Ever since smartphone manufacturers added high-resolution cameras to their products, phones have become highly convenient for scanning documents on the go. Optical character recognition (OCR) was immediately achievable, and apps soon became available for converting the content of those document images to text immediately.
The best portable OCR scanner applications accurately scan a document and produce a fully formatted text document that is ready to be exported for sharing, storage or for use in any word processing or page creation software you choose to employ. The following apps are the top five.
Microsoft Office Lens
Download Office Lens, launch it and give it permission to access your phone camera. There are several modes to choose from:
- Whiteboard – cuts glare and shadows.
- Document– precisely captures images.
- Photo – saves as an image file that can uploaded to OneDrive or sent or exported to your computer for storage.
- Business Card – extracts contact information to save in your address book.
- Convert – save image to Word (.docx), PowerPoint (.pptx), or PDF (.pdf) files and automatically save to OneDrive.
Office Lens frames the document to get an accurate alignment, and you can shoot the picture. There’s a cropping tool to enable you to enhance the image. Once done, you will be provided a choice of options to either export to Word, Powerpoint, Outlook or PDF, or save as an image. Tap ‘Word‘ to use Office Lens as a portable OCR scanner, and Office Lens will process the image to create a DOCX file to be edited in Word which will launch for you to edit.
Microsoft Office Lens is closely tied to Office 365 for editing options and access to Microsoft programs. It requires Android 4.4 and up and a number of permissions.
A convenient portable PDF and OCR scanner, Adobe Scan recognizes text automatically and is capable of creating PDF files from receipts, business cards, whiteboards or any picture or document. You can, in fact, scan just about anything with Adobe Scan.
Adobe Sensei, the Adobe’s artificial intelligence/machine learning platform powers the app to fully enhance the image – borders are automatically detected, content is enhanced, and shadows are removed. Most importantly, text is recognized, and your picture is transformed into a high-quality PDF file. Printed text becomes digital text and can then be searched, copied or annotated in Acrobat Reader DC or Acrobat DC. Or, it can be opened in Acrobat Reader for highlighting and annotating.
There is also an Adobe Sign function for automatically signing and sending documents from any device, and documents can all be sent to the Adobe Document Cloud for ongoing access and sharing.
Android 5.0 and higher is required and permissions for camera and internet.
Text Scanner [OCR]
Text Scanner [OCR] has its own camera application, but other camera apps can be used to acquire images. It has the capability to identify the text area as it scans and even recognizes URLs and phone numbers in the image it’s scanning. Claiming to be the best portable OCR scanner, it is amazingly fast and produces OCR documents of the highest quality and even recognizes handwriting.
Recognizing text makes it possible for the app to create documents which provide you with text to facilitate:
- URL access
- Telephone calls
- Copy to clipboard
- Send e-mail
- Save to cloud storage or social media
Text Scanner [OCR] requires Android 4.0 and up and several permissions.
Fast CamScanner is purpose-built for image to text scanning and has an entire range of scanning options. In addition to its chief purpose – optical character recognition, it instantly scans and copies Barcodes and Quick Response codes (QR code). And it keeps a history of your scanning activity. The OCR features enable you to choose the language being scanned, and access Google Translate, copy and share the output, use text-to-speech on the output, and export the scanned output to PDF.
Fast Cam Scanner requires Android 4.0.3 and up and camera and storage permissions.
With the capability to scan documents ranging from business cards to multiple page books or booklets, Fast Scanner provides text for you to print, email or export to PDF for storage locally, or for uploading to cloud storage. You can create multiple page PDF or JPEG files.
Several editing options are available to ensure as correct a read of the image as is technically possible. Sending the scanned output is done right in the app simply by tapping ‘Send‘ and selecting a storage app to share the document. Uploaded to Dropbox, Google Drive or whichever cloud storage app you choose, the completed document can be opened or printed from the cloud by your correspondents.
Fast Scanner, “the little portable scanner that scans everything“, is available for phones and tablets using Android 4.0.3 and up.