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Using OCR softwares to implement a paperless office

Posted on 2012-04-11
Last Modified: 2016-09-22

Suppose someone is shopping for office stationery and they take a photograph of the receipt which is then uploaded to a cloud (dropbox?, shoebox?) where the receipt is processed through an OCR software (omnipage pro, adobe acrobat x?) so that the content of the photographed or scanned receipt is machine readable and thus searchable, could you please advise on which softwares to use to implement this process and how to do it?

Question by:PCknots
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Assisted Solution

dbrunton earned 125 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 37836693
Probably Paperport http://www.paperport.com/scan/

Note that you may not get 100% totally searchable documents.

Author Comment

ID: 37852132
Is it able to make the images machine readable? What about photographs of receipts?
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Assisted Solution

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 375 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 37852305
The title of your question asks about implementing a paperless office, a very broad topic, but the body of it has a specific question about taking a photo of a receipt when shopping. These are very different questions. I have some thoughts on both, but before sending them along, please let me know which question you would like answered.

Btw, the answers to the questions in your last post are: (1) Yes, the two most recent versions of PaperPort (12 and 14 - there was no 13) have built-in OCR and can create a PDF Searchable Image file, which has both the image and a layer of (machine readable) text created by its OCR, which can be searched and copy/pasted. (2) Yes, it can handle photographs of receipts. It has a "Save As" function that can operate on a JPG (or almost any standard image format) and create a PDF Searchable Image file, as described in (1) above. You may learn more about PaperPort here:

One other thing. Your question mentions Dropbox, ShoeBox, OmniPage Pro, and Adobe Acrobat X. Do you have these products? When you ask the question of how to implement the process, are you asking how to do it with these four products or are these just examples, and you're open to using other products? Regards, Joe
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Author Comment

ID: 37857523
Thanks Joe, The other softwares mentioned in my question means that I am open to using other softwares as well...What do you think would be the most efficient way to go about it?
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Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 37860920
For implementing a paperless office or for taking a photo of a receipt when shopping and storing/processing it?

Author Comment

ID: 37865871
The activity of taking a photo of a receipt when shopping and storing/processing it is being considered a part of paperless. My question here pertains to  taking a photo of a receipt when shopping and storing/processing it.
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Expert Comment

ID: 38632701
I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

The question has either no comments or not enough useful information to be called an "answer".
LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 38632703
I apologize for missing the author's last post...my bad. Please keep this open and I'll respond today. Thanks, Joe
LVL 53

Assisted Solution

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 375 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 38634732
@PCknots, sorry I missed your last response when you posted it.

Since you've clarified that this particular question is just about taking a photo of a receipt when shopping and storing/processing it (not the much bigger question of implementing a paperless office), my advice is this:

(1) Use Dropbox to upload directly from the smartphone's camera to your Dropbox account in the cloud. I use an Android phone with the Dropbox app and all you have to do is turn on the Camera Upload feature and Dropbox will then automatically upload pictures taken. Alternatively, you can turn off the Camera Upload feature, take your photos first, and then upload them manually via the Dropbox app. I don't have an iPhone (or any iOS device), but I'm guessing that the Dropbox app works similarly on it.

(2) Set up Dropbox on your computer to sync with Dropbox in the cloud. When you get home from shopping, pictures of your receipts will have been synced to your computer.

(3) Use whatever software you'd like to OCR the pictures and create a searchable PDF file, which is a PDF file that has an image as well as a layer of text created by the OCR process. My personal favorite for doing this is Nuance's PaperPort:

It's not free, but the street price of the standard edition (not the Professional edition) is very reasonable (around $20-30 these days at various online retailers, including Amazon, Buy.com, CircuitCity, and TigerDirect), and the standard edition is fine for your purposes. It also includes a Dropbox-like capability called PaperPort Anywhere. If you go with PaperPort, you may want to consider using PaperPort Anywhere instead of Dropbox, but either will do (PaperPort Anywhere has a very nice [Scan from camera] button).

If you're looking for FREE, there are numerous packages that can do the job. One is the excellent freeware package IrfanView:

Click the Download link on the left to download IrfanView and click the PlugIns link on the left to download the PlugIns, which are needed to give you PDF capability. Install IrfanView first, then install the PlugIns. For the OCR capability, there's a separate plug-in (also free):

(4) After creating a searchable PDF file from the picture of a receipt, store it wherever you want. I encourage you to create a file structure that makes sense to you, such as by year, store name, type of purchase, whatever. You should also give some thought to file-naming conventions. For example, I begin each file with YYYYMMDD (the receipt's date).

(5) Once you have searchable PDF files (i.e., PDF files with text in them from the OCR process), you can index them, and then search them quickly based on all content in the receipts. There are many search tools out there. My favorite is dtSearch, but at $199 is expensive:

Another good search product, more reasonably priced, is X1:

And if you want FREE, Windows Search 4 (WS4) is built into W7 and is available as a free download for XP:

I think that's it! Regards, Joe
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Accepted Solution

Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 375 total points (awarded by participants)
ID: 41803062
There's more than enough information to confirm an answer. Since the asker clarified that this particular question is just about taking a photo of a receipt when shopping and storing/processing/OCRing it (not the much bigger question of implementing a paperless office), these answers are solutions:


Also, subsequent to this question of more than four years ago, I published the following articles and videos here at EE on the subject of OCRing and creating searchable files:

Convert Scanned Image-Only PDF Files to PDF Searchable Image Files via OCR with Power PDF Advanced
How to OCR pages in a PDF with free software
Batch Conversion of PDF, TIFF, and Other Image Formats via Command Line Interface to PDF, PDF Searchable, and TIFF
PaperPort - How To Create Searchable PDF Files

Regards, Joe
LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 41810307
The selected posts provide answers to the clarified question, i.e., handling receipts (not the much bigger question of a paperless office).

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