Microsoft Office - Document Imaging Software and OCR

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Windows no longer supports optical character recognition by default

Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, can be reinstalled in Windows.
Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, can be reinstalled in Windows. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The following step-by-step exercise walks you through using Microsoft Office Document Imaging, a feature installed by default in Windows 2003 and earlier. However, Redmond removed the feature in Office 2010, and hasn't (we're up to version 2016) put it back yet. 

If, however, you want to use Office's free Document Imaging and dependent optical character recognition, or OCR, text processing, rather than purchase OmniPage or some other relatively expensive commercial OCR program, you can reinstall Microsoft Office Document Imaging using the instructions in the following Microsoft TechNet "How to Install Microsoft office document imaging" article.

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Open Microsoft Office Document Imaging

Microsoft Office Document Imaging software can convert the text in a scanned image to a Word document, and it's built right into Office, so you probably already own it. Here’s how to find and use it.

Click on Start, All Programs, Microsoft Office. You’ll find Document Imaging in that group of applications.

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Start the Scanner

Load the document you want to scan into your scanner and turn the machine on. Under File, choose Scan New Document.

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Choose the Preset

Choose the correct preset for the document you’re scanning.

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Choose Paper Source and Scan

The program’s default is to pull paper from the automated document feeder. If that’s not where you want it to come from, click on Scanner and uncheck that box. Then, click the Scan button to start the scan.

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Send Text to Word

Once it finishes scanning, click on Tools and select Send Text to Word. A window will open giving you the choice of keeping photos in the Word version.

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Edit the Document in Word

The document will open in Word. You’ll probably have some editing to do, but think of all the typing you saved!