How to Convert an Image to Text

By G.S. Jackson

When you scan text from a document, the scanner is merely taking a picture of the text and saving it in an image file, such as a TIFF, JPEG or PDF. This means you can't copy, paste or edit it like text in a word processor. When using Windows, however, you can employ Microsoft Office to handle this problem. OneNote, a program packaged with Office, takes images with text and extracts the text, meaning you can save it and edit it like any other text.

Step 1

Click "Start | All Programs | Microsoft Office | Microsoft OneNote."

Step 2

Click the "Insert" tab, the "Picture" button, then the "Insert Picture from Files" button.

Step 3

Select the text from the image, and copy and paste it into a word processor document. The text from the image is machine-readable text you can copy and edit.

Tips & Warnings

  • Document scanning software is tricky to find. Most of it doesn't have a graphical interface (meaning you're stuck typing commands to convert a file like you're in The Matrix or something).
  • Some document scanning software has better word detection, but isn't nearly as easy to use. That's why I recommended Iris. I know you have to pay to use it, but there's a reason for that.
  • It's possible that you're still not taking my word on this. That's fine...but as you browse the net for different types of document scanning software, keep your eyes peeled for the date and software requirements. Most document scanning software (especially the free stuff) vanished mysteriously years ago or requires an outdated plugin.