The 5 Best Ocr Tools For Extracting Text From Images

I have written before about the benefits of a paperless office, the zen feeling of being able to walk into the room and not somersault headfirst over a stack of paper and break your neck. But when you have reams of paper, how do you get all of that printed text converted into something that a digital program will be able to recognize and index? Yes, that’s right, you use an OCR service or app.

Text extraction with OCR is a subject which we have covered endlessly, since MUO’s birth back in 2006. But the OCR apps in this area keep expanding, so here are 5 others you should look at, if you are looking to extract that text from a scanned document.

1. FreeOCR

The 5 Best OCR Tools for Extracting Text from Images freeocr

We start with software, entitled rather imaginatively, “FreeOCR”. It’s a Windows-only app, which works on all PC’s running XP and upwards (although if you are using XP, you will need to install an extra part).

FreeOCR works for TWAIN scanners, PDF files, and TIFF images, and outputs the text into a Microsoft Word file. To use this app, you will also need to download the Google Open Source Tesseract OCR engine.

2. FreeOCR to Word

The 5 Best OCR Tools for Extracting Text from Images Free OCR to Word

This is the one I liked the most as it accurately transcribed what I had given it. The company behind the app promises 99.8% accuracy, and the app also retains the original formatting. As the title implies, the text and formatting are transferred into an editable Word document, but text (.txt) files are also possible.

It recognizes all of the main image formats, as well as Photoshop files. It’s just a shame though that all of these great apps are Windows-only. Where’s the love for Mac and Linux owners?

3. gImageReader

The 5 Best OCR Tools for Extracting Text from Images gimagereader

This one takes us back again to Google’s Tesseract OCR engine, which acts as the engine room to this rather well designed graphical frontend. The reader was handy because it automatically detects the page layout. Or if it makes a slight boob of it, you can manually readjust the areas.

The text is placed to the right of the image / scanned document, so you can see if everything is being taken down as it should. It does basic editing of that text, as well as spell checking (if you downloaded the relevant dictionary).

4. Capture2Text

The 5 Best OCR Tools for Extracting Text from Images Capture2Text Screenshot

This OCR tool serves a double role. First of all, it is a screenshot tool which then takes the screenshot and converts it into the Windows clipboard. You can then copy and paste the text into anywhere you want.

Secondly, it has voice recognition technology which transcribes your words for you. The site says this is experimental so don’t expect perfect results at the moment. Those with dreamy sultry accents like mine may experience difficulties.

5. VueScan

The 5 Best OCR Tools for Extracting Text from Images lg vuescan book

And you thought we would end without some Mac love, didn’t you? Well fear not, OSX’ers! If you need to do any OCR then here is VueScan to the rescue. It links to your scanner, and one of the advantages (the site actually lists it as a con) is that it is a very lightweight basic program. No bloat, but not too many features either. But it’s easy to install, easy to use, and it does its job, which is the main thing.

So which OCR programs float your boat? Are you a Google Drive OCR user perhaps? Or a user of another we haven’t covered here ? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit: Paperless sign (Shutterstock)

Beat Procrastination This Time: 5 Online Courses That Come To Your Aid

I have the ultimate cure for procrastination: enjoy your work.

Seriously. When you get into a flow time disappears and the mind doesn’t even bother to put off something for tomorrow. But finding nirvana in your work is as hard as keeping procrastination under check. You can argue that procrastination has benefits, but the personal and social cost of habitual loafing cannot be ignored. Do a simple cost-benefit analysis of any investment you have put off.

Procrastination is public enemy number one. So, how do we put the bridle on it? Let’s throw education at it if nothing else is working. And these five Udemy courses on procrastination for some tips and techniques you might have overlooked.

For a limited time, Udemy is offering $10 courses across the site. No promo code required! All but one of the classes below is eligible, so you can save up to 95% off the normal price.

1. Powerful Goal Setting: Step by Step Blueprint

Discover: How to have a clear vision, set goals and create the right plan of action.

Procrastination -- Powerful Goal Setting

Procrastination and its opposite twin called productivity are both children of our mindset. We procrastinate when the task before is difficult. Or we think it is worth more effort than we have the motivation for now. Our monkey mind takes the path of least resistance.

But what if it had a well-established set of rules? What if the mind knew where to go and how to go there? And the first step of the journey? In brief, what if you had your own GPS to guide you through. The right goal will power your motivation.

Big hairy goals need a blueprint. Find your purpose, use that to define a vision, write down your short-term and long-term goals. The 4.5 hours are also about changing your mindset — the one crucial fuel behind any smart goal-setting system. But yes, you must stop procrastinating.

2. Time Management Secrets for Busy People

Discover: How to find time when you think you don’t have enough time.

Procrastination -- Time Management Secrets

The best laid plans will fail if you don’t respect the clock. The failure to prioritize your goals or take the right decisions on your work leads to a domino effect. The chain reaction will bring a sense of overwhelm and a loss of motivation.

In short, time management is the secret to enjoying the things that matter most in your life.

The course will consume just three hours of your time. But it’s choc-a-bloc with helpful methods like the “One Hat Technique” that shows how to focus on one thing at a time. This could be the alternative to your multitasking habit, and the surefire cure for distraction.

As a writer (and a creative), I found the lecture on avoiding perfectionism to be an eye-opener. A little less self-criticism helped me get unstuck and move forward.

3. Learn Optimal Sleep to Improve Your Health, Energy, and Mind

Discover: How to get quality sleep so you wake up with more energy.

Procrastination -- Optimal Sleep

“Bedtime procrastination” is a term for a sleep scientist and a bad habit in our lives. A late-night Netflix binge or the magnetic power of a digital device gets to us. The next day, it turns a good portion of the world into groggy zombies. The linked article also cites lack of restful sleep as a public-health concern.

From your own experience, you know that procrastination is a common cause and an outcome of bad sleep habits. The good news is that you can change your sleep patterns.

Understand your sleep cycles to begin with. Go deeper by looking at how body temperature, light exposure, and consumption play a role in the quality of sleep. And of course, the food and beverages we put into our body throughout the day.

Does all this sound a bit too much study? Scott Britton breaks it down into short lessons that don’t take more than 3–4 minutes. Five hours of instructions isn’t a bad trade-off for optimizing a habit that takes up seven hours of our day.

4. Mindfulness Meditation: A 21-Day Guided Programme

Discover: The benefits of a mindfulness meditative practice.

Procrastination -- Mindfulness Meditation

Have you ever pondered the impulse that turns us into procrastinators? The next time you feel like pausing work and jumping on Facebook, stop for a few seconds. Observe the urge like a spectator. Those few seconds are the proof that automatic impulses prod us into procrastinating.

Mindfulness makes you more aware of what you’re doing. And the practice of meditative mindfulness is no longer seen as religious mumbo-jumbo. New age psychology has embraced it whole-heartedly for its direct benefits.

It will take you years to become a master. A 21-day guided program with animations and visuals is a primer with immediate benefits. For instance, it just might help you sleep better. Mindfulness teaches us to be aware of our inner selves and the environment through our breaths.

The course has broken down the discipline into objectives for each week. Jeremy Woodall’s bio reads ex-marine commando, clinical hypnotherapist, counselor, NLP master practitioner and physical training Instructor.

5. The Neuroscience of Self-Compassion

Discover: How to calm your critical inner voice with tenderness.

Procrastination -- Self-Compassion

Be more kind to yourself and leap over the obstacles holding you back. Procrastination is closely linked to stress and other negative aftermaths like low self-esteem. But can self-compassion somehow fit the pieces of the puzzle together?

A 2014 study by Fuschia M. Sirois of Bishop’s University in Canada found the telltale signs. The study revealed that our struggles with procrastination are never-ending. Dr. Sirois found that people prone to procrastination had lower levels of self-compassion and higher levels of stress:

Negative self-judgments and feeling isolated by one’s procrastinating can be a stressful experience.

Kelly McGonigal’s TED Talk (“How to Make Stress Your Friend”) is one of the 20 Most Viewed TED talks of all time with 10 million views. In this Udemy course, she melds medicine, neuroscience, and psychology with compassion and mindfulness practices. The lessons take on negativity, the power of attention, and emotions to help you move towards peace and happiness.

A few of the exercises are devoted to mindfulness, so it could be a good complement to the above course too.

What Are You Doing About Your Procrastination?

All of us get stuck. Every day.

Each day this bane of productivity draws a cost from us. What matters is what we do about it. Maybe, you have already started questions of yourself?

If you haven’t, then try to ask and answer: “Why do I procrastinate?”.

That could be the smallest step forward. And then, reveal some of the answers to us down below in the comments. Hope these Udemy classes also help with the answers.

Remember, every paid course on Udemy comes with:

  • Lifetime access.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • Certificate of completion.

What are of your life has been affected by procrastination? Do you have any ideas on how to deal with it? Let’s help each other out with this epidemic?

Image Credit: Constantin Stanciu via Shutterstock

Is Kaspersky Still Reliable Antivirus Software?

Security news is currently awash with a series of accusations against one of the world’s leading antivirus developers, Kaspersky Lab. The claims come on the back of months of speculation regarding Russian intent in foreign political events. This article isn’t delving into those accusations.

This article is focusing on the allegations leveled at Kaspersky Lab, and whether it is safe to use their security products.

Alleged Spying

The Wall Street Journal reports that Kaspersky Lab is merely a tool of the Russian security services and is undermining U.S. government agencies by stealing data. Hackers targeted a specific contractor after identifying critical files scanned on his computer by a Kaspersky antivirus product. The stolen files contain details of how the U.S. penetrates foreign computer networks and defends against cyber attacks — after the contractor removed the highly classified files from the NSA and stored them on his computer (another massive security failing).

Kaspersky Lab

Israeli spies found the stolen material on the Kaspersky Lab network in 2015. The issue came to light back in October. Since then, the U.S. and U.K. governments have both issued warnings about the security risks of using Russian antivirus software. Both governments specifically reference Kaspersky but have expanded their warning to all cybersecurity products with a Russian developer.

The Department of Homeland Security issued the following statement:

“The department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks.

The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security.”

How Did Kaspersky Respond?

Well, understandably, Kaspersky Lab founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky strongly refuted the accusations, stating that “Kaspersky Lab doesn’t have inappropriate ties with any government, which is why no credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization to back up the false allegations made against the company.” The “credible evidence” aspect of the company declaration is important.

While the US and UK governments have quickly condemned Kaspersky, there is little in the way of factual evidence. Kaspersky further pointed out that over 85 percent of their income comes from overseas markets. Working with individual governments against others would be severely detrimental to their bottom line. Evidence or not, it is being eroded.

Audit the Software

In fact, in the interest of protecting the Kaspersky name and global reputation, Eugene Kaspersky has repeatedly offered to allow independent auditors review the antivirus and other software source code. The Russian cybersecurity firm believes they “need to reestablish trust in relationships between global companies, governments, and citizens” before they can clear their name.

The nature of antivirus software means that any suite has near total control over its host machine. Antivirus software must scan deep into the root of the device to uncover hidden malware and other nasties. Uncovering extremely well-hidden malware is what gave Kaspersky its name, after all. Kaspersky, however, realizes that “trust is not a given” and that there is a path to climb, regardless of their involvement.

The Cybersecurity Experts Weigh In

Cybersecurity experts are somewhat split over the contentious issue of Kaspersky antivirus delivering details of highly classified NSA files.

It boils down to two hypotheticals:

  1. Kaspersky did knowingly alert Russian authorities or hackers as to the presence of highly classified yet insecure NSA documents on a contractors’ personal computer.
  2. Kaspersky knew the highly classified files were there because the antivirus scan returned positive with some variety of NSA hacking tool, hence their appearance in the Kaspersky network.

Many cybersecurity experts believe the second scenario is more likely. Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at John Hopkins University, offered another stance: “Consensus on infosec Twitter is that Kaspersky may not have colluded with [the Russian government]; just maybe their product may be horrendously compromised.”

However, other security experts chimed in with their support for the second scenario. Furthermore, while Kaspersky doesn’t directly work with individual governments, they almost certainly analyze their heuristic scans. And if those scans turn up highly classified NSA hacking tools, who is to say a hacker (or hackers) already within the Kaspersky network were not instantly made aware.

After all, Israeli spies broke the news to the NSA regarding their compromised files. We don’t know who else has broken into the network.

In the Clear

Kaspersky is one of the best antivirus products on the market. Kaspersky Lab has seen stratospheric rise under the stewardship of Eugene Kaspersky, all while under notoriously restrictive Russian governments. Eugene Kaspersky is himself a former KGB signals-intelligence software engineer. His critics have long accused him of using Kaspersky as a Russian intelligence tool. Kaspersky freely admits that they work with the FSB when called upon — it would be against company interests not to.

Conversely, the anti-Russian sentiment is at a recent high. Accusations of high level Russian military experts switching to civilian cybersecurity are just as easily leveled at American, British, and European companies. Similarly, U.S.-developed Norton Antivirus frequently works closely with the FBI. Should the U.S. public mistrust Norton for assisting their government?

Okay, Just Tell Me: Can I Use Kaspersky or Not?

Well, how patriotic are you? I’m kidding.

But a clear line the in the sand has been drawn. Certain U.S. government agencies have long suggested their employees and contractors stop using Russian-made antivirus products. But the addition of the U.K. government and the withdrawal of Barclays free 12-month Kaspersky free trial offer has raised more than a few eyebrows.

Of course, what businesses do doesn’t necessarily apply to the public. So, on the one hand, we have Ciaran Martin, director of the UK National Cyber Security Centre advising government departments against using Russian-developed cybersecurity products. On the other hand, we have Ian Levy, the NCSC’s technical director, confirming that there is “no compelling case at present to extend that advice to [the] wider public sector, more general enterprises, or individuals.”

Kaspersky cybersecurity products are clear for use if you’re not a government agency, working for the NSA or another U.S. government department, or a government contractor. In fact, Kaspersky cybersecurity products frequently receive extremely positive feedback. They’re well known for removing stubborn malware, as well as offering a wide range of ransomware and rootkit removal tools.

The first phase of Kaspersky’s transparency initiative will commence in the first quarter of 2018. You can be sure that we’ll be there when it happens!

Do you now mistrust Kaspersky cybersecurity products? Have you always? Or as a private citizen, does it simply not matter?

Huge Deals On Oneplus 2, Lg G5, And More Unlocked Phones [us]

Right now, Amazon has a bunch of different unlocked smartphones on sale. Whether you’re looking for a high-end device like the LG G5, or something a little more budget-friendly like the Posh Mobile Kick Pro, there’s a deal for you.

Smartphone Deals

There are nine different smartphones on sale right now, and they’re all unlocked, so they’ll work with your carrier or on a prepaid network. Check out all the phones for sale on this page right here, and have a peek at a few of the best deals below!

LG G5 Unlocked Phone ($479, $120 Off) [UK]

This is a high-end phone that’ll handle everything you throw at it. If you’re looking for a phone with a big, beautiful screen and lots of power, this is the one for you. With a $120 discount, you can’t go wrong.

  • 32GB of internal storage
  • 16MP/1.9 aperture camera + a second 135 degrees wide-angle 8MP sensor
  • Qualcomm quick charge 3.0 and USB Type-C
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 5.3-inch IPS Quantum QHD Display

POSH MOBILE KICK PRO ($71.99, $18 Off)

If you just need a basic, budget-friendly phone, this one will work for you.

  • 5-inch screen
  • 8GB internal storage
  • 1GB of RAM powered by the MediaTek MT6735P LTE clip
  • 8.0 Megapixels rear camera

ASUS ZenFone 2 ($199, $100 Off) [UK]

The ZenFone is quite solid, and at $100 off, it’s a good deal. It has many of the same features and specs as more expensive models, so it’ll handle all the apps and games you can throw at it.

  • 64GB internal storage
  • 5.5-inch IPS full HD display
  • 13MP rear camera
  • 64-bit Intel 2.3GHz Quad Core processor
  • 4GB RAM

OnePlus 2 ($239.99, $60 Off) [UK]

The OnePlus 2 is one of the more respected smartphones on the market, and with good reason. It has all the goodies and features you could ever want (and then some), and it’s easy on the eyes!

  • 13MP primary camera with f/2.0 Aperture
  • IPS 5.5 inches Corning Gorilla Glass 3 IPS LCD (
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 (64 bit with 1.8GHz Octa-core SoC) chip
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB internal storage

MiLocks Electronic Keyless Entry Deadbolt ($49.99, 29% Off) [UK]

For $50, this deadbolt will make it so you don’t need to dig into your pocket to get your keys anymore. You can store up to six different passcodes in it, so each member of the family can have their own code to get in the house.

Buy 5 Echo Dots, Get 1 Free w/code DOT6PACK ($50 Each) [UK]

To celebrate the launch of the Echo Dot, Amazon is giving some away for free. Well, they’re free if you buy a bunch. If you buy five, you’ll get one free with the code DOT6PACK, and if you buy 10, you’ll get two free with the code DOT12PACK.

How To Set Multiple Stops On Your Route In Google Maps

One of my favorite features of Waze (aside from the newly-added ability to do planned drives), is the ability to add multiple stops along your route. Finally, this feature is available in Google Maps (Google added it to Android in late June), and now it’s available on iOS as well.

Using the feature is actually quite easy, and it really makes getting around in an unknown city much easier. Here’s what you need to know!

Click the blue button on the bottom of the screen to navigate just like you would normally. Enter where you want to go, then tap the corner menu and Add Stop. An additional box will open where you can enter an additional place. Tap on that and then enter the other place you’d like to go.

When you’re done adding stops (you can add multiple), just tap Go and get on the road!


One thing I really like about Google Maps’ way of doing stops is the ability to drag the order of locations, so if you planned on going to the bank, then out to lunch, then to the grocery, store but you need to go to lunch first, you can just drag the restaurant up a slot.

If you’re an iOS user, this feature may not be available for you just yet, as it’s rolling out gradually.

Image Credit: Roman Pyshchyk via ShutterStock

Researchers Probe Viability Of Amino Acids In Alien Environments

Astrobiologists are looking at amino acids and trying to figure out if these building blocks of life can be replicated on other planets.

A team in Indiana is about to look at amino acids that have been extracted from meteorites, as well as those that were created in origin-of-life experiments that happened as long ago as the 1950s. The goal is to better identify what characteristics would make extraterrestrial life possible. The challenge, however, is the proteins an organism uses on Earth wouldn't necessarily be used in more exotic locations.

"Our main goal with this research is to see if there are structural characteristics of some amino acids that lead to a higher stability in extraterrestrial conditions, and then to see what those characteristics might be," said Claire Mammoser, an undergraduate research assistant at Valparaiso University in Indiana who is working on the project. 

"Finding trends in amino acid stability would give us an idea of what sort of amino acids may have survived in outer space long enough to create life," Mammoser added.

Her team has already analyzed 15 amino acids, some of which are found in life on Earth, and some that are not associated with life at all. They subject vials of the amino acids to extreme temperatures, radiation, acidity, and other items that simulate other environments in the solar system. Examples include Mars, which has a thin atmosphere and moderately high radiation, or Enceladus, a moon of Saturn that has no atmosphere and is famous for sprouting water geysers.

RELATED: How Would NASA Search for Extraterrestrial Life on Enceladus?

The team then determines how well the amino acid stays together or to what extent it breaks down. Over time, they are looking to find patterns for the stability of amino acids with several characteristics, such as the ability to bind with water — an essential function of life.

"This work is exciting for us because there is not a lot of previous work in this area," said Mammoser.

"Often," she added, "we are privileged to work on extensions of existing areas of research which have been pioneered by great minds in the field, but this project has been different in that we have done a lot of the initial development ourselves. This is both a challenge and extremely exciting, because there is a sense that we are not just gathering data, but we are also making decisions about the best way to measure amino acid stability in our lab every day."

Mammoser will present her results at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting, which is being held this week in Chicago.

Originally published on Seeker.