Best Free OCR Software (Free & Paid Tools Comparison)

Updated April 4, 2024


In the current digital era, there is a constant need to transform hard-copy documents, photos, and PDFs into text formats that can be edited and searched. Optical character recognition (OCR) software is the essential technology for carrying out this process accurately and successfully. Several users, particularly individuals and small enterprises, look for affordable alternatives without sacrificing quality, even though there are several paid OCR solutions on the market. We go into the world of free OCR software options in this extensive guide, exposing the leading options that are well-known for their features, capabilities, and adaptability to a range of user needs.

In this article, we are going to some of the best free OCR software that helps to perform the OCR process.

Tesseract OCR

Developed by HP at first and then taken up by Google, Tesseract OCR is a well-known open-source OCR engine. Tesseract OCR, which is currently maintained by a passionate group of developers, is a well-liked option for consumers looking for free OCR solutions because to its exceptional accuracy and adaptability. Tesseract OCR is a robust document recognition tool that can recognize text in more than 100 languages. It works well with a variety of document forms, including scanned documents, pictures, and PDFs. Tesseract does not have a graphical user interface, but its command-line interface allows for easy integration with unique workflows and programs, enabling tech-savvy users and developers to fully utilize its features.

Key Features

  • high level of multilingual text recognition accuracy.
  • Convert images and supported formats like TIFF, JPEG, and PDF among other input types.
  • Regular upgrades and enhancements spearheaded by the open-source community.
  • Interface with a command line enabling adaptable integration with unique applications.
  • Scalable architecture that can accommodate more training sets and language models.
  • Licensed under the Apache License 2.0, it is freely accessible to users anywhere.
  • Interaction with widely used programming languages, such as C++, Java, and Python.


SimpleOCR is a user-friendly OCR software program created to meet the demands of small enterprises and people looking for cost-effective text recognition solutions. SimpleOCR converts scanned documents and photos into editable text formats with dependable performance, despite its simplicity. SimpleOCR serves a wide range of customers who need basic OCR capabilities for daily work and supports English, French, German, and Spanish. The user-friendly design and simple operation of this tool enable flawless document conversion with no effort, even for users with various degrees of technical ability.

Key Features

  • The easy-to-use interface makes navigation and operation simple.
  • Dependable text recognition for photos and scanned documents.
  • Language support for Spanish, German, French, and English.
  • Capabilities for batch processing to convert several documents efficiently.
  • Interface with widely used Word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word.
  • It automatically extracts data that has been identified to an editable file format, such as RTF and TXT.
  • It is the best option for individual users because it is free for both personal and non-commercial use.


FreeOCR is a feature-rich OCR program that is available for free and has advanced text recognition capabilities. With remarkable accuracy, FreeOCR converts scanned documents, pictures, and PDFs into editable formats thanks to the Tesseract OCR engine. With support for more than ten languages, including German, French, Spanish, and English, FreeOCR serves people looking for multilingual OCR solutions all across the world. With features like batch processing and PDF conversion, along with an easy-to-use interface, it boosts efficiency and productivity, making it a great tool for individuals and small organizations with various document management requirements.

Key Features

  • Using the Tesseract OCR engine to recognize text accurately.
  • More than ten languages are supported, including German, French, Spanish, and English.
  • Scanning and converting PDF files, pictures, and paper documents into editable formats.
  • The ability to handle several documents at once via batch processing.
  • Interface with widely used Word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word.
  • Export of recognized text to TXT and DOC files, among other file types.
  • Free for both personal and business usage, offering affordable OCR solutions for enterprises.

Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote is typically used as a note-taking tool, but it also has built-in OCR capabilities that let users extract text from scanned documents and photos. Because of this functionality, it's a useful tool for people who want to perform simple OCR tasks without having to install other software. OneNote's OCR tool offers a quick way to turn photos into searchable text, whether you're recording handwritten notes, receipts, or whiteboard sketches.

Key Features

  • Built-in OCR: Microsoft OneNote comes with built-in OCR, which can extract data and convert scanned documents and photos. To make text searchable and editable, users only need to insert image files onto a OneNote page and select the "Copy Text from Picture" option.
  • Office Suite Integration: OneNote easily interacts with other Microsoft Office programs, giving users access to OCR features throughout the Office Suite. You may quickly import OneNote's OCR-processed text into Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
  • Cross-Platform Accessibility: Microsoft OneNote is compatible with a variety of operating systems and devices, including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Anywhere you go, OneNote's OCR features are available to you whether you're using a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
  • Collaboration tools: OneNote has strong collaboration tools that let users edit, share, and work together on documents in real-time. You may easily work together on OCR-processed documents in the OneNote environment, whether you're working with clients, coworkers, or students.
  • Cloud Integration: OneNote may store OCR-processed documents in the cloud for convenient access and sharing by integrating with Microsoft OneDrive.


When it comes to free OCR software, IronOCR stands out as a top option thanks to its sophisticated features and superb performance. Users looking for reliable OCR solutions without the high cost often choose IronOCR, which was developed by Iron Software and is well-known for its accuracy, speed, and adaptability. With IronOCR, you can easily streamline your document workflows, whether you're converting scanned documents, business documents, images, or PDF documents. IronOCR offers accurate results.

Key Features

  • High Accuracy: IronOCR achieves unmatched text recognition accuracy by utilizing state-of-the-art algorithms and machine learning approaches. Whether working with handwritten text, ordinary fonts, or intricate layouts, IronOCR reliably produces accurate results with few mistakes.
  • Versatility: IronOCR supports a wide range of document types and content formats, from business cards and forms to invoices and receipts. Its multilingual capability increases its adaptability even further by serving people across the globe who need OCR solutions in various languages.
  • Speed and Performance: IronOCR guarantees quick document conversion without sacrificing accuracy thanks to its advanced processing methods. Users may efficiently digitize their document processing using IronOCR's exceptional performance, whether processing single files or batch conversions.
  • Simple Integration: IronOCR provides easy integration with well-known programming languages and platforms, including C#, VB.NET, and F#, as well as .NET Core and .NET Framework. Because of its simple APIs and SDKs, developers can easily utilize its OCR capabilities and integrate them into their current applications.
  • Extensive Support and Documentation: IronOCR is supported by extensive support channels, tutorials, and documentation, guaranteeing users get help and direction when they need it. Regardless of your level of experience, IronOCR offers the tools you need to unlock its full potential.

To know more about the IronOCR OCR solution, check here.

Here is a basic C# example:

var Ocr = new IronTesseract(); // nothing to configure            
Ocr.Language = OcrLanguage.EnglishBest;                                     
Ocr.Configuration.TesseractVersion = TesseractVersion.Tesseract5;            
using (var Input = new OcrInput())      
    var Result = Ocr.Read(Input);       
var Ocr = new IronTesseract(); // nothing to configure            
Ocr.Language = OcrLanguage.EnglishBest;                                     
Ocr.Configuration.TesseractVersion = TesseractVersion.Tesseract5;            
using (var Input = new OcrInput())      
    var Result = Ocr.Read(Input);       
Dim Ocr = New IronTesseract() ' nothing to configure
Ocr.Language = OcrLanguage.EnglishBest
Ocr.Configuration.TesseractVersion = TesseractVersion.Tesseract5
Using Input = New OcrInput()
	Dim Result = Ocr.Read(Input)
End Using
VB   C#

We can implement data extraction from the image with the highest OCR accuracy by using the code mentioned above. Additionally, IronOCR facilitates the conversion of text extracted from handwritten documents into editable file formats, including Word. The scanned images can also be turned into searchable PDF files. With IronOCR, the outcome can be stored in various OCR output formats. To learn more about the code refer here.

Source Image

Best Free OCR Software (Free & Paid Tools Comparison): Figure 1 - Input Image


Best Free OCR Software (Free & Paid Tools Comparison): Figure 2 - Console Output


To sum up, companies, developers, and individuals looking to scan their documents without breaking the bank can benefit greatly from free Optical character recognition (OCR) software programs such as Tesseract OCR, SimpleOCR, IronOCR, and FreeOCR, etc. These free OCR options satisfy a wide range of requirements and tastes, regardless of whether you're looking for sophisticated capabilities, outstanding accuracy, or intuitive simplicity. Through the utilization of text recognition technology, individuals may optimize their document processes, boost efficiency, and realize the complete worth of their digital resources—all without incurring excessive costs. Users may confidently start their document digitization journey with Tesseract OCR, IronOCR, FreeOCR, etc., guiding the way and providing a wealth of sophisticated tools at their disposal.

Last but not least, IronOCR is an amazing OCR program that provides excellent accuracy, versatility, and integration. Because of its unparalleled accuracy, advanced algorithms, and capacity to identify a wide range of document types, including handwritten ones, IronOCR is the greatest OCR solution currently on the market. Because IronOCR integrates smoothly across numerous documents and common computer languages, it ensures developer accessibility while maintaining an intuitive interface.

You can try the affordable development edition of IronOCR for free, and if you buy the IronOCR package, you'll get a lifetime license. With a starting price of $599, the IronOCR bundle is an excellent value as it offers a single price for several devices. IronOCR also offers a free trial. Click this link to learn more about Iron Software products.

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