A person sitting at a desk and scanning a document using OCR technology on their phone


What is OCR, and how can it help you save time?

Learn how you can streamline manual data entry with OCR technology.

What is OCR?

OCR means optical character recognition, a technology that transforms printed documents into digital image files. It’s a digital copy machine that uses automation to turn a scanned document into machine-readable PDF files you can edit and share.

What does optical character recognition software do?

While we live in a digital world, the transformation isn’t fully complete. Whether you’re a small business owner, freelancer, or someone who works from home, physical documents are still prevalent. Scanning physical documents to use in digital workflows can be time-consuming, but the conversion process can be more efficient — and lead to more useful files — with OCR technology.


A stack of paperwork can be a data entry nightmare, but you can make your dream of automation-driven conversion come true with OCR technology like Adobe Acrobat.


Upload scanned documents and they will be instantly formatted and transcribed in the exact formatting of the original file. Custom font generation means you never have to worry about whether the fonts match, even if the original document was handwritten.


If you receive a file format you haven’t edited before, like JPG or TIFF, OCR technology ensures every file can be changed and adjusted. Acrobat with OCR software is perfect for archival purposes too, as cloud storage ensures you always have a copy. Smart features like searchable text and user access controls make it quick and simple to find and complete whatever machine-readable forms you need.


Not only does OCR save you time, but you also save money, effort, and the environment too. Gone are the days of bulky, expensive scanners and unorganized file cabinets. With more living areas doubling as places of business, you can streamline your work areas to get the most out of your available space.

How can you use OCR technology in everyday life?

OCR applications have a wide array of uses that you can incorporate not only to help your workflow but also to improve your everyday life.


For those who are blind or visually impaired, OCR software can help decipher text from scanned documents and automate it to be read aloud according to your specifications.


OCR can also benefit those with learning differences like dyslexia. OCR is used globally in educational settings. If you’re a teacher with developmentally disabled students in your virtual classes, OCR can ensure clear and efficient communication.


Language barriers cease to be barriers with an OCR solution present. Customized settings give you the ability to translate words detected within an image file into another language, such as Portuguese or Tagalog. Expand horizons and collaborate with others — no matter where they are. Get real-time feedback, even internationally.

OCR features within Adobe Acrobat DC on a graphic of a tablet device, mobile phone, and laptop device

Can optical character recognition software in Adobe Scan help you stay organized?

With Adobe Scan, you never have to worry about losing your important contact info. Bring your Rolodex and all your business cards to the virtual world and digitize them in a few simple steps so they’re all in one place.


After you upload your contacts’ cards, searchable text makes it easy to find specific names, phone numbers, and email addresses. Cloud storage provides an encrypted backup for all your documents so you’ll never panic about misplaced documents again. 

How can OCR solutions from Acrobat solve business problems?

Once you use Adobe Scan on your document, Acrobat will analyze the images with optical character recognition. Older files that were scanned previously are also eligible to be converted into machine-readable text.


After you convert files, there are a litany of options on what you can do next. Combine multiple files into one PDF, or convert one file format to another, like a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to PDF. Integration with other software like Microsoft Word allows you to export and share your new PDF document into other workflows without interruption. When you’re finished with your changes, request electronic signatures from others, send them digitally, and manage your progress.

A graphic of a document scanned onto a mobile phone using OCR technology

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