10 Best OCR Software of 2022 (Free & Paid Tools)
Stuck with a growing pile of business documents that you’re struggling to organize? Or perhaps you’ve simply run out of storage space for your business documents?
Changing times have led to more and more businesses going digital with almost everything from operations to documentation. That has fast led to paper documents becoming less and less preferred compared to digital documents.
This is where Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software comes into play. OCR software will help you scan and convert your documents into your preferred digital format in seconds, saving you time, money and boosting productivity.
Why You Need an OCR Software
Keeping track of your business documents like invoices, receipts and memos can become both time-consuming and expensive in the long-term. There’s also always the possibility of documents getting lost, misplaced, or damaged during storage.
Speaking of storage, you may find yourself running out of storage space for your paper documents. That means you’ll have to possibly convert them into digital formats.
Traditional scanning can be time-consuming, error-prone, and doesn’t give you the flexibility of converting your document into editable digital formats. OCR software provides a comprehensive solution to all these problems with document storage and handling.
OCR software is a fast, accurate solution that helps you save time and efficiently store your documents in multiple editable formats. This kind of software also makes it easy to leverage cloud storage and cloud-based collaboration tools on your team by digitizing documents.
It helps you to streamline your entire data entry process and simplifies data verification processes. It cuts out the mess of dealing with poorly done scans, illegible handwritten documents and low-quality scanned images.
You can also set up OCR software to automate your data capture process from scanned documents/ images. This makes it easier to integrate data into your organizational workflow and reduces the risk of information slipping through the cracks.
What is OCR & What Does OCR Software Do?
Optical Character Recognition software is software that simply uses technology to identify and recognize text in a digital version of a document, usually scanned images or handwritten paper documents.
It then converts the text into machine-readable text data that can be edited, searched, and properly archived. Basically, if you want to digitize a handwritten note, printed document, or photograph, OCR software makes it possible.
Before OCR technology came into existence, the only way to digitize a printed or handwritten document was to manually type it all over again which was time-consuming, painstaking, and often led to a lot of typos and errors.
This technology first became popular in the 1990s when people wanted to digitize their favorite newspaper sections and columns. It has since gone through a series of updates and overhauls that have vastly improved its accuracy and make it possible to integrate it into document workflows.
Best OCR Software Tools
Today’s OCR software tools are available in multiple forms, be it on desktop, mobile app, or web-based versions. Some even exist in all versions depending on what you choose or subscribe to.
Here we take a look at the best OCR software tools based on ease of use and integration into workflows and features.
Ideal for Scanning Documents and Integrating with Adobe Tools.
Adobe is an industry leader in all things in the digital space and their Acrobat reader is arguably one of the most popular digital document readers on the web. The Acrobat Pro DC is Adobe’s OCR software that integrates with Adobe’s document cloud.
If you happen to use other Adobe tools like Photoshop or Illustrator, you get the benefit of everything syncing with it seamlessly.
Adobe Acrobat DC Pro has a free trial version available, after which you can choose between either a monthly or annual payment plan. Choosing an annual plan gives you a discount.
The Pro version gives you all the advanced OCR features including comments, document feedback, a tool for scanning tables and document comparison. You can edit documents right from your screen after scanning them.
Best Small Business OCR software for Advanced Business Users.
If OCR scanning is vital to your workflow and business overall, OmniPage Ultimate is the ideal tool. This software provides stunning accuracy when it comes to converting scanned documents and is used by some well-established names including Amazon, Ford and GE.
OmniPage Ultimate is not only lightning fast, but also lets you convert paper document inputs from any scanner to any editable format of your choice. You can also create a custom workflow to have your documents automatically go where you need them to, in your preferred format.
OmniPage offers you the Ultimate and Standard versions. The standard version goes for half the price of the ultimate version without the workflow customization option but still offers above-average features that will be more than enough for an OCR solution.
So if OCR is an integral part of your business, get started with OmniPage today.
Ideal Bulk Document Scanning and Processing for Small Businesses.
Abbyy FineReader is better known as a PDF reader but has evolved with time to include digital document management solutions including OCR features. This makes it better suited for small businesses, as opposed to casual users.
The software comes with batch conversion features, which allow you to convert bundles of documents at a go in multiple output formats. It supports 192 languages and even offers mobile apps so you can scan documents from your phone too.
Apart from its basic OCR functions like converting documents to PDFs and Microsoft Word formats, it also allows you to compare documents, add notes and comments.
Abby FineReader offers you a free trial after which you can either purchase it at a one-time perpetual license fee. For corporate users, there’s a business version that comes at an annual fee and includes the automated batch conversion and document comparison feature.
Best User and Budget-Friendly OCR Software for Windows-Based File Formats.
For small business owners who already have a sky-high pile of paperwork that needs to be digitized, Readiris is your comprehensive solution.
The software is all-inclusive and supports multiple file formats including Microsoft word, excel and other office formats including the read text aloud option), signatures, watermarks, annotations.
Simply put, if it has to do with OCR, Readiris got it covered. The program is speedy, efficient and user-friendly. You’ll easily navigate the software without needing a manual or help files. Plus you can digitally secure your output files with PDF password protection and other features.
It supports 138 languages and you can pay for either a Corporate, Pro or Basic version. Advanced features like multilingual support and document protection are only available on the corporate version which charges a one-time fee.
Its mobile versions are available for iOS and Android users and the PC version comes with a free trial. If you’re unsure of which version to start with, you'll find that its basic version offers plenty of features for most of your OCR needs.
5. IBM Datacap
Ideal OCR Option for Advanced Workflow Integration.
IBM Datacap brings you IBM’s technology in a user-friendly, intuitive yet powerful OCR solution. The software helps you make data capture, recognition and classification of business documents an efficient and hassle-free process.
Whether you need to identify handwritten text or simply prune information from paper documents, Datacap simplifies the entire process. You can also build custom document workflows to move your new digitized documents around automatically.
IBM Datacap has options for mobile and PC and also offers features that work with scanners, fax machines, and other document-related devices. This makes it an ideal enterprise-grade OCR solution.
To get started with IBM datacap, you can contact their representative for a personalized quote.
Best OCR for Financial Document Handling and Data Extraction.
Rossum stands out from the competition because it provides a more specific kind of OCR use. It is designed to help scan invoices for specific data that needs to be exported into your program of choice.
For example, instead of extracting all the information on a scanned paper invoice, Rossum can extract a specified data set from your invoice and transfer it to your preferred editing program of choice.
So for businesses that handle lots of invoices or process invoice information Rossum can make a big difference in overall efficiency especially if used alongside standard accounting software.
This feature is powered by A. I which makes it possible to format each invoice differently as opposed to using one template or format. That means every scanned doc can be presented uniquely as opposed to looking similar.
Rossum’s other OCR features like image scanning and converting standard paper documents to editable text are very limited. Because it’s a niche-specific solution, you’ll need to contact their sales team for a price quote.
Best A.I Option for Database Integration and Automation of Data Capture.
Google Document A.I is part of Google’s document processing suite. This A.I powered tool uses machine learning to extract document data, analyze it and classify it into meaningful chunks. Clearly, this tool is more than your regular OCR software.
The platform comes with additional document tools and parsers, all designed to help automate and streamline your document workflows for improved accuracy and compliance. Beyond document processing, Google A.I also integrates easily into Google BigQuery.
That means you can easily sync processed docs with your database. Setting up the platform is easy and it needs little customization or configuration. You’ll also benefit from Google’s cutting-edge cloud storage and security.
Google Document A.I offers pay-as-you-go pricing, meaning you only pay for what you use. For large enterprises, you can run a demo to estimate your month-to-month costs with their free workload credits. New customers get up to $300 in free credits to try the platform out.
8. AWS Textract
Ideal Machine-Learning OCR Software for Invoice and Receipt Data Transcription.
Another machine learning powered platform, AWS Textract uses A.I to extract deep insights and information from text documents and convert them into editable formats. The tool does this exceptionally well for printed documents like invoices and contracts.
The platform is powered by Amazon’s web service. You’ll be able to create a library of images or text detected in uploaded files. AWS Textract uses intelligent text extraction to convert text into words and then lines.
It can even build segmented document tables thanks to its document table analysis. So whether it’s financial documents, research reports or medical notes, AWS Textract can adapt to create text and table renditions of the same data.
While you get maximum security with AWS Textract, it doesn’t do as well with hand-written documents. It also doesn’t offer built-in document verification which is important in identifying fraudulent documents.
In terms of fees, AWS Textract also uses a similar pay-as-you-go model, meaning you only pay for the exact amount of resources you use.
Best Choice For Large Volume Document Processing and Integration with Third Party Apps.
Need to automate low-value tasks and export data to multiple endpoints? Docparser is your go-to simple, no fluff cloud-based document processing and OCR solution.
Whether it is invoices, shipping documents, bank statements, HR and sales forms, Docparser will help you quickly convert all your docs into easily editable formats. Easily export your extracted data into directly downloadable files, spreadsheets, word docs and even XML formats.
You can also sync Docparser with lots of third-party apps like Salesforce, Google sheets, Zapier and even custom web hooks.
Docparser also lets you create standard rules for your recurring document fields like invoice numbers, document reference numbers, dates and much more. You can even create rules for recurring values within a table.
You can choose the basic free forever version of Docparser for your basic OCR needs which lets you parse 50 -100 pages of documents a month.
Advanced versions cost between $32.50 to $133/month with document ranges for between 100 to 5000 pages per month based on your pricing plan.
Ideal OCR Software for Invoice, Contract, Receipts With Real-Time Reporting and Fraud Detection.
Klippa is your all-in-one document processing, data extraction and classification tool designed to digitize all your documents in a simple step. Klippa offers specialized features for the financial and accounting industry that make it easier to process receipts, invoices and manage expenses.
It helps you digitize all your financial paperwork and discover insights to help you better manage your finances based on extracted data. The platform offers a unique dashboard where you can view extracted data for better comparisons and analysis.
You can also generate real-time reports, detect fraudulent transactions and approve claims and expense requests submitted by staff.
Its OCR functionality makes it easy to upload data into the system while preventing errors and allows categorization of expenses into tables and multiple folders.
Klippa offers a free basic version with limited functionality. If you want advanced reporting, VAT plus other payment methods, business and other related expense-filing, that costs approximately $4.70 per month.
There’s also separate pricing for teams billed per user per month (approx. $2.95 per user per month) and separate pricing for invoice processing features based on the number of invoices you process per month.
How to Choose the Best OCR Software?
If you’re looking for OCR software, you’ll have a lot of options to choose from which can be confusing. What else should you look out for apart from the basic OCR functions? We’ll take a look at some points to look out for when you’re choosing OCR software.
1. Niche-specific features
The most important factor that should influence your choice of OCR software is it should have features suited to your needs. Many OCR software today comes with specific features suited for a particular kind of use.
For example, some have a specific invoice and receipt identification feature designed to help businesses that process a lot of financial paperwork. Others may have A.I. powered features that allow better customization and also automatically categorize information.
You may find some of these features to be overkill if all you need is something to simply scan and convert paper docs into digital, editable formats.
2. Ease of Use and Adaptability
Any software is only as useful and powerful as the user’s ability to make the most of its features. Likewise, your choice of OCR software should be easy to navigate and use. It should have standard features that are easy to understand and apply and also process data smoothly.
Unless you intend to hire a team of developers or have developers on your team, your OCR software shouldn’t require advanced programming to customize and configure. Configuring your software to fit your needs should be simple and intuitive.
If you choose an OCR software that has machine learning capability, it should make it easy to process documents and extract relevant information in the future.
Machine learning should enable the software to build a template of frequently used formats and rules so it can automatically process data in your preferred format. Again, it should also easily integrate with third-party software you use in your day-to-day workflow like CRM or ERP software.
3. Handles Data Irregularities
One common problem associated with OCR software is not being able to identify document text or images if they differ greatly from what standard document text looks like.
This could mean the document has cursive fonts in different sizes, shadowy text, blurred images, unclear handwritten texts, and much more.
If you tend to handle such paper documents, it’s worth making sure your OCR software is well-equipped to recognize and handle such data irregularities with ease.
It should easily convert such documents into clear, easily editable formats that can be saved.
4. Provides Data Processing
If your workflow involves converting paper documents into editable formats for further processing, it’s worth investing in OCR software that comes built-in with data processing. This means your software should be able to not only convert but organize the data into meaningful outputs.
Such features are not usually available on basic OCR software plans but may be available on advanced plans. They might form words and sentences with extracted data, tabulate, categorize and in some cases even authenticate scanned documents to eliminate fraudulent documents.
If you need your software to intelligently sort out and structure extracted data into multiple formats to provide insights, then choose one that offers advanced, fast data processing. Options like Google’s Document A.I are great and may even integrate easily with data visualizations tools like Google Charts.
Is There Any Free OCR Software?
Lots of the OCR software offer built-in advanced functionality but not without a hefty price tag. That does not mean you can’t get free OCR software that performs basic OCR tasks efficiently.
Most free OCR software operate on open-source OCR systems (for example, Tesseract) to let you convert scanned PDFs, photos or TIFF documents into basic editable text formats.
Choosing a free OCR software will however give you limited features and usability, like limited formats to convert into or limited formats to scan from.
You won’t get advanced features like say machine learning, but you’ll be able to extract basic text and convert them into editable formats. Free OCRs also don’t do well with handwritten documents, multi-column tables, cursive fonts or low quality images.
Below we look at some free OCR software that lets you convert scanned PDF or TIFF files to plain text or document files
- Office Lens
- New OCR
- Easy Screen OCR
- OCR Using Microsoft OneNote
- OCR With Google Docs
- Photo Scan