Best Free Offline OCR Software for 2023

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Connie Wisley
June 18, 2023 Preview 34.6K Preview 1
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OCR is now widely applied to turn scans and images into searchable and readable text. If you have scans or images that you need to turn into searchable text, you may search for a free OCR software.

Here in this article I used my expertise in the industry to thoroughly test and compare more than 20 free OCR software that are either completely free, or have a free trial version with a lot of the necessary functionality. I narrowing it down to the 11 best and safest options. Whether you want to turn scanned PDF into searchable text, extract text from images or whether you’re using Android or iPhone… we got you covered.

What is Offline OCR?

OCR, which is Optical Character Recognition, it is the technology to recognize text from a image-based file (scanned PDFs, images) or paper documents. It will make these files to digital copies of readable and searchable texts.

There are both online and offline OCR tools. Online OCR refers to web-based OCR services that perform OCR on uploaded files online, then save the output documents to local hard drive of a device, users need to have access to Internet and upload the files to 3rd party server which stores those files for 24 hours or more.

While offline OCR refers to desktop or mobile software to perform OCR even without accessing to Internet. As long as we have these apps installed on our device, we can perform OCR at anytime anywhere without staying online. And the files stay on our device.

The Benefits of Using OCR Software

It has been estimated that 40% of all document imaging and scanning work is rework. But when OCR converts a scanned image into digital text, it becomes a searchable text file, thus making all things possible like: 

* You could quickly find your favorite quote within a large document. 
* You can also copy, paste, and edit passages of text within the document.
* You files become much smaller than a scanned one.
* You can cut down the cost of hiring consultants to help with data extraction.  
* For those who are blind or visually impaired, OCR software can help decipher text and have it read aloud.

From the below infographic, we find that a greater number of companies are now looking for OCR solutions than before and this trend will only grow in the future. 

Image source:[Optical Character Recognition Market Growth Analysis, 2022-28]

Free OCR Software Testing Statistics 

Criteria Value 
Quantity of tested tools 20
Time duration  2 months 
OS Version  Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
File Types Scanned PDF files, images with different conditions

A Closer Look At Our Favorite No Cost OCR Software

#1 Cisdem PDF Converter OCR — The Most Accurate Offline OCR Software

If you want to edit scanned documents as freely as possible, make it in searchable PDF, editable Word or other formats then Cisdem PDF Converter OCR is the best OCR software for you. 

It is my favorite OCR Software on the market  — and while it doesn’t currently have a free plan, it offers a freetrail and a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee, which gives you 1 months to try it out and see if this is the right OCR software for you. It has an advanced OCR engine, support convert PDF to MS Office, iWork, image and more. and it can also work as a PDF creator which can create PDF from Word, PowerPoint, Excel, HTML, EPUB, etc.

Cisdem PDF Converter OCR provides perfect recognition accuracy in all conditions. In all of our tests, it was able to perform OCR on scanned files in all conditions, from simple ones like scanned PDF and images to complex background PDFs, or PDF diagrams. It also has excellent file conversion capability, the converted files keep all the layout and fonts.

Cisdem PDF Converter OCR comes with a wide range of quality extras, including:

High Quality — Convert scans and PDF to searchable ones and keep the original text, layout and formatting.
Process Files in Batches — Can convert multiple files at the same time.
File Format Support — Support convert PDF and images to 20+ formats like MS Office, iWork and images.
Powerful PDF Creator — Create PDF from Word, excel, Image and other 40+ formats in a breeze.
Page Range Support - You can set to only convert certain PDF pages.
Language Support — Supports multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Italian, 
German, French, etc.
And much more…

Bottom Line:

Cisdem PDF Converter OCR offers unparalleled OCR recognition technology, a wide range of high-end converting features, and affordable plans with 30 days free-trail. 

Free Download Windows 11/10/8/7 Free Download macOS 10.11 or later

To OCR scanned PDF and images using Cisdem PDF 

1: Open Cisdem PDF Converter OCR and Click the Converter interface.

2: Drag and drop to add your scanned PDF or images.

2. When you add scanned files the program will ask you to download the OCR module installer. Click OK to install it.


4: Set the PDF pages you want to convert, choose the language of your PDF file and set the output format as OCR PDF.

#2 Capture2Text

capture2text

OS Platform: Windows

Our Rating: 4.0/5.0

Free Download Capture2Text Software: https://sourceforge.net/projects/capture2text/

Best For: OCR text from screen captures and convert text to speech.

Capture2Text is a powerful OCR program to recognize texts from screen captures. Though only allows users to turn captures to plain text, it offers extended features, like text replacement, translation, text to speech conversion. In addition, it allows users to configure different settings to customize the OCR according to needs. However, it seems Capture needs further work to fix the bugs regarding translation and OCR.

What We Like

  1. Support OCR 98 languages
  2. Save recognized text to clipboard, or show in popup window, or keep line breaks
  3. Perform text replacements
  4. Translate to other languages
  5. Convert text to speech

What We Don’t Like

  1. Export as Text only, no formatting
  2. No batch OCR support
  3. Program crashes sometimes

#3 PDF OCR X Community Edition

pdf ocr x community

OS Platform: Windows and macOS

Our Rating: 4.0/5.0

Free Download PDF OCR X Community Software: https://solutions.weblite.ca/pdfocrx/download

Best For: OCR PDF and images with simple interface.

PDF OCR X Community is an extremely simple program to perform OCR on both PDF and various images. You just need to drag and drop the file, then choose output format and file language to start the OCR progress. It supports exporting files as Text or searchable PDF, but can convert single-page PDF only. To convert multiple-page PDF, you need to update to its Enterprise version or split the PDF to several single-page PDF for free OCR. Same as FreeOCR, it hasn’t been updated for years. You may have crash issues on latest operating systems.

What We Like

  1. OCR PDF and images
  2. Export as Text and searchable PDF
  3. Easy to use, just drag and drop
  4. Recognize 60 languages

What We Don’t Like

  1. No batch OCR support
  2. Convert single-page PDF only
  3. Process OCR slowly

#4 SimpleOCR

simpleocr

OS Platform: Windows

Our Rating: 4.0/5.0

Free Download SimpleOCR Software: https://www.simpleocr.com/download/

Best For: OCR PDF and images with spell check. 

SimpleOCR from SimpleSoftware, is a freeware to do OCR on PDF, image, even paper files from a connected scanner. SimpleSoftware offers various brands of OCR tools, its SimpleOCR gives users a free experience to know how efficient and convenient an OCR tool can be. If your file is reversed, you can rotate to have a more accurate OCR. Also, it supports spell check, you can replace those suspected errors with words from the dictionary. Yet, it may take you some time to manually adjust the errors.

What We Like

  1. OCR files in batch
  2. OCR files from scanner, PDF and image
  3. Spell check is allowed
  4. Save file as Word or TXT
  5. Allow rotating files

What We Don’t Like

  1. Take time to finish an OCR job
  2. Crash frequently

#5 FreeOCR

freeocr

OS Platform: Windows

Our Rating: 3.8/5.0

Free Download FreeOCR Software: http://www.paperfile.net/download2.html

Best For: OCR and convert PDF files to Text, Word and RTF.

FreeOCR from PaperFile is based on Tesseract OCR to turn scans, PDF and image to 3 formats: Text, Word and RTF. It offers batch OCR and allows users to export files as JPG. Though it is designed to convert files to editable Word, the formatting cannot keep in the Word file. In addition, the last update for this program was released in 2015, there may be some technical errors on different, especially latest Windows. Anyway, it offers high accuracy and deserves a try.

What We Like

  1. Support OCR on scans, PDF and image
  2. Export files as Text, Word and RTF
  3. Recognize 11 languages
  4. Export file as JPG

What We Don’t Like

  1. Time consuming to process OCR
  2. No formatting is preserved even when exported as Word format
  3. No batch OCR support
  4. Outdated interface
  5. Respond slow when importing files

#6 Free OCR to Word

free ocr to word

OS Platform: Windows and macOS

Our Rating: 3.8/5.0

Free Download Free OCR to Word Software: https://www.ocrtoword.com/

Best For: Free OCR software with fast speed.

Free OCR to Word offers an easy way to turn files from scanner and images to editable Word or Text format. Other than other free OCR tools, it has an excellent support on image input, besides common image, it also does OCR on ICO, PCX, PSD, CUR, DCM, WMF, EMF, TGA, PXM, WBMP, CRW, WPD, IEV, JP2, J2K, DCX and LYR All. In addition, it offers a set of image and document tools, to view and manage the file easily, which gives a better user experience.

What We Like

  1. OCR scans and image
  2. Offer a set of image tools for better view
  3. Offer a set of document tools to copy, paste, remove and output text
  4. Export as Word and Text
  5. Fast OCR

What We Don’t Like

  1. Cannot highly maintain the original formatting
  2. Need manually adjust the OCR errors

#7 SuperGeek Free OCR

supergeek free ocr

OS Platform: Windows

Our Rating: 3.8/5.0

Free Download SuperGeek Free OCR Software: https://www.ocrfree.net/download.php

Best For: OCR and convert PDF files to Text, Word.

Does this program look familiar to you? Let’s say Free OCR to Word. Yes, I finally figure out that SuperGeek Free OCR and Free OCR to Word are exactly the same program, having the same functions but using a different color of interface and available on different website. I have been hesitate if I should put this SuperGeek program on this list, anyway, it is an option to do OCR for free and offline, for users who have problems accessing to Free OCR to Word, this program may help.

What We Like

  1. OCR scans and image
  2. Offer a set of image and document tools for better user experience
  3. Export as Word and Text
  4. Fast OCR

What We Don’t Like

  1. Cannot highly maintain the original format and layout
  2. Need manually adjust the OCR errors

#8 OneNote - Free OCR Software You Might Already Have

oennote ocr

OS Platform: macOS, Windows, iOS, Android

Our Rating:3.8 /5.0

Free Download OneNote OCR Software: https://products.office.com/en/onenote/digital-note-taking-app

Best For: OCR software you might already have.

OneNote from Microsoft is a note-taking program to create and organize notes across different platforms, including macOS, Windows, Android and iOS, also it offers online free portal to manage your notes anytime anywhere. It is free and mainly focusing on processing notes, to process notes source from PDF or images, it builds in OCR feature to copy text from these files, then embed to a note for other use.

What We Like

  1. Highly compatible on different operating system
  2. High OCR accuracy to recognize text
  3. Support OCR on PDF and image
  4. Easy to use

What We Don’t Like

  1. Doesn’t support batch OCR
  2. Export as Text only
  3. No formatting is preserved
  4. Program crash sometimes

#9 Adobe Scan Mobile App

adobe scan app

OS Platform: Android and iOS

Our Rating: 3.6/5.0

Free Download Adobe Scan OCR Software: https://acrobat.adobe.com/us/en/mobile/scanner-app.html

Best For: OCR software for mobile user.

Speaking of PDF editing or OCR files, Adobe is definitely the most professional solution. But its price tag is always the obstacle to install this program. So, it’s really a good news that its mobile version is free to users. Adobe Scan mobile app is available on both Android and iOS, helping turn scans under their mobile phone camera to copyable text. To yield high quality Adobe OCR result, it provides basic editing feature to optimize the photo scans.

What We Like

  1. Accurate OCR result
  2. Automatically detect and capture scans
  3. Turn scans to PDF
  4. Auto recognize text
  5. Edit photo scans
  6. Connect with other apps to edit, convert, fill and sign PDFs

What We Don’t Like

  1. In-app purchase is required when export as Word or for advanced options
  2. No batch OCR

#10 LEADTOOLS OCR Application

leadtools

OS Platform: macOS

Our Rating: 3.5/5.0

Free Download LEADTOOLS OCR Software: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/leadtools-ocr/id604393629?mt=12

Best For: OCR software that is lightweight and export to Word, TXT, LTD, PDF, RTF, SVG, XML, HTM, MOB and ePub.

LEADTOOLS is a company offering fast OCR SDK technology for developers across all platforms, rather than providing end-user applications, but its LEADTOOLS OCR Application in Mac AppStore gives a chance for users to try its OCR technology. It supports OCR PDF and image to 10 formats, but according to my tests, it does the best on OCR files to text, while there are improvements needs to be done on OCR accuracy. Anyway, it is quite convenient to extract texts from files in the result window, instead of saving in a txt file.

What We Like

  1. Offer a basic setting of viewing tools
  2. OCR PDF and image
  3. Export files as Word, TXT, LTD, PDF, RTF, SVG, XML, HTM, MOB and ePub
  4. Select OCR zone
  5. Extract text directly from result window

What We Don’t Like

  1. Program crashes sometimes
  2. Need improvements on OCR accuracy
  3. No batch OCR support
  4. Support only 5 languages

#11 Google Keep

google keep

OS Platform: Android, iOS, Web and Chrome

Our Rating: 3.5/5.0

Free Download Google Keep OCR Software: https://www.google.com/keep/

Best For: Free OCR software that is accurate.

OneNote alike, Google Keep is an application to take and manage notes online or on your mobile phone. Its built-in OCR feature can grab text directly from the image, then share to your Google contacts, or copy to Google Docs for further editing. It is not a piece of software exclusively designed to do OCR, you will benefit a lot when using it to create and manage your notes.

What We Like

  1. Accurate OCR
  2. Allow taking notes
  3. Grab text directly from image
  4. Share to other contacts
  5. Copy text to Google Docs

What We Don’t Like

  1. Export as plain text only, no formatting
  2. No batch OCR

Best Free Offline OCR Software Comparison

  Platform Rating Input Format Output Format
Cisdem PDF Converter OCR Windows and macOS 5.0/5.0 PDF, Image Word, PowerPoint, Excel, iWork, Images, PDF/A, EPUB, HTML, RTF, TXT, XOD, XPS
SimpleOCR Windows 4.0/5.0 Scan, PDF, Image Word, Text
Capture2Text Windows 4.0/5.0 Image Text, Speech
PDF OCR X Community Edition Windows and macOS 4.0/5.0 PDF, Image Text, PDF
FreeOCR Windows 3.8/5.0 Scan, PDF, Image Word, Text, RTF;
Free OCR to Word Windows 3.8/5.0 Scan, Image Word, Text
SuperGeek Free OCR Windows 3.8/5.0 Scan, Image Word, Text
OneNote macOS, Windows, iOS, Android 3.8/5.0 PDF, Image Text
Adobe Scan Mobile App Android and iOS 3.6/5.0 Scan, Image PDF, Text
LEADTOOLS OCR Application

macOS

3.5/5.0 PDF, Image Word, TXT, LTD, PDF, RTF, SVG, XML, HTM, MOB and ePub
Google Keep Android, iOS, Web and Chrome 3.5/5.0 Image Text

How We Pick The Best Free Offline OCR Software?

We spent 2 months researching this topic. At first, we have shortlisted 20 free OCR software but after the test we list the top 11 tools. This will make it convenient for you to choose the right solution.

  • Good OCR Results---There is no perfect OCR result, even from Adobe OCR. But 90% accuracy is acceptable, and it is OK to manually adjust the formatting if a free OCR tool can export as Text only. 
  • 100% Offline---Online free OCR tools take time to upload and process OCR on files, offline free OCR software offers faster and easier conversion, which greatly save your time.
  • 100% Free---Lots of OCR software developers claim their products are free, but only a free trial is provided with limited features, like limits on pages, file size, output format, etc. Here we talk about 100% real free offline ocr software only, they are full-featured.
  • Safe to Use---The software must be clean and safe to use, there won’t be malware included in the installation to do harm to our devices.

Free OCR Software VS. Paid OCR Software

Free OCR Software like Capture2Text, PDF OCR X Community Edition and  OneNote are pretty good, But after months of testing free OCR software, our team reached this consensus: paid OCR software are usually better on account of all the extra features and accuracy they provide. 

What’s more, paid OCR software also include better customer support, so you know you can get help on even complex condition files.

However, free OCR tools should suffice for those who are looking for a more economical way to convert scanned PDF or images into searchable and editable files. 

Why We Don’t Recommend Online free OCR Software

For free OCR Software, many people will also find multiple free online tools available, but e don’t really recommend online sites. Here’s what dangers this might bring:
They may sell user data. What better way to make money than making you the product and selling your data?
Multiple Ads. Online sites also need money, so free online OCR tools also comes with annoying ads.
Limit on File Numbers and Sizes. 

Tips to Improve OCR Accuracy

1. As a rule of thumb, make sure the scanned document is between 300 and 600 dpi for accuracy. If the font size is below 10pts then 400 dpi would be recommended.
2. When scanning, PDF, TIFF and PNG are recommended for uncompressed file formats. JPEGs will lose quality with each edit.
3. Make sure the source document is laid flat on the scanner. Skewed pages can lead to inaccurate OCR recognition.
4. For most of the free OCR tools text covering overly bright or dark graphics in the original document will not be recognized. If this is the problem, adjust the contrast or use a paid software instead. 

Conclusion

As I believe, all the best free offline OCR software that worth a try is now on our top list, they are 100% free and safe to use offline. One thing for sure, all these free OCR software has their individual disadvantages, and that’s the reason why there are still a lot of users finally pick a paid OCR software: Cisdem PDF Converter OCR to recognize their file, they want better user experience and more accurate OCR result. 

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Connie Wisley
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Connie has been writing for Mac productivity and utility apps since 2009. Each review and solution is based on her practical tests, she is aways energetic and trustworthy in this field.

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    Thanks for the clarification it is truly an amazing clarification, thanks for writing it.

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