If you haven’t used optical character recognition (OCR) apps in a long time, then Abbyy FineReader Express for Mac will come as a surprise. It’s a lot more elegant than other OCR applications—FineReader Express works, and works well, with very little configuration or user tweaking.
FineReader Express scans and parses text from existing image files from a camera or documents read from a flatbed scanner. It’s smart enough to render the results as plain text, HTML or PDF, but the most impressive feature is its ability to convert to spreadsheet format.
A friendly dialog box pops up to help you make your choice the moment you launch the app. First, your scanner needs to be fully TWAIN compliant. We then tried various tasks. At 600 dpi, results were very accurate, though processing a page of text took a few minutes. We took it down a couple of notches to 150 dpi and the results were still good but much faster.
The PDF setting is interesting. Although the result appears like a straightforward image scan, the conversion embeds searchable text in the document, so you get the best of both worlds. It’s ideal for scanning books or magazine articles.
On to image files. We converted a 300 dpi, TIFF to HTML in a matter seconds. There were just a handful of easily rectified errors. This left us confident enough to try the ultimate test, a spreadsheet from a scanned JPEG image. FineReader coped admirably. We spotted a single glitch, but the cells, columns and rows were all intact and contained the correct data.
Macworld buying advice
Abbyy FineReader Express for Mac is fast and accurate. If you have a lot of data to input, printed documents or spreadsheets, FineReadferExpress will significantly decrease your workload.