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How can I extract text from images?

I am not talking about scanned files, but garden variety images, such as when you take a high-def picture of a blackboard at class, and it is nicely handwritten; or when you photograph a page from a recipe book and want the recipe in text format.

Any free and open software for that?

I tried tesseract, and the results were awful.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 14 down vote accepted

The act of extracting text from images is called OCR and Ubuntu has a wiki page dedicated to OCR. From that page:

Available OCR tools

The Ubuntu Universe repositories contain the following OCR tools:

  1. gocr - A command line OCR
  2. fuzzyocr - spamassassin plugin to check image attachments
  3. libhocr0 - Hebrew OCR
  4. ocrad - Optical Character Recognition program
  5. ocrfeeder - Document layout analysis and optical character recognition system
  6. ocropus - document analysis and OCR system
  7. tesseract-ocr

The Ubuntu multiverse respositories also contain:

  1. cuneiform - multi-language OCR system

Some packages are outdated, but unofficial fresh ones can be found in Alex_P PPA (PPA adding code: ppa:alex-p/notesalexp). If you never used a PPA check how to add software from a PPA.

edit: As shown in comment Clara OCR exists too but it got stuk at Hardy and their website has 2009 as last updated.

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Do you have experience using any of those for the examples I described? I became a bit sceptical to regular ocr tools for them. Number 7 on the list is the one I tried and was plainly terrible. –  Strapakowsky Aug 31 '11 at 9:11
If I recall, I tried gocr also, with equivalent terrible results. If you tried with success any of those, what syntax did you use? Thanks. –  Strapakowsky Aug 31 '11 at 9:13
None whatsoever! I never bothered with OCR :D Freshmeat search shows Clara OCR and tesseract-ocr ;) (… ) –  Rinzwind Aug 31 '11 at 11:16
Am I wrong if I say that successful use of OCR requires knowledge of the process and a careful setup to fit the particular image to be scanned? Thus, if I'm right, bad results might be due to the user and not the software. –  N.N. Aug 31 '11 at 11:37
OCR works best if you know how the image is created and you are very well versed in using the software that you use (the latter being the reason I never got around to using it). –  Rinzwind Aug 31 '11 at 11:43

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