Abbyy Finereader and Adobe Acrobat – Why Does Fujitsu Include Both?

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I have received a number of questions recently about the software that is included with the Fujitsu ScanSnap. For example, why does the ScanSnap come with both Abbyy FineReader and Adobe Acrobat? Aren’t they both for doing OCR?

I suspect part of the reason that this question comes up is because of my posts about my ScanSnap workflow and my Adobe Acrobat OCR Applescript. Is all that necessary?

Let me start by saying that I personally have the ScanSnap S300M. The S300M comes neither with Abbyy FineReader not with Adobe Acrobat. If you have the S1500 or S1500M, your scanner will come with both and doing OCR is much more integrated than with the S300M, so my post-scan processing fun may not be necessary.

So What’s The Difference?

The ScanSnap comes with a special version of Abbyy FineReader called FineReader for ScanSnap. They’ve integrated that with ScanSnap Organizer, so if you are using the built-in automatic OCR’ing, that is what it is using.

If all you care about is having your PDFs searchable and don’t mind performing the OCR right after scanning, then the supplied FineReader is probably all you need.

To my mind, there are basically two main reasons why you will want to use Adobe Acrobat:

  • You want to do PDF editing after the fact
  • You want to batch your OCR after the fact

PDF Editing

So you have your scanned PDF. Now what? If you want to remove/rearrange pages and do a whole ton of other editing functions, Acrobat is a great tool. It is most definitely not just for making a PDF searchable.

You can see a bunch more information for Adobe Acrobat 9 (included with the ScanSnap 1500) and Acrobat 8 (included with the ScanSnap 1500M). You can see from the price that it’s a pretty good deal that this software is included with the ScanSnap.

Batch OCR

If you have a whole bunch of documents to scan in, it may be annoying to scan, sit there and wait for it to OCR, scan, OCR, scan, OCR, and so on. Some people prefer to scan all their documents to PDF in one shot, and then OCR them all at once. You can use Acrobat to do that instead of the included FineReader.

So there you have it, some of the differences between the two. What are some of the reasons you use one over the other?

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12 Responses to “Abbyy Finereader and Adobe Acrobat – Why Does Fujitsu Include Both?”

  1. Julian C April 20, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    Similarly to your process flow, I scan to a folder called "Scans to sort".
    From there I rename all of the scanned files from the default "YYYY_MM_DD_TTTT.pdf" to something a bit more useful to me eg "2009_04_20_Payslip.pdf"
    I then fire up ScanSnap Organizer application inside which I have a short cut to my "Scans to Sort" folder
    I right click on the short cut icon and select "Convert to searchable pdf"
    This then runs OCR on all the files in that folder.

    I used to open each file manually in adobe acrobat and run the ocr from there, but found this method to be less effort!

    • BrooksD April 24, 2009 at 2:55 pm #

      Hey Julian, thanks so much for the awesome tip! I always like seeing how other people do things. Which ScanSnap do you have?

      I totally agree that OCR'ing one by one in Acrobat is a painful experience that I don't recommend at all. Yuck.

    • pendolino July 28, 2009 at 8:58 am #

      julian – you're on windows right?

  2. rob mayoff May 17, 2009 at 6:57 pm #

    You can use FineReader to batch OCR (on a Mac at least). If FineReader is idle, you can drag a pile of scanned PDFs to it and it will OCR them as a batch. However, if it's busy when you drag your files to it, it will give you an error instead of adding them to its work queue.

    Also, you can (again, on a Mac) use Apple's Preview.app to delete and rearrange pages in a PDF. I find it more pleasant to use than Acrobat for such tasks.

    • BrooksD May 18, 2009 at 5:23 am #

      Hi rob,

      Thanks for the note about FineReader. Awesome stuff.

      I agree about using Preview.app. The Leopard one is great. That's what I've started using too when I need to delete or rearrange some pages.

    • tjcarter May 20, 2009 at 4:44 am #

      This still requires that the files be ScanSnap-created, does it not?

      (I'm very excited, My S1500M arrives Thursday, which also happens to be my brithday!)

      • BrooksD May 20, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

        Hi TJ, I don't think it would require that the PDFs be specifically ScanSnap-created. FineReader would, I assume, be happy with any old PDF.

        However, and maybe this is what you are getting at, I'd imagine that the PDFs can't be already-OCRed.

  3. Tullio June 3, 2009 at 11:23 pm #

    You mean a PDF which has been OCRed won't be OCRed a second time?

    All my setting with the 1500M are with "Convert To Searchable PDF", does it means they are all OCRed with ABBYY FineReader and won't be with Acrobat?

    Is there some situation I should avoid that? Thanks!

  4. Tullio June 3, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

    Anyway the OCR seems better with ABBYY than with Acrobat. I may just keep Acrobat for editing.

  5. pendolino July 28, 2009 at 8:58 am #

    i dont recall getting ABBYY finereader with my scansnap s500m. am i missing something? i only got acrobat 7.

    btw – mine is the mac version. it would be useful if people highlight what versions of the hardware and software they are using to avoid confusion.

  6. Bern Shanfield September 22, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    I played with comparing these two different pathways to getting a document OCRed and found there are huge differences.

    ABBYY produces a doc that is 10-20 times larger but far more accurate. Acrobat seems to be rebuilding a doc from scratch into its own format which is way more compact and editable. So depending on the importance of size and edibility there's choices to be made.

    I only compared one document (a 10 page bank statement) with lots of lines and a barcode that ABBYY did well with while Acrobat failed at. I also noticed that the DPI setting greatly impacted the accuracy.

    • BrooksD September 22, 2009 at 11:24 pm #

      Thanks so much for posting your comparison Bern.. very interesting.

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