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The 6 Best Android OCR Apps for Extracting Text From Images

6 Best Android OCR Apps

Do you need to digitize any printed text so you can maintain a soft copy of it? If so, these OCR apps for Android have got you covered.

Do you need to digitize any printed text to maintain a soft copy of it? After all, there are a lot of advantages to going paperless. If so, all you need is an optical character recognition—or OCR— app on your Android phone.

We’ve covered several online OCR tools in the past, but nothing really beats the convenience of being able to digitize documents right from your smartphone. But before diving into the best free OCR tools for Android, let’s have a look at how we tested these apps.

How We Tested These OCR Image to Text Apps

We scanned various excerpts from William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style. At first, we scanned excerpts with simple formatting. After that, we scanned extracts from the pages that had a little trickier formatting. Only a handful of apps support extracting text from handwritten text, so we also tested handwritten notes with cursive writing.

In addition, it was made sure that the scans were performed under well-lit ambient conditions.

So, let’s look at how some of the best free OCR tools for Android performed under these conditions.

1. Google Keep

Google Keep

The excellent note-taking app from Google packs in some neat tricks and has a lot of creative uses. It also has built-in support for OCR. In our testing, we found that Google Keep’s text extraction worked pretty consistently across both simple and complex text formatting. It also preserves the original text formatting to a great extent.

Instructions for text extraction:

  1. Add a new note and tap on the + icon.
  2. Here, you can select Take photo to scan a document from the camera or choose Choose image to import an image from your Gallery.
  3. Open the picture, tap on the three-dot overflow menu and select Grab image text.

It should extract the text within a few seconds. Perhaps the best thing is that the text note will automatically be synced across all your devices, so you can scan a document on your Android phone and edit it later on your computer.

Download: Google Keep (Free)

2. Text Scanner [OCR]

Text Scanner [OCR]

Text Scanner [OCR] came in a close second to Google Keep in our testing. The app claims to support over 50 languages, including Chinese, Japanese, French, and more. It even supports extracting text from handwritten text and the app interface features essential scanning functionalities like magnification and a brightness slider to capture text in the clearest way possible.

In our testing, it had no problem extracting text, and even the results from handwritten notes were pretty promising. It’s one of the few apps that actually supports extracting text from handwritten notes, so it’s worth a try.

Instructions for text extraction:

  1. Tap on the blue shutter button to capture and scan the document. Alternatively, you can also import an existing image by clicking on the Gallery icon.

The extracted text should now be displayed. From here, you can make edits to the text, copy it, or share it through third-party apps.

Download: Text Scanner [OCR] (Free, in-app purchases available)

3. Text Fairy

Text Fairy

Text Fairy is yet another decent image extraction tool for Android capable of recognizing text from over 50 languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, French, and more. It comes with support for a lot of Indian languages like Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, and Telugu. You will be asked to download the required languages on the app’s first run.

It scanned our test document without any errors but had trouble when recognizing text from a page that included a couple of images. It straight up mentions that it has some problems recognizing colorful letters and handwritten text.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that there are a lot of manual steps involved before scanning a document, making it unsuitable for batch scanning. It’s best to limit its use to scanning books and magazines with a simple layout.

Instructions for text extraction:

  1. Tap on the Camera icon to capture an image. Alternatively, tap on the Gallery icon to import a picture from the Gallery.
  2. Choose the image section you’d like to scan. Tap on OK to proceed.

If everything goes alright, the text should be extracted, and you can now edit or copy it anywhere you like.

Download: Text Fairy (Free, in-app purchases available)

4. Microsoft Lens

Microsoft Lens

Microsoft Lens is Microsoft’s take on bringing a portable scanning app to Android devices. Its headline feature is the ability to scan and digitize documents, but it also comes with a handy OCR option.

It’s included as a premium option, but you can get it for free by signing up for a free Microsoft account. Signing up also unlocks other features like 5GB of free OneDrive storage and the ability to save in multiple formats.

In our testing, Microsoft Lens came across as one of the best apps when it comes to recognizing text from an image. It seems to have no problem whatsoever in identifying even colorful fonts.

Also, it’s hands-down one of the best Android OCR apps for recognizing text from handwritten notes. It integrates tightly with Microsoft’s other products like OneNote and Office 365. If you swear by Microsoft’s ecosystem, it’s a no-brainer to use Microsoft Lens.

Instructions for text extraction:

  1. Open Microsoft Lens and switch to Actions.
  2. Now point the camera to the document you wish to scan. Press the Text button.
  3. Crop the image and tap Continue. Tap Copy to copy and paste the text anywhere you want. Or you can also Share the extracted text.

Download: Microsoft Lens (Free)

5. OCR Text Scanner

OCR Text Scanner

OCR Text Scanner features a simplified interface and supports over 55 languages, including English, French, Italian, Swedish, and more. In our testing, it seemed to work mostly fine on documents, although it missed a word or two in various places.

It cannot grab image text from handwritten notes. It’s also riddled with ads, so you’ll have to wait for about five seconds between each scan.

Instructions for text extraction:

  1. Tap the Camera icon to scan a document. To import a document from the gallery, tap on the Gallery button and then tap the Tick icon.
  2. If everything looks fine, tap the Tick icons in the next steps to get the extracted text.

It should display the extracted text that you can easily copy or share from here.

Download: OCR Text Scanner (Free, in-app purchases available)

6. Text Scanner

Text Scanner

Text Scanner has one main purpose and that is to convert images to text. The app has pretty decent capabilities when it comes to scanning a printed page. However, the results from scanning handwritten text are not so promising.

The free version of the app doesn’t offer offline conversion of images to text. Moreover, you’ll see an offer to get the premium ad-free version at each step of using the app.

Instructions for text extraction:

  1. Tap the Camera button at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Place your phone’s camera on the text and tap the Camera button. You can also choose an image from the gallery.
  3. Crop the image if you want and tap Scan to convert the image to editable text.

Download: Text Scanner (Free, in-app purchases available)

How Do You Extract Text?

Remember that no OCR tool is 100 percent reliable when it comes to extracting text. It’s always recommended that you edit and proofread your documents before saving them. Google Keep has worked pretty consistently for digitizing our documents, and Microsoft Lens has worked great for digitizing handwritten notes.

However, your mileage may vary depending on the text style of the document or its language, so it’s best to check out all the apps and see what works best for you.

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