## 4. PDFPen

PDFPen is a little different than Prizmo as it’s not just an OCR tool. It’s an all-in-one tool designed to fill in, edit and alter PDFs. One of its features is that it can detect scanned documents and perform OCR in one step.

### Step 1

Launch PDFPen and it will automatically prompt you to select a PDF to open. Select a scanned document and click Open.

### Step 2

Once PDFPen opens the document and detects it was scanned (rather than downloaded or computer generated), it will prompt if you’d like to analyse it and digitise the text. You have the option of just running the OCR tool on the current page or the entire document.

Specify the language required and select the relevant button - in this case I just selected OCR Document.

### Step 3

Once it’s finished, save the PDF. Unlike Doxie or Prizmo, you don’t create another copy immediately. PDFPen modifies existing PDF files so you can simply save the changes, eliminating the inconvenience of managing an additional file.

## 5. Evernote

Evernote is an extremely popular note-syncing service that acts more of a hybrid between a scrapbook and a notebook. Think of it as having a filing cabinet full of pieces of information that’s always available and always easy to search.

We’ve covered Evernote extensively before here on Mactuts+ and I encourage anyone who uses Evernote (or is interested in using it more) to read our article Taming the Elephant: Awesome Evernote Tips and Tricks to learn more about it.

One feature of Evernote that is often overlooked and never really shown to the user is their automatic OCR service. Yep, any image you add to Evernote is scanned for text and added to your note. It’s performed server-side so adding a document to Evernote isn’t instantly converted. Due to the number of Evernote users, it’s also not instant. To prevent server problems, all documents requiring OCR are queued. There’s no way to know when it will be scanned but it’s usually within 24–48 hours. If you’re a premium member, it’s quicker.

### Step 1

To have a document scanned, simply drag it and add it to a new or existing note, making sure to sync Evernote as soon as you’ve done it. That’s all there is to it.

### Step 2

Eventually, Evernote will scan the document and perform OCR. Once that happens, the document will then be updated and sync back to Evernote on your device. It took about ten minutes for Evernote to OCR the document I added (I’m an Evernote Premium subscriber so times will vary).

The OCR is usually very accurate but there is no control over how the OCR works. It’s done automatically with no user input or settings.

### Step 3

You can then search for text and, as you can see, the text highlights as you search. After looking through the note, it appears to have been 100% accurate.

### Step 4 (Optional)

If you’d like to keep a searchable PDF version outside of Evernote, you can right-click and select Save Searchable PDF As…

It’s not ideal as Evernote wraps every word with a green box so printing it may not be such a good idea, but it works.

Whilst its features are quite basic, using Evernote as a central hub for your paperless office is becoming even more popular so if you’re wanting to do the same then you could cut out any OCR process and just drop scans directly into Evernote. It’ll take care of the OCR for you and since most items are going to be receipts and correspondence then you’ll likely have almost no problem with Evernote’s OCR service.

Evernote is free, with premium accounts at $5 per month or$35 per year.

## Wrapping Up

There’s a number of ways you can digitise those scanned documents to make them text-searchable and the costs of using an OCR tool has dropped dramatically. Gone are the days where you’re stuck to whatever app your scanner came with, you’re now free to use pretty much any OCR app you’d like.

If you’re going to find yourself using not only OCR tools but want a way of manipulating PDFs then PDFPen is the best choice. For anyone just wanting a way to OCR then I’d recommend Prizmo. Even if you have a Doxie, Prizmo gives you more control over how the OCR process works.

For anyone wanting to very occasionally OCR something then getting a free Evernote account is the most economical option.

Have you tried to go paperless? Do you bother with OCR or is everything searchable in your digital office? We’d love to hear from you so, as always, discuss the topic further in the comments.