Search for Text in Scanned Files With Recollect Desktop

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Desktop search utilities (like Copernic) are a great way to find files that may be buried somewhere in your PC-as long as you're looking for a file that's compatible with your search program. But what if the information you're looking for is in an image or a scanned file? You might be out of luck-unless you have Recollect Desktop. This application can analyze and search the contents of what it calls "unstructured documents." These include scanned files, e-mails, PDFs, and TIFFs, while making sense of misspelled and run-together words.

I tested the $100 Standard Edition of Recollect Desktop; the company also offers a $150 Professional version. The software's interface is all business (read: bland), and using it is not always intuitive. Luckily, the Getting Started guide provides clear directions that walk you through the setup process, even if they don't always make it easy to understand why you're doing what you're doing. (What you are doing, it turns out, is specifying which directories on your computer you'd like Recollect Desktop to monitor and index files from.)

Once the initial indexing is complete--and it's a pretty quick process--Recollect Desktop goes to work finding your files. It conducts "fuzzy" searches, allowing the application to find documents and files containing certain words, even when the words are spelled wrong. In my tests, the application's search results were quick and mostly impressive.

The Standard Edition is designed for home users who have a lot of paper documents that they need to manage electronically. If you scan paperwork such as school records, tax papers, or insurance forms, Recollect Desktop can help you keep track of it all. The Professional version is designed for companies that do the same thing in their business.

Recollect Desktop isn't always pretty or easy to use, but it does what it's supposed to do well.

Note: The trial version is limited to 15 days or 2,500 pages, whichever comes first.

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