I've been wanting OCR software for Mac OS X and I haven't been
seeing anything other than Omnipage but I don't need OCR badly enough to spend THAT kind of coin.
One of the regulars here had mentioned Evernote on Twitter (thanks, Bruce) and I signed up for their Mac Beta. That
was confusing: they never said that I WAS signed up, and when I downloaded
the software and tried it I was told my account didn't exist. A few weeks
later I got a notice of updated software and when I downloaded that,
everything started working. I have no idea if you can or cannot
get an account (there's a Windows version too), but there's no harm in
trying. I also don't know what this is going to cost when it's out
of beta, so I don't know whether I'll be keeping it..
But for the moment, this is neat. The basic idea is that you can
drag and drop anything (web pages, cut and paste stuff, pictures, movies)
into Evernote "notebooks", add tags if you like, and retrieve it later
by searching. The very nice part is that it automatically does OCR on
pictures and that at least partially solved my OS X OCR needs.
What OCR needs? Oh, nothing really important. There's a typed up
list of our neighbors phone numbers that comes out once in a while.
It's currently eight double-sided pages and they ("they" being the
management of this community) don't provide it electronically, so it's
not searchable except by eye. It can be annoying when I say
"Oh, by the way, Joe said.." and my wife responds "Which Joe?" and
I say "Umm, you know, Joe and.. what's her name? They live over on
Pheasant.. umm, I think they live on Pheasant.."
So then we go paw through all those pages looking for "Joe" until
we find him. This has happened so often that I've thought of retyping
all those pages so that I can search them, but that's a lot of work.
What I did was just snap pictures of the typewritten pages and drag
them into Evernote. I felt like a cold war spy while taking the pictures,
but after syncing with their server and patiently
waiting a few minutes, I could search those photos for any name
within. Wow - that was easy.
I did find that the OCR isn't perfect. There are some names I couldn't
find but taking another photo and dragging that in can fix that. I
used iPhoto to enhance some of the pictures; that didn't help the OCR
(actually seemed to make it less accurate!) but it made it easier for me
to see the images after Evernote found the applicable ones.
I'm not sure how much else I'll use this for, but this alone made
me a fan.
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