Methods for Using Optical Character Recognition to Transform Handwritten Images

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Do you want to edit or index your handwritten notes, but need to digitize them first? Alternatively, the image of the handwritten quote can be copied if you prefer. An optical character recognition (OCR) tool is what you require.

Text in images can be converted into editable text with the help of OCR software by analyzing the handwriting or typing. In the event that a word is misspelled, there is a spell checker available in some programs. For this report, we put six popular optical character recognition programs to the test.

OneNote from Microsoft

Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android versions are all available.

Microsoft OneNote is an electronic note-taking app that also functions as a reasonably competent handwriting OCR program. The Copy Text From Picture menu item appears when you right-click an imported image. To edit the image's text, use this command to pull out the letters. A few seconds are all it takes for this solution to kick in.

The results can be inconsistent, but that's to be expected from any handwriting OCR app. Overall, though, it does a good job, even with more difficult-to-read text. Make it work for you by only using uppercase letters when taking notes.

Microsoft OneNote is a free, cloud-based app that can be accessed from and synced between computers, tablets, and smartphones. Our OneNote Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide has all the details if you're curious to know more.

Microsoft OneNote is available for free download on Android, iOS, and Windows PC/Mac.

google drive ocr handwriting

Online, on Android, and in the App Store

If you use Google, you probably already have one of the apps that can convert handwriting to text.

The primary one is Drive by Google. Launch the app from your mobile device, then tap the scan button. While you can't make changes to the PDFs it saves in Drive, they are searchable. This is the best method for indexing your handwritten notes with minimal effort.

Drive and Google Docs work together to make it easy to convert handwritten notes into editable text.

Create a PDF file of your note, as before, by scanning it. Then jump over to your desktop and open Google Drive Right-click the scanned file, and choose Open with > Google Docs. When you do this, the PDF will open in Docs as text that you can then edit or copy and paste into another file. The editable version is also automatically saved in Drive.

A third choice is available. If you have an iOS device, you can access Google Lens within Google Photos to conduct a visual search for physical items. In the case of text, it is also functional. To decode text, hold your phone's camera over the written or drawn text and wait a few seconds. Then, tap to finish your search.

Google's OCR tools for handwriting are among the best because they utilize machine learning.

You can get Google Drive for free on Android and iOS.

Google Lens is available for free on Android and iOS.


Only available on desktops

The dictionary of this free program can be expanded to include more than 120,000 words. Up to 99% accuracy is claimed by SimpleOCR, and it can be configured to ignore formatting altogether. If the handwriting you're converting is sloppy, you can improve accuracy by using the despeckle or noisy document feature.

Since it can be instructed to interpret complete documents, selected passages, or multiple documents at once, SimpleOCR is a time-saving instrument. The aforementioned accuracy rating, however, most obviously applies to graphical text and less so to handwritten media. SimpleOCR may not perform as well as the Microsoft or Google alternatives.

Free OCR software: SimpleOCR

online ocr

Web-Based Availability

The entire process of uploading an image, selecting an output format, and downloading the finished file can be done in less than one minute on this user-friendly website. This is a free service that does not require registration. Simply type in the characters you see in the captcha.

Use this tool with caution, as Online OCR produced incomprehensible nonsense when tested with a PNG photograph of handwriting to TXT format. There is little to lose by giving it a try because of how cheap and simple it is. Online OCR may be useful because it can read a variety of languages.

If you'd rather not use an app, there are plenty of other OCR tools available for no cost and no download.

Give Free Online OCR a Shot!


Exclusive to Windows

One of the most effective pieces of OCR software is TopOCR.

TopOCR's dual-pane format shows the original image on the left and the converted image on the right when using an image captured with a scanner or digital camera as the source. If your handwriting reads left to right, you can expect decent results. Columns almost certainly mean the program is inaccurate.

TopOCR can efficiently convert documents to PDF and supports 11 different languages. If you're considering purchasing a shareware app, the free version should be functional enough for you to determine whether or not it meets your needs before making the investment. TopOCR's incompatibility with Macs and Linux computers is a major drawback.

Get TopOCR (Try it free for 7 days or pay $4) Price: (full version)


Exclusive to Windows

FreeOCR is an image and PDF recognition program that runs on Windows. Although it converts quickly, the accuracy is poor because it hasn't been updated in a long time.

The software that powers FreeOCR was not initially intended to perform the task of converting scanned handwriting to text. Some users, however, claim that after using the program for that purpose numerous times and paying close attention to the instructions provided in user guides and forums, the program's accuracy improved. If the other choices don't pan out, this one is certainly worth a shot.

FreeOCR is a free download.

It's difficult to find a better option than Google's handwriting recognition tools when you need to convert handwriting to text. It's not foolproof and has a lot to do with how clear your writing is to begin with, but it can yield very good results sometimes.

Making sure your writing is straightforward to read is a surefire way to improve your results. Therefore, if you prefer typing to writing, you may want to practice your handwriting again.

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