I’ve seen all kinds of OCR recognition tools in the past, and most of them are only good at handling certain kinds of files. Some of them are able to handle images, some can do PDFs, and some others specialize in other obscure types of files. And then there is the free and open source Capture2Text that can handle just about anything you can display on your computer screen… for real.
This awesome app doesn’t require any installation, and works exactly as the developer describes. Capture2Text isn’t designed to transform entire libraries of documents or images into copiable text, and instead focuses on capturing only what you see on the screen. Once you have it running you should see the red Capture2Text icon in the System Tray, and that means you are ready to perform OCR tasks. Just press WinKey+Q on your keyboard, and use your mouse to highlight the area of the screen you want copied to the clipboard. Once you highlight the area on the screen you want to perform the OCR on just click the left-mouse button and it will be transferred to the clipboard.
As you can see in the screenshot above I highlighted a tagline that is part of a logo, and Capture2Text shows an instant preview of what will be copied to the clipboard in the upper-left corner of your monitor. Every time you move your mouse the preview is immediately updated to reflect what you currently have highlighted. The whole process is extremely fluid, and feels no different than working an app you might use to take screenshots.
Oh, and that’s only half of what Capture2Text does. Using Google’s voice recognition system it can also convert audio to text that is copied to the clipboard.
Capture2Text Homepage (Windows only; Freeware)