How to Extract Text From a Picture Using OCR in Google Docs (or Drive) in Android

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Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where you need to make a digital copy of a paper document and save it on your computer. If you are a touch typist, you can easily write one or two small paragraphs quickly but what if the document extends to a couple of pages? It can be time consuming and, at the same time, annoying.

Of course, you can scan the document and then use a free online OCR tool to convert the picture to text but chances of finding a scanner nearby could well be bleak. Chances of having a smartphone near, may be an Android, are considerably higher and that’s enough to convert the document to digital format using OCR.

OCR  image

We will see how you can use your Android phone’s camera to shoot photos of document and then convert it into plain text using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology. (Image Credit: _Max-B)

This feature was there in Google Docs for Android and is now there in Google Drive too, which is what Google Docs became a part of recently. Let us see put this feature to use.

Extracting Text From Photo

Step 1: Download and install Google Drive App on your Android device (formerly Google Docs). Once the app is installed, launch it and press the menu button to select New option.

Google Drive OCR (1)

Step 2: You will be then asked for the type of New document  or Upload  that you would like to perform. Here, select Document from photo to open your phone’s default camera.

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Google Drive OCR (5)

Step 3: This may be a tricky part. You will now have to click the photo of the document on which you want to perform the OCR. For the best results, make sure you are on autofocus mode and that the image is sharp. Hold your hands steady and then shoot the photo.

Shooting image for OCR

Note: After processing the photo the app may prompt you that your photo may be blurred and would you like to take another photo. In my case no matter how careful I was, I always saw this warning. So you will have to trust your instinct, and if you think you took it well, press the continue button.

Google Drive OCR (3)Google Drive OCR (2)

Step 4: Finally, name the document and select the option that says convert file to Google Docs document. The photo will then be uploaded to Google Drive and processed at the same time. Once the upload is complete you can open the document on your phone or your computer to see the recognized text.

Conclusion

On an average, depending upon the clarity of the photo and the format of the text, the accuracy of the recognized text will be around 70% to 90%. You might have to edit the document manually at places, but that’s nothing when compared to writing the full document altogether.

Furthermore, the feature will not work on handwriting and artistic fonts and the best results are achieved when the document is in Times New Roman, Arial, Calibre or other such simple fonts.

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  • headles

    it seems not to work anymore..