free templates for all types of documents like resumes, reports, and more.
- Access Google Docs anywhere-anytime from your phone, computer, laptop, or tablet.
- Google Docs supports all file formats.
- You can easily check the total Word count.
- Spelling and grammar check.
Google Docs is free.
Best for invoice scanning and data extraction (Quote-based).
Rossum is an AI-based OCR software that helps you extract data from your invoices and reduces manual data entry. They claim to capture 98% of data accurately from any business document and invoices. Not only this, but they also help you reduce errors.
Plus, Rossum doesn’t pose limitations for any type of template and can capture data from any kind of invoice of any style. You can add or change data and give your feedback after the document gets converted or scanned.
And due to AI capability, the software learns and stores data from each invoice and gets smarter with use. It uses spatial OCR technology to scan invoices to understand their possible meaning, structures, and patterns.
Additionally, Rossum automatically prompts the users to review and inspect invoices for which their software is not sure.
- Any Type of Document – Rossum is compatible and can extract data from all types of documents, including invoices, purchase orders, and bills of lading.
- Extensive Integration – It provides integration with numerous third-party business systems like SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, Netsuite, and QuickBooks.
- It supports formats like PDFs, JPGs, and PNGs.
- Their software can export data in four formats like CSV, JSON, XLSX, or XML.
- The software provides NBD email support.
- Unlimited users can have access to a single account.
- Scan multiple documents at once.
OCR software leverages OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to recognize printed or handwritten text inside digital files or physical documents. Its primary functions include examining the text in a document and translating them into code for data processing. In layman language, OCR software is also known as a text recognition tool.
Plus, OCR systems leverage a combination of software and hardware to convert physical documents into readable characters for machines. It uses an optical scanner or specialized circuit board to read or copy texts, and its software typically executes advanced processing.
The software also utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) for advanced ways of intelligent character recognition (ICR), including language identification and handwriting styles.
OCR software is useful to turn hard copies of legal or historical documents into PDFs for archival or data processing purposes. Once a soft copy gets created, you can format, edit, and search documents like you search for other soft copies.
Here are a few essential features that you must look out for in an OCR tool:
- Layout Analysis – It should be able to automatically detect all the columns of text, split, tables, images, and more.
- Search – It should offer easy search features through keywords, filters, titles, and more.
- Split – You should be able to split long documents into multiple shorter documents for easier upload and management.
- Language Recognition – Multiple language recognition can help you process, edit, and store documents in multiple languages from all over the world.
- Format Support – It should support import files in multiple formats, including MS Office, PDG, JPG, and more.
- Layout Detection – It can help you retain the original format and document layout. You can also adjust the format as per your requirement.
- Digital Signature – You should be able to give and take digital signatures on documents from remote locations.
- Collaboration – It should offer extensive collaboration among team members to manage comments.
You might need to digitize printed or hand-written documents, whether you’re running a business or are engaged in any online work. Luckily, you can get this task done quickly with these OCR tools.
If you’re looking for simple OCR software with standard features, I’d suggest Google Docs, Tesseract, and SimpleOCR. And for sole scanning of business documents like invoices, you might want to try Rossum.
For my top pick, I suggest you go with Adobe Acrobat Pro DC since it emerges as the best overall OCR software for complete PDF solutions, and includes features like:
- Extracting text and converting scanned documents into editable PDF files.
- Editing features like text recognition, add comments, page reorders, combine files, etc.
- Compressing PDF Files without losing their quality.
- Converting PDFs into multiple formats.
- Adding and requesting signatures on PDF documents.
Try out these OCR tools firsthand and see how they work for you. Luckily, many of them come with free trial periods or freemium plans.
Which one of these OCR tools are you planning to use, and why? Let me know in the comments below.