FineReader Pro 5 for Mac

Until recently, FineReader Pro 5 was PC-only OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software – and there are Mac users who’ll wish it still was. Abbyy has obviously thrown good money and plenty of time at this Mac port, for FineReader does a great job – when you can get it to work. But, it took me a day of fruitless troubleshooting, and then endless emails to Abbyy’s support team, before FineReader would run. I tried it on three Mac-scanner set-ups. The first was a 450MHz Power Mac G4 and an Agfa Arcus II running on a SCSI card. After much frustration, Abbyy told me that FineReader isn’t compatible with SCSI set-ups or most deleted scanners. My second set-up was a 400MHz Power Mac G3 and an Agfa SnapScan e25. Again, FineReader refused to see the scanner. After more wasted hours, I was told that Abbyy’s software doesn’t work with the ScanWise driver that ships with Agfa scanners, and that I needed to download an updated version – which is on Macworld’s cover CD. What is infuriating about all this is that Abbyy knew all this prior to launch, but has neglected to mention any of it either online, in the Read Me file, or in the manual. At the third time of asking, I got FineReader up and running, on the same G3, but with a Microtek ScanMaker 3800. FineReader, when it works, is very accurate. To put it through its paces, I tried it on a Macworld page outputted from a black-&-white laser printer that was running low on ink. Impressively, only 39 words out of the 837 required changing. Features include one-button operation, recognition of 117 languages, and it can save in HTML and PDF format.

OUR VERDICT

FineReader Pro 5 for Mac is easy to use and can be incredibly useful. However, if you use Mac OS X, or plan to switch soon, then this isn’t the product for you. Go for OmniPage X instead (see above). If you own a SCSI scanner, forget it.

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