3 Tips for Making Your Digital Files Searchable (& Editable!)

Have you heard the term “OCR” yet? If not - you have now…and pretty soon it will be as common as a “PDF” or a “USB.” OCR refers to Optical Character Recognition, which is a technology that enables you to convert different types of documents (scanned paper documents, PDF files, or images captured by a digital camera) into editable and searchable data.

But why is this important? Suppose you wanted to digitize a magazine article or a printed contract. You could spend hours retyping it and then correcting misprints. Or, you could convert all the required materials into a digital format in several minutes using a scanner or digital camera and OCR technology. Whew, right?

My colleague Allie Rumpanos over at Fujitsu ScanSnap (the one I presented with at #NAPO2016 in Atlanta) has written a great article - with images! - of how to use OCR with your ScanSnap scanner. Take a look at her tips and insights below. She refers to the technology company ABBYY who makes FineReader, the OCR technology that is built into ScanSnap scanners.

How to Use OCR with Your ScanSnap Scanner

ABBYY FineReader for ScanSnap is a built-in OCR software application that “reads” printed text on scanned documents. Using the OCR feature allows you to either create searchable PDFs, or convert your scanned documents into editable Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files. Most people use OCR as an essential tool for searching specific words within a scanned document or updating spreadsheets and contracts. Here are a couple of tips on using OCR with your ScanSnap scanner.

Tip #1: Convert your digital documents into editable files.

You can use OCR to convert your documents into editable files by simply selecting one of the “ABBYY Scan to…” options from the QuickMenu. In case you were wondering what these three icons were for, now you know that they convert your paper documents into editable ones.

ABBYY Scan To Options in Windows for Scanning with a Fujitsu ScanSnap

Tip #2: Create searchable PDFs.

To create searchable PDFs, start by right-clicking on the ScanSnap icon in your system’s task tray and select “Scan Button Settings.” Once the settings window is open, click on the “File Option” tab. There you will see the options for turning on the OCR. You can choose to OCR the entire document, just the first page, or marked key words. There are also options for selecting an OCR language depending on the language in the document.

The Fujitsu ScanSnap File Options pane in Windows

Tip #3: Create an OCR Profile.

You can also set up an OCR scanning profile to make it easier to create searchable PDFs when you need them. To create an OCR Profile, start by right-clicking on the ScanSnap icon in your system’s task tray and select “Scan Button Settings.” Once the settings window is open, turn off the Quick Menu by deselecting the “Use Quick Menu” box. Next, click on the “Profile” drop-down menu and select “Add Profile” to create a new profile. Name your new profile accordingly; I’ll name mine OCR.

ScanSnap iX500 OCR Profile pane in Windows

Once you have a name for your profile, go through the settings options and select the settings for your new profile. You’ll want to start by selecting which application you want your searchable documents to be saved in. I want mine to be saved in a local folder on my computer, so I’ll select “Scan to Folder.”

ScanSnap iX500 Scan to Folder pane in Windows

Next, under the “Save” tab, click “Browse” to select the default folder where you want the documents to be saved. For this profile, I’ll keep the location as my desktop.

ScanSnap iX500 Save to Folder pane in Windows

Under the “File Option” tab, select your OCR settings. I’ll select “Convert to Searchable PDF” and “All pages.”

ScanSnap iX500 Save all Pages, Searchable PDF conversation pane in Windows

Now that you have your profile set up, you can turn back on your Quick Menu and easily switch between using the Quick Menu and your OCR scanning profile. Simply left-click on your ScanSnap icon in the task tray and select the OCR Profile. For more information on creating Profiles, check out this article.

Want to know more about going paperless? Check out 5 Reasons Going Paperless is Good for the Planet (and Your Business) and 5 Ways to Tame Your Digital Documents.

#paperless #scanning

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