What is OCR – why & how might I use it?

OCR (Optical Character Recognition)  will process a image (e.g. jpg, tiff, bmp,…) and will extract any printed text it finds and give it back to you as a text file,/MS Word file so that you can edit it. (it can be used with PDFs too)

This can be useful if you’ve lost the original electronic source of your document but have a printout you could scan/photograph. You can also grab a copy of whatever is displayed on your screen and save it as an image file to OCR.

Method 1 – Using your Kent computer

All Kent PCs should have Microsoft OneNote installed. Using this it’s easy to extract the raw text from the image.
e.g.  http://www.howtogeek.com/61012/how-to-use-onenote-printer-to-extract-text-from-images-and-pdfs/

Method 2 – Departmental scanners

There are a number of image scanners around the department and some of these come with OCR software. In particular, the high-speed scanner that is situated in the MSc area (A block, ground floor) includes OCR functionality.

Method 3 – At home

If you want to work on your own PC or at home then there are some FREE OCR programs around.

After a completely inexhaustive study of the first free one that Google directed me to, I can recommend FreeOCR [http://free-ocr-scanning.soft112.com/  – I used v4.2]

It’s very easy to use (plus there is built-in Help), simply open an image file or load in a PDF, then click the OCR button. You can even click and drag to select only a part of the original image if you don’t want to process the whole image.

Then save the converted text as .txt, .docx or , .rtf



the photocopier in the A-block printer room (dpmcgowan) can scan as well as photocopy. You can either save the scanned images by plugging your USB memory stick into the printer, or you can get it to email the images to you.

If you use this at home, then take care with the install, as like many free programs, it tries to trick you into also installing other things, like browser toolbars so make sure you choose the ‘Advanced’ install and read each dialog box carefully before clicking ‘next’.

Remember you can use the Print Screen button on your keyboard to get an image of the screen, then paste it into MS Paint to create a jpg file

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