Having concentrated on the PC platform for a year or so, it’s good to see ScanSoft release the long-awaited upgrade to its flagship OCR product for the Mac. OmniPage Pro X brings with it some very welcome enhancements.
Unlike the free bundled OCR package that came with your scanner, OmniPage Pro supports full colour, captures images alongside text, and preserves the page layout of the original documents if you want. It’s also faster than most comparable pro-class OCR packages, and ScanSoft is claiming a further 40 per cent improvement in speed for OmniPage Pro X. The program can recognize spreadsheets and tables, export them to Word or Excel. It supports multiple Western European languages, and uses the Mac OS’s speech software to read back recognized text.
Impressively, even when the program is running natively under Mac OS X, it still lets you operate your scanner neatly, even if its drivers are unCarbonized – as indeed most scanners still are. You just tick an option in the program’s Preferences dialog window
to indicate that your scanner’s driver runs
in Classic mode, and from then on the whole process is seamless, apart from launching Classic when necessary.
The list of supported import and export file formats has been expanded. You can now convert scanned documents to HTML pages, complete with styled text and online images. It’s also possible to save to Acrobat PDF in a number of ways, including an interesting format in which the text is hidden in a layer behind a full-page image scan of the original document. This ensures a perfectly faithful visual reproduction of the document, while also making the text content searchable and copyable.
Perhaps more interesting still is the ability to import existing PDF documents, including those created with Acrobat 5.0. This means you can effectively convert any PDF into a Word document for
re-editing. You can even run the OCR process on PDFs that have printing and editing disabled, which is worrying, since it circumvents some basic security assumptions made by publishers.
Despite all this OCR power, the program still makes plenty of gaffs when trying to auto-recognize paragraph zones in complex page layouts. Luckily, the manual zoning-tools are easy to use, but we wish the Proofreader spent less time querying correctly identified words and more time flagging blatant errors, which are sometimes missed altogether.
Yet for all this, OmniPage Pro X is still the best OCR package you can buy for the Mac, and well worth the £99 price tag.