What is OCR?

27th July 2022

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One of the many advantages of using Filestream software for your document management is the addition of OCR, or Optical Character Recognition. That’s why you’ll see us mention it throughout our product pages. But what is it, why do we love, and why do we think you’ll love it too?

At a basic level, OCR is a clever bit of software that can ‘scan’ documents of all kinds and read all the text within them. Once that text becomes readable, your ability to find the documents you need improves greatly – along with the time and frustration you’ll save!

When an EDMS pairs up with OCR, the days of trying to remember file names from documents you created back in the mists of time are over. Also gone are the hours spent searching for documents only to find out there was a typo in the file name, or it had been wrongly filed in a different folder that you’d never have thought to look in.

All you have to do is look for phrases that will be within the document – and we’ll give you a few points of inspiration shortly on what that may mean – and your EDMS will scan all file content to find what you’re looking for.

So how does OCR help me search my files?

Most document management systems will typically ask for standard search criteria like file name, date, client name and so on. Often those are fine, but companies who produce a lot of files can quickly find themselves spending more time searching for old files than working on new tasks. This is especially true with organisations in industries like accounting, healthcare or legal who will processing thousands of documents for invoices, patient records or case files each day – often with file names that are very similar and prone to errors that make finding them later very difficult.

By using OCR, you could:

  • Find files of a certain type – for example “Mr Smith case files” – that were saved within a certain time period
  • Search by client name/topic of the file, ideal if you know the high-level details of a file, but not specific file name or dates
  • Find documents that were saved to several clients but had the same content
  • Track down and tidy up duplicate files that may have been independently saved by multiple users, or that may be older versions of the same document
  • Find documents based on the email address of whoever supplied them

…and more. The ability to search by literally any phrase or word that would be found within a file means you can get as specific as you like when tracking down those files. And the fact OCR software is able to read non-text-based documents like PDFs means you can find information in scanned-in paperwork – perfect if you’ve made the move from physical to digital paperwork and need a seamless way to track down older documents.

Need more information? Speak to one of our experts.