Like scanners, they’re painful to setup and use, and optical character recognition is the promise that never delivered itself, right? If you have a need to scan documents to your Mac using OCR, here’s the app to try.
Scan, OCR, Text-to-Speech, And iCloud
As a teacher, my wife’s evenings are devoted to class curriculum and grading tests or reading the latest report from a class of kids who would prefer to do something else.
Thankfully, her school has gone all digital so much of her extracurricular evening activities are online on the Mac.
Still, there are times when documents made of trees need to be scanned and distributed to students. That means a Mac, a scanner, and a decent app to scan and convert document text into digital text.
Our latest tool is Prizmo, a Mac app which combines scanning, optical character recognition, and speech into the easiest to use package ever.
Think of Prizmo as OCR for the 21st century. Drag and drop a document and let the app do all the work.
Prizmo is smart enough to work with scanned documents and photos of documents (including those take with iPhone or iPad or a digital camera).
The app can scan receipts, reports, advertisements and brochures, invoices, and nearly anything that fits on your scanner. Even if the image is distorted, Prizmo has tools to account for page distortion to deliver a more accurate OCR rendering.
Options are built-in to handle business cards, multiple pages of text, as well as images which contain text. Snap text from a Mac or PCs screen, and Prizmo can pull out the text.
The app detects three types of regions on a page. Text, numbers, and images. It detects frames and handles perspective correction to compensate for scanned or photographed images’ point of view.
Prizmo’s OCR component works with over 40 languages (some I didn’t know were still used languages). The OCR tools let you add, delete, merge, and reorder document regions, and it updates automatically.
The curvature correction tool works great on books and magazines where it’s not possible to scan a perfectly flat image. A pop up tool actually increases the document’s resolution so OCR can work on pages which couldn’t be scanned in the past.
Prizmo saves documents and shares documents, too. Files can be output as PNG, JPG, TIFF, and text files, and shared from Mac-to-Mac using iCloud (but these documents must be native Prizmo docs).
Exporting documents is easy, too, and Prizmo sends files to Evernote, Box, Dropbox, WebDAV and Google drive.
Wait. There’s more. Used online, Prizmo offers document translations in nearly two dozen languages. And it plays well with Apple’s built-in text-to-speech so scanned texts can be read aloud.
This is not an OCR app from 1999. This is one that’s worthy of the Mac, integrates well with Apple technologies, and online sharing and exporting. And, Prizmo has input options never before presented to Mac users. Grab documents from iPhone, iPad, DSLR cameras, camera tethering, Wi-Fi scanners, connected scanners, and quick screen snapshots.
The user interface, though comprehensive, is mostly self explanatory. Documents are visible in the left sidebar, and options row the Toolbar at the bottom. Using an OCR app in the past has been mostly trial and error and more of the latter. Prizmo is the first we’ve actually enjoyed using.
The only real difficulty we’ve encountered while using Prizmo is the need to have a halfway decent document to start. The enlargement function works, but fuzzy enlarged is merely larger fuzzy.