Transform Pictures Into Editable Text With OCR Tools

Transform Pictures Into Editable Text With OCR Tools

January 14, 2019

A picture is worth a thousand words, but it’s still just a picture unless you can get the words off of it. Have you ever wished you could transform pictures into editable text?

It might sound like a dream, but it’s actually possible. All you need is the right tool. OCR, optical character recognition, tools are designed to do just that.

You used to need a special scanner along with the right software to do this, but now all you need is the software and an image. Extract from images, PDFs, scanned documents and more.

Why Extract Text

You might be wondering why you couldn’t just type the text yourself from the picture. After all, it shouldn’t be that hard right?

The only problem is sometimes there’s a lot of text, such as with legal or medical documents. Scanning them onto your computer only gives you an image or PDF file. If you need to edit the text any, you’re out of luck. You don’t really want to type pages worth of text when you could just turn the image or PDF file into editable text in a few clicks do you?

If you’re never really tried transforming pictures into editable text, you might not see many uses for it at first, but here are just a few of the most common reasons:

  • Creating a revised version of a scanned document
  • Changing or copying words from a meme or other image
  • Save written text as an editable document
  • Turn scanned document images into editable files to add new components
  • Turn screenshots into text to get error codes, steps and more
  • Create a file directory from screenshot
  • Edit text from any image where the text itself can’t be selected

How Does OCR Work

Now you’re probably wondering what kind of magic OCR is and how it works, right? OCR tools process digital images, including scanned files, by looking for individual characters. Depending on the tool you use, OCR technology then captures just the text and exports it into a new file. Other tools are able to make the text editable within the image itself. This is great if you find an image with a great quote, but it’s misspelled.

It’s important to note that while OCR was originally designed for printed text, such as scanned documents, it’s also able to recognize handwritten text. Of course, if the handwriting is poor or the ink is blurred, all of the text might not come through.

Recognizing text is a three-step process. The first step is pre-processing. Depending on the tool used, the pre-processing steps vary. The ultimate goal is to determine what characters are text and which aren’t. This process also tries to eliminate background clutter that may get confused as text during the next step.

During the actual processing step, each line of text is identified individually.
Characters are compared to patterns and features stored within the tool. When a close or exact match is found, the OCR tool assigns a value to the character, such as assigning the letter “a” when determining the second letter of the word “cat.”

The final step is one of the most important – making sure the processed text makes sense. The second step just tries to identify individual characters and lines. For instance, it may ensure slanted text all goes on the same line when processed. The post-processing phase has to make sense of everything. For example, the word “WILL” might come out as “W1LL” instead. This final step compares all processed text to its own database of words, phrasing, numbers and symbols to catch final errors, such as an “I” being changed to a “1.”

Transforming pictures into editable text is a complicated process, but with OCR tools, it seems easy as the end user.

Since so much goes into it, it’s important to remember that the editable text might not always be 100% correct. A smudge on a letter could result in erroneous results. However, most OCR tools are at least 98% accurate.

Choosing The Right OCR Tool

A quick Google search for OCR tools yields over 36 million results. No one wants to dig through that. The right tool has all the following features:

  • High level of accuracy
  • Works with or without a scanner
  • Can handle images and PDFs
  • Doesn’t require extra software

WPS Office Premium not only includes a full suite of productivity tools, including a word processor, but the ability to transform PDFs directly to editable text within WPS Writer. No extra software necessary.

Now, you don’t have to wish you can transform pictures into editable text. Use OCR tools like the one in WPS Office Premium to make your wishes come true.

About Author

Marketing team in the WPS office located in Mountain View