If you’re looking for a way to store all your documents in digital form, you’ve arrived in the right place, as today’s article is aimed at helping you find the best scanning software in the universe. Okay, maybe we’re exaggerating a little bit for dramatic effect, but since we’re all children of the digital revolution, and the classic photocopying machine also known as the “Xerox Machine” is pretty much dead, we all need the best scanning software for our multifunctional printers (or whatever gadget), whether they’re at home or at the office.
We know what you’re thinking: but wait a minute, my printer/scanner comes with its own software bundle, why would I need scanning software? The problem with “stock software” is that it’s not the best in the world, i.e. there are better alternatives for optical character recognition (OCR), or for image processing and batch scanning.
Since everyone is looking nowadays to reduce the amount of paperwork in their organization in order to increase productivity and all that, custom scanning software has become king, the developers are doing greater than ever and the good news is that there are many tools to choose from. Whether you’re looking for the best screen capture software, to benefit your company, or enterprise-grade photo editing software, the “free market” is here to deliver.
Best Scanning Software
The Best Document Scanning Software
If you’re already familiarized with the niche, you probably already know about Abbyy FineReader, which incidentally has one of the best OCR (optical character reading) software in the industry. The latest version that comes with all the bells and whistles is ABBYY FineReader 14. The “final OCR boss” comes with a plethora of extra features compared to the previous generation, and we’re talking about document comparison and PDF editing which are arguably better than what Adobe Acrobat DC has to offer.
And that’s quite something, considering that Adobe basically created the PDF standard. Pound for pound, Abbyy FineReader punches way above its “weight”, making for an outstanding document-comparison software, probably the best out there in this regard, which allows you to compare docs in 2 different formats (unlike others), i.e. you can compare a PDF to a Word version of the same document, and see which of the 2 is the newest and so on and so forth.
Since nowadays smartphones are pretty much as good as old school scanners, all you have to do is to take a high-res photo which can then be turned into editable PDFs/docs by Abbyy FineReader’s OCR software. The latest version is impressive in regard to its capability to clean-up sub-par images.
Also, you’ll get all the features in the world and then some: viewing/editing/performing advanced tasks in PDF files, converting standard docs to Word, PDF, PowerPoint, Excel, DjVu, ePub etc., the ability to convert/combine multiple files into a single one (Word, Excel or PDF), the capability to scan to FineReader’s OCR Editor or, if so inclined, directly to Excel, PDF or Word, Excel, and finally our favorite: the separate compare-documents app. Unfortunately, you can’t review the history-changes on a given doc, as Abbyy FineReader lacks a version-control feature.
- arguably the best OCR software today
- easy to use software/mobile app
- has all the features in the world
- combines doc conversion technology with high-end text recognition
- excellent for enterprise/professional environments
- features batch processing, image preprocessing, indexing, metadata extraction
- will save you countless hours of data-entry work
- intuitive interface
- top notch performance
- supports multiple languages (192)
- really expensive for home users (free trial available)
- the licensing thing is overly complicated
- some of the best features are only available in the Corporate version
- lacks versioning function
Adobe Acrobat DC
Industry’s Golden Standard
Adobe can be best described as a software behemoth and their Adobe Acrobat DC makes for a powerful tool if you’re looking for top-notch scanning software. The DC particle stands for Document Cloud by the way, and this Adobe product is great if you’re looking for a no-nonsense PDF solution which allows you to compare docs side by side, or to edit data from scanned paper printouts and post comments via an intuitive and ergonomically designed interface.
The software bundle is very easy to install and to use, and comes with a ton of advanced features. On top of that, Adobe is one of the biggest names in the industry, i.e. if you’re looking for a “seasoned” and trustworthy brand, this is the droid you were looking for. The Document Cloud feature integrates all of your docs with Adobe’s cloud storing solution, so you can access your data anytime, anywhere. Also, Acrobat DC integrates seamlessly in the company’s software ecosystem, hence if you’re already an Adobe customer, as in you’re already using Photoshop, you should seriously consider getting Acrobat DC as your OCR partner. Moreover, this software allows PDF creation from virtually anywhere: MS Office, smartphone camera, HTML pages, emails, docs/spreadsheets that can be first merged then organized into a PDF file.
- feature-packed to the brim
- most widely used format in the industry
- plenty of integrations, including Dropbox, OneDrive and Box
- allows passwords/permissions for improved security
- quick searching via text indexing
- mobile app has full editing capability
- standard templates for doc consistency
- allows editing/annotating both text and data in tables
- features comparing tool to spot differences between different doc-versions
- allows reverse conversions (from PDF to Excel, Word, PowerPont)
- doesn’t come cheap
- doesn’t have OCR proofreading tools
The Best Scanning Software for Windows 10
Readiris 17 is our next pick for the best scanning software out there, as it makes for a comprehensive “jack of all trades”, or an all in one solution, which is fairly easy to learn and to operate. The software’s interface is well designed and intuitive, which makes Readiris fairly easy to use; on top of that, you’ll get all the useful features and functions required to do whatever, ranging from digitizing your old paperwork, or running a small business more efficiently than ever.
Readiris 17 allows you to capture and convert all your docs in editable PDF format rapidly and hassle free. Obviously, you can add comments/annotations or hyperlinks via a specially designed group of tools, or to sign and then protect your PDF documents before sending them electronically to your partners or whomever. Moreover, you can convert PDFs, texts and images in a scanned doc or image, then edit the respective document in the format you prefer, whether it’s PowerPoint, Excel, Word or indexed PDF.
On top of that, there’s an option to convert a doc to audio format, MP3 or WAV respectively, thus allowing you to listen instead of reading. You can also record voice comments, which is as cool as it gets in regard to editing.
- very fast doc management
- good OCR implementation
- verbal recognition
- well designed, intuitive interface
- supports 138 languages
- great value for money
- no free version
The Best Free Scanning Software
If you’re having troubles finding software for your scanner, we’re here to help. Actually, we are talking about VueScan, which is arguably one of the best free scanning software out there. VueScan was created to help people keep using their old scanners, i.e. to save money, save the planet and all that.
In order to achieve this noble goal, more than 5600 older scanners were reverse engineered, and the end result is a free (you can also purchase it for more features) app for scanning documents, photos, slides and film on all major operating systems, including Windows, Linux and Mac OS.
VueScan supports over 5600 models from 42 manufacturers, and it can help you even when your particular scanner doesn’t have a proprietary driver.
- extensive customization options
- free trial version available
- scans JPEG, PDF or TIFF/RAW formats
- allows you to keep your old gear running
- constant updates
- features OCR and scan to PDF functions
- Photoshop integration
- IT8 calibration
- works with virtually all film/slide scanners
- none really
The Best Photo Scanning Software
If you’re looking for an alternative to Adobe, OmniPage Standard may be the answer, as it boasts great page reconstruction and state-of-the-art OCR. Making for world’s best-selling scanning software, the Standard version allows you to scan and/or convert various types of documents, including paper, images or PDF files into searchable/editable files hassle-free. Besides great OCR, OmniPage Standard also delivers in regards to extracting pure text.
Speaking of features, OmniPage Standard ($149,99 MSRP on the official website) comes with a tool which currently lacks in Acrobat XI, the side-by-side comparison editing thing respectively, and it also boasts a better interface (as in more flexible) compared to Abbyy FineReader. OmniPage also shines when it comes to automating multiple jobs, as it offers a batch manager of sorts, which makes one’s life much easier. Finally, this impressive scanning software can convert PDFs, scanned images and photos into searchable Word, PDFs, Excel, Word Perfect, HTML, Outlook, SharePoint, to name just a few formats, and allows you to export the scanned docs to your Kindle device.
- excellent OCR
- very good at recreating complex docs
- has all the important PDF features
- perfect for smaller companies
- intuitive layout and design
- easy to install and to use
- stellar performance with images, tables and mobile computing
- features 3D correction technology for minimal errors
- can read vertical text
- automatically detects language
- manages basically any scanning-device that’s TWAIN-, WIA- or ISIS-compliant
- a tad expensive
Jack of all Trades
There’s an old saying about the best things in life and freebies, and in this regard, PaperScan makes for an easy to use (and free) tool which allows you to clean up your scanned docs, i.e. this baby makes for a free scanning application, which is excellent for people on limited budgets. PaperScan free edition supports TWAIN and WIA devices, hence it should do a great job with digital cameras, classic scanners, video capture cards and so on and so forth.
On top of that, PaperScan allows you to import files/images from your computer, including regular graphic files or PDFs. Regardless of its source, the image is then quickly optimized, i.e. punch holes and borders can be removed with ease. There’s also an autodeskew option, which automatically finds/corrects pages that aren’t straight, along with many other tools to smooth an image, adjust colors, remove noise, tweak contrast, resize etc.
The finished document can then be saved in JPEG, TIFF, JBIG2, PNG or PDF format. If you want more features, there’s always the Professional version, which costs $149.99, so be happy with what you got, alright?
- absolutely free
- works with a variety of devices
- great universal scanning tool
- offers PDF encryption
- works great
- support for 30+ languages
- Pro version comes with OCR, annotations, and PDF compressions
- basic scanner functionality in the Free version
- displays ads
Just Another PDF Scanner?
NAPS2 stands for “not another PDF scanner 2”, and here’s the funny part: that’s exactly what NAPS2 really is, just another PDF scanner. Joke aside, what makes NAPS2 to stand out from the crowd is the philosophy behind its creation: its beauty is its simplicity, like a Swiss watch. The point being, using NAPS2, you’ll be able to scan with a single click, including PDFs and other doc-types as simply as humanly possible.
Speaking of boomer-tech-level, it doesn’t get any easier that NAPS2, hence if you find the modern world excessively complicated and annoying, this scanning software will make you shed a tear, as its bare-bone interface will allow you to set up multiple and distinct scanning profiles each of them having their own name, doc-size, resolution, scan source etc. and it doesn’t even require you to have a major in IT to do it nice and proper.
- intuitive and minimalist UI design
- super clean interface
- incredibly easy to use
- supports WIA and TWAIN
- saves scanned docs to PDF, TIFF, JPEG, PNG and more
- features OCR with over 100 languages supported
- free and open source
- offers special tools for businesses and power users
- allows PDF creation from multiple scans
- no bloatware, no ads
- just works, as in you hit scan->it scans
- none really
The Best Free Photo Scanning Software
ScanSpeeder can be best described as free scanning software for the masses, and that’s one of the reasons it made it on our “best of” list. Now, if you’re going to have to scan/edit/archive a ton of photos, ScanSpeeder has your name on it, as it has the capability to scan/crop/straighten multiple photos/docs at once if you’re using a regular flatbed scanner. And that’s a big advantage if you’re working with tons of data, right?
On top of that, ScanSpeeder dramatically simplifies the entire scanning process, which is a great thing for not so tech-savvy people using old-school scanning equipment. The software allows you to scan multiple photos at once, then it automatically segregates them into separate files, and also straightens the docs/photos, an excellent feature in terms of time-saved, as you won’t have to worry about how you put the docs/photos on the flatbed.
- free trial version
- very easy to use
- minimalist interface
- you can send photos/docs directly to Facebook
- allows you to add text to photos
- restores faded photos with 1 click
- even the paid version is very affordable
- great customer service
- none really at this price
One Cool Mobile Scanner
If portability and mobility is the name of the game for you, CamScanner offers a pretty good scanning software app, which comes with tons of cool features, including a lightning-fast OCR (converts image to text), document sharing options and document sync capabilities. The paid version starts at $4.99/month, which is kind of affordable. But what do you get for that kind of money?
Well, first and foremost, a mobile scanner via your smartphone’s camera, i.e. you’ll say goodbye to boomer era technology for ever. CamScanner allows you to capture photos/docs by phone, then to remove the busy background, and finally to generate a high-res PDF or JPEG file; anytime, anywhere, obviously. The OCR thing supports 16 languages, including English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
- separate web app helps with managing scanned docs
- lots of image capture features
- very fast and easy to use (Grab and Go)
- separates the doc acquisition process from the management process
- wireless printing supported
- auto edge cropping
- free version included
- cloud storage support in the paid version
- super practical tool when on the go
- OCR accuracy could be better