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
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.
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?
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.