I am looking for OCR software to digitalize scans. Some are prints, some are hand-written (like this). I want to have an easier time finding documents. So I want to generate one text file for each image (of a few hundred images).

Online services are OK, but I prefer offline software. Python libraries are also OK.


What I've tried

  • http://www.onlineocr.net/: Does not work at all with handwriting, Does not recognize tables (tested with this file)
  • http://www.free-ocr.com/: Same problem as http://onlineocr.net
  • ocrfeeder: Crappy results (tested with the same image as before). As it uses tesseract internally, I don't think I have to try tesseract.
  • GOCR: Same as ocrfeeder
  • Tesseract: tesseract morc-data/morc-3-1.jpg out.txt -l deu - same as ocrfeeder
  • I've not found anything perfect yet either. But in the repositories, you also find Cuneiform and Tesseract which you could give a try. I had slightly better results with Cuneiform, but that might well depend on the source used. The hand-written stuff you'll probably have to "OCR by hand and eyes", unfortunately. // Oh: I confirm your results on GOCR and ocrfeeder. Wasn't satisfied by them at all. And a hint for better results: Make the images bigger. Really helps, even if only "upscaled".
    – Izzy
    Feb 10, 2017 at 21:10
  • Recognizing hand-written mathematical notation is a very difficult problem, and I doubt any software currently exists to do it accurately. Feb 10, 2017 at 21:32
  • @Kodiologist: I guess so, too. But also the second image doesn't work at all (tables). Feb 10, 2017 at 23:03
  • @MartinThoma Tesseract is probably the best free (libre) OCR software, and I think it can cope with tables. I don't know if it supports German. Feb 11, 2017 at 1:16
  • 1
    Your hand written sample is made worse by being largely mathematical notation - that is harder still. Feb 11, 2017 at 10:16

2 Answers 2


The best free online OCR service is https://ocr.space - they have a free tier of 25,000 conversions per month and a very good recognition rate.

That said, like all the other free services, it does not detect and preserve tables. The only service that I know that does this well is Abbyy, a commercial solution.

Handwriting: I am not aware of any service that works well with handwriting.


OCR.Space, which was recommended in another answer, I found to work better than Google Docs for most documents, however neither OCR.Space nor Google Docs can properly scan tables. They can scan the text, but the original table formatting is lost.

Proper scanning of tables requires an application that can output an OCR scan as formatted text. Free Online OCR allows the user to download a properly formatted OCR scan in either .doc or .rtf formats, as well as .txt and .pdf.


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