I'm looking for software capable of creating a searchable database from scanned files (probably PDFs but the file type isn't important) so that I can categorize and search all of my handwritten Calculus and Psychology work. I'm not looking for scanning software or something that converts handwriting to text, just something that allows me to create an easily sorted and searchable database. (Having OCR is fine, just not required)

(By searchable I mean simply each one having a number/heading/title i.e. Chapter 1 - Section 2, not full text searching)


  • Runs on Windows (Version doesn't matter)
  • Preferably not Web Based
  • Free (Ad revenue, etc. is fine)
  • 1
    You cannot leave OCR out of your question - how else are you going to convert pixels from the scans to text. Please edit your question to better describe your workflow and requirements. We're missing price and OS too. And read this: meta.softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/336/…
    – user416
    Feb 2, 2015 at 16:21

2 Answers 2


Since you don't want OCR, your notes are effectively photographs, so why not find some good photo management software, which lets you tag an categorize?

People speak highly of Picassa, and there are good alternatives here.

For years I have been using FastStone Image Viewer, which might offer too many features for you, but which definitely has good tagging.

  • Really good idea to use photo management, I hadn't considered using image tagging to organize them! Thanks for the all the alternative choices too. Feb 3, 2015 at 16:18
  • I wanted to give it enough time before selecting, just in case there were any other idea, plus my reputation isn't high enough to vote yet on this exchange. Feb 7, 2015 at 0:20

If you would like to OCR the handwritten notes, so as be able to perform full text searches, etc., then there is a very good tutorial here on using a software stack for deep learning to train and recognise handwritten text.

The tutorial uses Python + Keras.

Both are:

  • Free, Gratis & Open Source
  • Cross Platform including Windows
  • Run locally, (or you could use AWS, etc., instances for the heavy lifting).
  • Advert free

Python has numerous database connectors that you could use to export the results or you could embed the results into the images in a number of ways such as EXIF comments/tags.

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