There are times when we search for some information on the internet and we find it only in the scanned images format – scanned JPEG images of newspapers, magazines, books etc. And if we have to include that material into our own research article, we have to manually type it out – which is both time consuming and tiresome way to do these things. If you do not want to break your fingers typing the text from all these scanned images, then you can use the free Capture2Text application for Windows. It is an optical character recognition tool (OCR tool) that can capture a small portion of anything that is visible on your computer screen, convert it into text format and copy the text to your clipboard. It can understand many languages like English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Japanese.
The Capture2Text tool is completely portable. You can download it from its sourceForge website, extract the contents to a folder and run Capture2Text.exe from there. It places an icon in the system tray of Windows, right-clicking on which you can choose different options – like the OCR language, whether to show the clipboard popup box after successful OCR capture and so on.
In the Preferences window you can choose the hotkeys for capturing the screen and performing the OCR. There are options related to the OCR conversion, experimental speech recognition and the output settings as well. In general you have to press the Windows + Q to start and end the capture.
In order to use the Capture2Text tool to perform successful OCR, you have to move your mouse cursor to the top-left corner of the content that you want to capture. Then press the Windows + Q hotkey to start the capture. Now move your mouse cursor to the bottom-right corner of the content. As you select the screen for OCR, the Capture2Text tool starts the automatic OCR process and shows the converted text near the top of your computer screen. Now you can press the Windows + Q again to finish the capture.
The text resulting from the OCR process is sent to your Windows clipboard so that you can copy-paste it in any application like Microsoft Word, OpenOffice Writer or Notepad etc. If you have enabled to show the popup window, then it will show a small window containing the text that was created through the Capture2Text OCR tool.
The Capture2Text tool also has an experimental speech recognition feature which allows you to speak into your computer’s microphone and it will convert the spoken words into plain text. To start the speech recognition capture, you have to press the Windows + A hotkey and start speaking in your mic. After you stop speaking, it will copy the text into clipboard. If it is not 100% sure of what you have spoken, then it will show you a list of possibilities and you can choose one of them.
Conclusion: The Capture2Text tool is a free, portable and fast OCR and speech recognition tool for Windows. The OCR quality is very impressive and it fails only when the image quality is poor or the letters are very small. The speech recognition engine is also very good and as fast as Google’s voice recognition engine on Android devices.
You can download Capture2Text from http://capture2text.sourceforge.net/.