ocr - Handwritten recognition software?

  • Tim

    I was wondering if there are some descent handwritten recognition software? I have tried several OCR applications, but they can only work well on scanned printed documents, not on scanned handwritten documents.

    The software can be either free/open source (preferable) or commercial.

    My OS is Ubuntu (preferable), and I also would like to hear about solutions for Windows.

    Although some similar question has been asked before, things can be changed over time.

  • Answers
  • Brian Carlton

    Evernote does this. It is multi-platform, but I don't know if the Linux version does that. The Windows version does.

  • ChrisF

    The software that comes bundled with the Wacom Bamboo Pen tablet seems to do a decent job.

    Though this is using the pen to write with and converting the input to characters in (more or less) real-time rather than taking a scanned image and performing OCR on that.

  • Related Question

    osx - Simple, free OCR software (for OS X)?
  • dbr

    Something I've had an occasional need for, but I've never found an application I liked - OCR

    Basically I want to take a photo/scan of a document, and convert it to a text document of some kind (Ideally an option for plain-text, perhaps a .doc or .pages)


    • Must have a native (Cocoa) GUI, not under X11
    • Free

    Optional pluses:

    • Doesn't require installation, just drag-app-to-Applications-folder (a lot of the OCR utilities I found required libraries to be installed and such)
    • Support images in scanned documents
    • (Apple-)scriptable
    • Open source

  • Related Answers
  • Ludwig Weinzierl

    When I researched this topic a while ago there wasn't any free software for any platform that produced reasonable quality output.

    The Optical character recognition article at Wikipedia lists the following free OCR applications:

    I only tried gocr from these, it has no gui and the qualitiy of its output is very low.

    I's suggest to go with a commercial product. Either ABBY Finereader or OmniPage, both of which have OS X versions. They are often bundled with scanners and you can buy them pretty cheap if you don't need the latest version.

  • Jeremy French

    Tesseract, is free, has an OSX port and a how to

  • Slink84

    Never heard of any good free OCR for Mac :] There is GOCR, but it is rather crappy. From the low cost apps I would recommend VelOCRaptor. You can try it out for free.

  • Ronald Pottol

    how about evernote? send them the image, they ocr it for you.

  • Haddock

    Sorry, but some command line action is involved in this solution...

    If all you need to do is convert a PDF containing scanned pages into text, the following method has given me good results - where GUI based tools such as VelOCRaptor have failed (I'm talking about a 134 page PDF doc with scanned pages).

    All programs in the tool chain are free or come with OSX.

    • With Preview, save the PDF as TIFF, 150dpi. Make sure you have enough disk space to play with.
    • Run the TIFF through Tesseract (install using MacPorts / Fink)
    • Now you have a raw text file, which can be spell checked using any good editor (TextWrangler, TextEdit, etc.)

    Good luck!

  • dbr

    I have just found something called 'PDF OCR X Community Edition. It's pretty basic - it just gets plain text out without formatting. However, it works quite well. I used it for scanning German, even though officiall it only works with English, and it was ok.

  • Darren Meyer

    I haven't been able to find anything for free, but PDFScanner is cheap at $15, is a native OS-X app (Snow Leopard and Lion only, AFAICT), and both scans to an OCR'd PDF and lets you open and OCR an existing PDF. It's the only not-horribly-expensive thing I've found.

  • Troggy


    Sounds like if you have microsoft office, there is a tool that can convert images into files. Other than that, i am not seeing anything that is free for os x.

    http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=9807438 Very recent apple discussion in the support forums

    you did mention you only want a native cocoa app, if you could consider some of the linux builds, you might have some luck as there are a few options there.

  • Larry Gritz

    I know it's not free, but I've had reasonably good experience using ReadIris, which you can find for around $60. Basically it will take scans, jpegs or several other image formats, or even PDFs containing scanned data, do OCR on them, and write as PDF ("searchable" -- i.e., text and/or the image itself).