If your OCR needs are small, then this limited but free online service will extract your text just fine.
To convert only a few small documents. there’s no need to install a full-blown OCR program. You can use a free service like Free-OCR (also known as Free-OCR.com) and upload a scan of your document. File size is limited to 2MB and 5000 pixels in any direction, about 150 dpi for a standard page. The OCR engine handles 29 languages, including English.
Although you don’t have to register or even fork over your email address, the Free-OCR site does make you fill in one of those annoying CAPTCHAs. (Thanks, Web bad guys, for making everyone’s life more difficult.) Those CAPTCHAs serve to remind one just how difficult OCR can be. If humans, with our incredible heuristic abilities, occasionally have problems with these, just think how poor straight-line software perusing a stream of bits must feel.
Free-OCR did a decent job of extracting the text from my test documents. With standard typed pages, you should have no problems. The site does not output files or recreate documents. It simply places the extracted text in a box for cutting and pasting. As a matter of fact, embedded graphics tend to confuse the output.
Free-OCR is not suitable for large jobs or overly complex documents, but when all you need is to quickly get the text out of a basic document scan, it does nicely in most cases.
Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor’s site, where you can use this Web-based software.
Jon Jacobi is a musician, former x86/6800 programmer, and long-time computer enthusiast. He writes reviews on TVs, SSDs, dash cams, remote access software, Bluetooth speakers, and sundry other consumer-tech hardware and software.