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OCR: The most important scanning feature you never knew you needed

Discover how optical character recognition (OCR) software turns paper documents into digital files, simplifies data entry and searches, and much more.

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Content starts here

»  Benefits of OCR
»  How to use OCR
»  Getting the most out of OCR
»  Availability
»  Additional resources

Image of the Officejet Pro L7780


Optical character recognition (OCR) software works with your scanner to convert printed characters into digital text, allowing you to search for or edit your document in a word processing program. Read on to learn more about how to use OCR and the numerous benefits it has over traditional scanning.

Benefits of OCR

Screenshot of IRIS Desktop Search.

Easily search files scanned with OCR using key words and phrases.

Screenshot of resume in Word.

Once you’ve scanned your document using OCR, edit the text within a word processing program of your choice.

Shot of a filing cabinet and a disc.

Save space by keeping important information on a CD instead of in a bulky filing cabinet.

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From speedy searches to saving space, there are numerous benefits to scanning your documents with OCR software:

  • No more retyping
    If you lose or accidentally erase an important digital file, such as a proposal or invoice, but still have a hard copy, you can easily replace it in your digital filing system by using OCR software to scan the paper original or most recent draft.
  • Quick digital searches
    OCR software converts scanned text into a word processing file, giving you the opportunity to search for specific documents using a keyword or phrase. For example, you could effortlessly search hundreds of invoices and locate a specific name or account in moments, without having to thumb through extensive files.
  • Edit text
    Once you’ve scanned your document using OCR, you have the option to edit the text within a word processing program of your choice. Scan items that may need to be updated in the future to help expedite the editing process:
                      –Typed family recipes
                      –Rental agreements
  • Save space
    Free up storage space by scanning paper documents and hauling the originals off to storage. You can easily turn a filing cabinet worth of information into editable digital files, and create a backup system consisting of a single CD.
  • Accessibility
    OCR software is a useful Accessibility or Ease of Access tool. Vision impaired PC users can scan books, magazines, incoming faxes, or other documents into word processing programs to be used in conjunction with a computer voice-over utility.

How to use OCR

Screenshot of InstallShield Wizard welcome box.

Screenshot of Readiris welcome window.

Screenshot of Scan option circled in red.

Select the Scan option to quickly scan your documents into the Readiris application.

Screenshot of text in Readiris

Your document will appear highlighted in the Readiris home window, where you can modify, reorganize, and save your text.

Screenshot of Recognize + Save option circled in red.

When you’re ready, select the Recognize & Save icon to save your documents to a variety of applications.

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Readiris Pro OCR software CD-ROM comes with HP Document Management scanners and select Photo scanners and All-in-Ones. To see if your HP product offers Readiris Pro OCR software, check out the Availability section below.

Additionally, an OCR application may automatically load when installing the driver offered with certain HP printers. If your HP scanner or All-in-One printer doesn’t offer OCR software—either on a CD-ROM or through a printer driver—you can purchase Readiris Pro OCR software online

To install the software, follow these easy steps:

  • Insert the Readiris Pro CD-ROM into your PC.
  • An InstallShield Wizard dialogue box will appear. Click Next.
  • Follow the installation prompts until the Readiris for HP home welcome window appears.

Your OCR software has now been successfully installed, and you can begin scanning your documents!

To scan your documents:

  • Simply load documents onto the scanner flatbed or into the automatic document feeder (ADF).
  • Select Scan in the Readiris home window, under Scanning options.
  • Your document will be scanned and instantly appear in the Readiris application home window.

To send or save your documents:
  • Once your scanned document appears in the Readiris application, select Recognize + Save under Recognition options to send your document to an application such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Adobe Acrobat, or Internet Explorer, where you can work with your scans as though you typed them in by hand!

Readiris Desktop Search
A Readiris Desktop Search program will be automatically installed along with the original Readiris application. Simply enter your search word or phrase into the Readiris desktop search window and the program will retrieve all matching files. You can even refine your search with categories such as file size, folder, and date.

Getting the most out of OCR

Image of “no” sign on top of stylized handwriting an pen.

For quality scans, avoid documents containing extremely stylized text or handwriting.

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To ensure quality results, make sure you only scan the following types of documents:
  • Printed text sizes from 6 points (.08 inch) to 72 points (1 inch)
  • Typed text
  • Laser and inkjet printed text
  • Letter-quality dot matrix print
  • Printed material such as magazines, papers, books, brochures, etc.
  • Faxes with resolution greater than 200 dpi.

Readiris will not recognize extremely stylized, “script”-like fonts, or any handwritten text.


Shot of the HP Scanjet 8300.

The HP Scanjet 8300 Professional Image scanner.

Shot of the HP J4580.

The HP Officejet J4580 All-in-One printer.

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OCR software comes with HP Document Management scanners and select Photo scanners and All-in-Ones.
  • Document Management scanners: Ideal for those who need higher print speeds and an automatic document feeder (ADF) to accommodate a large volume of scans. To find the HP product with OCR software that’s right for your scanning needs, check out the HP Document Management scanner comparison chart.
  • Photo scanners: For those who occasionally need gallery-quality images and seldom require a high volume of scans, there are several HP Photo Scanners that also come with OCR software. Check out the HP Photo scanner comparison chart to the find the photo scanner with OCR that best fits your needs.
  • All-in-One printers: If you would like print, copy, and fax capabilities along with the ability to use OCR when scanning, try the HP Officejet Pro L7780 All-in-One printer or the HP Officejet J4580 All-in-One printer.

Additional resources

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