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Free PDF-XChange can now OCR!

OCR stands for Optical character recognition. If you scan a document to PDF, what you will get is a picture of a page, just as you would if you scanned to JPG or took a picture of it with a digital camera. It is just like any other picture; just a big image. However, when we scan to PDF, we usually want to have searchable text. We'd like to be able to find things inside the document. Perhaps, we'd like to be able to edit it, fill in a form, or copy and paste some of it to a word processor. We normally don't want a picture of it, because a picture is a single unit.

However, the technology to look through an image and recognize the letters and words is very difficult. For the last year or so, the amazing free PDF-XChange viewer has included a pretty good OCR option. So now, that viewer not only lets you fill in forms, add comments, add stamps, it can even OCR the document.

Who needs this?

This is great for the occasional user who wants to scan to pdf once or twice a year and then have that document be searchable or to fill in parts of it. For those of us who scan frequently, I recommend Fujitsu scanners. For fairly light use (under 50 pages/day), I really like the Scansnap S1300i, though I use the Scansnap S1100 and love it. Earlier this year I wrote an article about them. Heavy duty users should get heavier duty scanners. These scanners will quickly zip any document though the sheet feeder, make it searchable, and set it up for easy filing. However, for the occasional scanner, who has a printer or scanner that can scan documents to PDF, the OCR within PDFXchange viewer is terrific.

What to do

Once you've scanned a document to PDF and brought it up in PDF-XChange Viewer, just click the OCR Icon in the Toolbar and then save the document. Remember, when you save it after doing the OCR, you will lose the picture you had. You'll be saving the OCR'd document.

If you don't see the OCR Icon, you may need to update your PDF-XChange viewer (HELP > Check for Updates) if you still don't see it, then activate the file related toolbar from the View menu (View > Toolbars > File). This will display icons related to file actions. Finally, you can use Menu > Document > OCR Pages.

Date: December 2012

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