Convert scanned words into editable text using Google Drive


Image courtesy of Wikimedia

In my class today, I wanted students to work through a transcript of a lecture that they had listened to earlier. We had worked through some of the content and comprehension material, but now I wanted to look at some of the language used throughout the speech. The problem was that the transcript was in very small text and was too long for me to retype. I wanted to have it both projected on the screen as well as printed out with larger spaces between the lines for highlighting and writing notes. To get around this problem, I used a trusty standby for me, Google Drive.

I am surprised how many people don’t know that you can convert scanned text into editable text using the built in text recognition feature of Google Drive. It works really well if the text is typed or written clearly. Here is how it works:

  1. Scan the text you would like to convert or take a really clear closeup photo of it.
  2. Go to Google Drive and log into your Google account.
  3. To make sure the upload settings are correct (this only needs to be done once), click on the gear symbol near the top-right corner of Google Drive, go down to ‘Upload settings’ and make sure there is a checkmark next to ‘Convert text from uploaded PDF and image files’. I also like to have Google ask me each time in case I am not uploading a text image. If you would like to do that, make sure there is a checkmark next to ‘Confirm settings before each upload’.
  4. Click on the up arrow next to the ‘Create’ button.
  5. Click on ‘Files’ and select the image you scanned.
  6. It may ask you something about the sharing preferences. Choose what works best for your situation.
  7. If you have asked Google to prompt you before each upload, check over the settings in the box that appears to make sure it still has the ‘Convert text from PDF and image files to Google documents’ selected and the language you would like it converted to is selected.
  8. Click on ‘Start upload’
  9. Once it is finished, you will see a new document appear in your Google documents. Click on it and it will open. The document will have the original image embedded in it along with the text. You can now copy and paste that text into a new document, presentation, etc.

I would suggest reading over the text carefully to make sure it didn’t make any mistakes, but usually it is really accurate.

I hope that helps!


3 thoughts on “Convert scanned words into editable text using Google Drive

  1. Pingback: No Registration Web Tools | Technology & Education Tidbits
  2. Hi Nathan,
    This sounds very useful. I haven’t followed through this process, so not sure if it has a similar result, but I’ve been using a couple of different image to text app on my iPhone for converting print documents. I just take a photo using the app, then email the result to myself. Some of the apps allow you to send to Twitter, FB, EverNote and more. This post, which lists a couple that I’ve used, is a couple of years old, but still relevant I think: As you said, you do need to check the text for mistakes, but most of the time I’m very surprised at the accuracy of the apps.

  3. Pingback: Convert an image to editable text without registration using OnlineOCR | Nathan Hall

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